Who are the MSPs standing down at the Holyrood election?

PA Scotland
·4-min read

More than a quarter of Holyrood’s MSPs are not seeking re-election to the Scottish Parliament this year.

A total of 34 of the 129 members in the last Parliament are not standing for re-election on May 6, and they include three former party leaders and four current Government ministers.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the most notable names who have chosen to leave Parliament.

SNP

Jeane Freeman

The current Health Secretary has only been an MSP since 2016 but has become one of the most high-profile Government ministers in the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley would be 72 by the end of the next parliamentary term and as she announced her retirement, she said: “While I have a great deal of energy left and more I want to do, I think it is the right time for me to stand aside.”

NHS 70th anniversary
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is leaving Holyrood (Andy Buchanan/PA)

Mike Russell

One of Holyrood’s original MSPs first elected after the Scottish Parliament’s creation in 1999, Mr Russell has served in various ministerial roles, including education, culture and the environment.

Most recently, he has been responsible for the Scottish Government’s response – and often opposition – to the UK Government’s Brexit plans.

Roseanna Cunningham

Another departing Government minister, the Environment Secretary was previously a minister for fair work and community safety.

The Perth and Kinross MSP was the SNP deputy leader between 2000 and 2004, and ran against Alex Salmond when he was elected party leader that year.

Linda Fabiani

First elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, Ms Fabiani initially represented the Central Scotland region until 2011 when she was elected as the MSP for East Kilbride.

Since 2016, she has been one of two deputy presiding officers, and also the convener of the Holyrood committee that examined the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment allegations against former first minister Mr Salmond.

Scottish Conservatives

Ruth Davidson

The former leader of the Scottish Conservatives is one of seven Tories standing down.

She announced she was stepping down both as party leader and as an MSP in 2019 after returning from maternity leave following the birth of her son.

Last year, Ms Davidson was offered a seat in the House of Lords and will take up the role after the election.

Brexit
Former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson (Jane Barlow/PA)

Labour

Ken Macintosh

First elected as a Labour MSP in 1999, Mr Macintosh served various frontbench posts before becoming the Parliament’s fifth Presiding Officer.

Queen in Scotland
The Queen alongside Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Iain Gray

The former Scottish Labour leader is another retiring MSP who was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

A former teacher, Mr Gray was leader from 2008 to 2011 and has most recently been the party’s education spokesman.

Johann Lamont

Ms Lamont also became an MSP in 1999 and served as a junior minister in government from 2004 to 2007, and then succeeded Mr Gray as Scottish Labour leader – a post she resigned from shortly after the 2014 independence referendum.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Mike Rumbles

The former army major was elected to the first Scottish Parliament, initially representing West Aberdeenshire until 2011, and returned to Holyrood as a regional MSP for North East Scotland in 2016.

Independents

Derek Mackay resigns from SNP
Scotland’s former finance secretary Derek Mackay stepped down and resigned from the SNP over messages he sent to a teenage boy (Jane Barlow/PA)

Derek Mackay

Mr Mackay was elected to Holyrood as an SNP MSP in 2011 and became Finance Secretary in 2016. However, he resigned from Government on the eve of his budget speech in February 2020 after the Scottish Sun revealed he had sent hundreds of text messages to a teenage boy.

Mark McDonald

The former childcare minister and Aberdeen Donside MSP quit the SNP in 2018 and was briefly suspended by Parliament after being accused of inappropriate behaviour by three women.

The full list of retiring MSPs:

  • Jeane Freeman

  • Mike Russell

  • Roseanna Cunningham

  • Aileen Campbell

  • Stewart Stevenson

  • Alex Neil

  • Angus MacDonald

  • Bruce Crawford

  • Gail Ross

  • Gil Paterson

  • Sandra White

  • Linda Fabiani

  • Richard Lyle

  • Maureen Watt

  • Ruth Davidson

  • Adam Tomkins

  • Margaret Mitchell

  • Peter Chapman

  • Tom Mason

  • Bill Bowman

  • Alison Harris

  • Ken Macintosh

  • Iain Gray

  • Johann Lamont

  • Neil Findlay

  • Mary Fee

  • Jenny Marra

  • Elaine Smith

  • David Stewart

  • Lewis Macdonald

  • John Finnie

  • Mike Rumbles

  • Derek Mackay

  • Mark McDonald