Alison Johnstone


Alison Johnstone (born 11 October 1965) is a Scottish politician serving as the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament since 2021. Elected as a member of the Scottish Greens, she relinquished her party affiliation on becoming Presiding Officer.[2]

Alison Johnstone

Johnstone in 2011
Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
Assumed office
13 May 2021
MonarchElizabeth II
DeputyAnnabelle Ewing
Liam McArthur
Preceded byKen Macintosh
Co-Leader of the Greens in the Scottish Parliament
In office
3 March 2019  5 May 2021
Serving with Patrick Harvie
Preceded byMaggie Chapman
Succeeded byLorna Slater
Scottish Greens Spokesperson for Health, Sport, Social Security, Children and Young People
In office
May 2011  May 2021
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byTBD
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Lothian
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
Assumed office
5 May 2011
Personal details
Born (1965-10-11) 11 October 1965 (age 55)[1]
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political partyIndependent (since 2021)[n 1]
Other political
affiliations
Scottish Greens (until May 2021)[2]
Children1
WebsiteOfficial website

Johnstone has served as a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Lothian region since 2011.[3] She was a councillor for the Meadows/Morningside ward for the City of Edinburgh Council from 2007 until May 2012.

Early life


Johnstone was born and raised in Edinburgh, where she attended St. Augustine's High School.[4] She is a qualified athletics coach and board member of Scottish Athletics, and formerly held the East of Scotland 800m and 1500m records.[2]

She worked at Basil Paterson College as a registrar for a decade.[5]

She was part of an unsuccessful campaign to stop the building of luxury flats on Meggetland Playing Fields.[5]

Political career


From 1999, Johnstone worked as an assistant to Robin Harper, a position she held until Harper stood down in March 2011. She was also joint convenor of the Scottish Greens from 2007 to 2008.[6]

Johnstone was elected as an additional member of the Scottish Parliament in the Lothian region in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election.

She unsuccessfully contested Edinburgh Central in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election but finished fourth behind the Scottish Conservatives' Ruth Davidson, the Scottish National Party's Alison Dickie and Scottish Labour's Sarah Boyack.[7] She was again returned on the regional list.[8] On 22 May, she was announced as the Scottish Greens spokesperson on Health and Sport, Social Security, Children and Young People.[9]

She served as Co-Leader of the Scottish Greens in the Scottish Parliament, serving with Patrick Harvie from March 2019 to May 2021.[10] In 2020, she introduced a measure to grant protected species status to the mountain hare in Scotland, which was accepted on 17 June 2020.[11]

Johnstone previously represented the Green Party at First Minister's Questions and in September 2019 sketch writer Stephen Daisley commented, "Going by her performance at First Minister's Questions, they [the Greens] should dump the rest and put her in charge full-time. Unlikely as it sounds, she was the star of this week’s FMQs, giving Nicola Sturgeon the toughest time she’s had in parliament in many a week."[12]

Presiding Officer

On 13 May 2021, Johnstone stood unopposed in the election to appoint the 6th Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. A yes/no vote was held on her nomination, and she won with 97 Yes votes,[13] 29 No votes, two abstentions and one spoilt vote.[14] The Presiding Officer is required to be impartial,[15] so Johnstone had to give up her party affiliation with the Scottish Greens to take on the role.[2]

She is the first Green MSP to serve as Presiding Officer. She is also the second Presiding Officer to be elected unopposed, after George Reid in 2003.[14]

Johnstone is the second woman in the post. The first was Tricia Marwick, who was Presiding Officer from 2011 to 2016.[16]

On 14 May 2021, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing and Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur were elected as the two Deputy Presiding Officers.[17] This is the first time since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 that neither the Presiding Officer nor any of the deputies has been a Labour or Conservative MSP.[17]

Personal life


Johnstone has a husband and daughter.[18][4]

Notes


  1. Party membership suspended while Presiding Officer

References


  1. Chris Marshall and Carla Gray (7 May 2011). "Scottish Parliament election: Profiles of the candidates elected to serve in Edinburgh". Edinburgh Evening News. Archived from the original on 9 May 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  2. Thomson, Jack (13 May 2021). "Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone elected as new presiding officer". Holyrood. Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  3. Lindsey Johnstone (6 May 2011). "Scotland fails to go Green". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  4. "Ten Questions: Alison Johnstone". Edinburgh Evening News. edinburghnews.scotsman.com. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  5. Johnstone, Alison (15 September 2010). "How a campaign for joggers could see Alison run for parliament". the Guardian. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  6. "New co-leader for Scottish Greens". BBC News. BBC. 24 September 2007.
  7. "Edinburgh Central – Scottish Parliament constituency – Election 2016". BBC News. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  8. "Lothian – Scottish Parliament electoral region – Election 2016". BBC News. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  9. "Scottish Greens announce portfolios of new Holyrood group". The Herald. Glasgow. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  10. "Scottish Greens appoint Alison Johnstone as new co-leader". BBC News. 3 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  11. "Wildlife Scotland to ban mass culling of mountain hares". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  12. "Alison's aim is true on SNP missed targets". Stephen Daisley. 27 September 2019.
  13. "Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone to be new presiding officer". BBC News. 13 May 2021. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  14. Grant, Alistair (13 May 2021). "Green MSP Alison Johnstone elected Holyrood's new Presiding Officer". The Herald. Glasgow. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  15. "Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officers". Scottish Parliament. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  16. Hutcheon, Paul (13 May 2021). "Green MSP Alison Johnstone makes history by becoming Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer". The Herald. Glasgow. Archived from the original on 13 May 2021. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  17. Davidson, Jenni (14 May 2021). "Scottish Parliament's deputy presiding officers elected after five-hour voting session". Holyrood. Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 17 May 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  18. Edinburgh Greens. "Alison Johnstone". edinburghgreens.org.uk. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.