Elaine Smith (Scottish politician)

Elaine Agnes Smith (born 5 May 1963) is a Scottish Labour Party politician. She has served as Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Central Scotland region since 2016, previously having been the MSP for the Coatbridge and Chryston constituency from 1999 until 2016.

Elaine Smith

Smith in 2011
Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
In office
11 May 2011  12 May 2016
Serving with John Scott
Presiding OfficerTricia Marwick
Preceded byTrish Godman
Succeeded byLinda Fabiani
Shadow Cabinet positions
Scottish Labour Parliamentary Business Manager
Assumed office
2 September 2019
LeaderRichard Leonard
Preceded byNeil Findlay
Scottish Labour Spokesperson for Eradication of Poverty and Inequality
In office
19 December 2017  2 September 2019
LeaderRichard Leonard
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byDavid Stewart
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Central Scotland
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
Assumed office
6 May 2016
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Coatbridge and Chryston
In office
6 May 1999  23 March 2016
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byFulton MacGregor
Personal details
Born (1963-05-05) 5 May 1963 (age 57)
Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland
Political partyScottish Labour Party
Other political
Campaign for Socialism
Spouse(s)Vann Smith
Children1 son
WebsiteElaine Smith MSP official biography

Early life and career

Smith was born in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire and attended St Patrick's School, a local co-educational Roman Catholic school.[1]

Smith studied Economics and Politics at Glasgow College and then trained as a Modern Studies and Economics teacher at St Andrews College, a Catholic teacher-training institution in Glasgow. She worked as a secondary school teacher before becoming a local government officer, also gaining a Diploma in Public Sector Management.[1]

Smith joined the trade unions Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU), later Unite the Union, and General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC).[1]

Political career

Smith was elected as a Scottish Labour MSP for her local constituency of Coatbridge and Chryston in the 1999 Scottish Parliament election, with a majority of 10,404. She subsequently went on to be returned in 2003, 2007 and 2011, with majorities of 8,571, 4,510 and 2,741 respectively. On 11 May 2011, she was elected to serve as one of two Deputy Presiding Officers of the Scottish Parliament.

In 2013, Smith voiced her opposition to same-sex marriage, claiming at a session of the Equal Opportunities Committee that its introduction could lead to polygamy.[2]

Smith supported Jeremy Corbyn during both the 2015 and 2016 Labour Party leadership elections.[3][4] During the 2016 European Union membership referendum, she backed Britain leaving the European Union, contrary to the position of the Labour Party.[5]

In the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, Smith lost her seat by 3,779 votes after watching her vote share drop by 17.6%.[6] She gained a list seat as one of seven additional members for the Central Scotland region and was returned for the new session. Following the retirement of Tricia Marwick, she attempted to be elected Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. However, she was defeated by Ken Macintosh, a fellow Labour MSP and one of the additional members for the West Scotland region.[7] After standing down as a Deputy Presiding Officer, she became a member of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.[8]

Smith supported Richard Leonard in the 2017 Scottish Labour Party leadership election.[9] Following Leonard's victory, she was appointed to his Shadow Cabinet and was given the new role of Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Eradication of Poverty and Inequality. Her appointment was controversial because of her record of opposing same-sex marriage.[10]

In February 2018, Smith invited pro-life academic Professor Priscilla K. Coleman to speak at an event in the Scottish Parliament discussing what Coleman believes is the harmful impact of abortion on mental health. After facing criticism from Scottish Labour colleagues, Smith withdrew the invitation, citing a "diary clash".[11] In response to the backlash, Richard Leonard said "It has been made clear to Elaine that she needs to comply with the party’s policy on issues like a woman’s right to choose."[12]

In September 2019, Smith announced she would be standing down at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election on health grounds.[13] Later that month, she became Scottish Labour Parliamentary Business Manager, replacing Neil Findlay.[14]


  1. "Personal Information". www.parliament.scot. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  2. "Polygamy could follow gay marriage, warns MSP". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  3. Alexander, James (13 August 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn prepares for his Scottish tour". The National. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  4. MSP, Elaine Smith (1 July 2016). "Happy to add my name to this! #KeepCorbyn". @elainesmithmsp. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  5. "Labour MSP breaks ranks to make 'left-wing' case for Brexit". STV News. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  6. "Scotland election 2016: Coatbridge and Chryston". BBC News. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  7. Brooks, Libby (12 May 2016). "Ken Macintosh elected as presiding officer of Scottish parliament". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  8. "Elaine Smith". www.parliament.scot. 24 October 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  9. MSP, Elaine Smith (9 September 2017). "Delighted to endorse my Central Scotland colleague @LabourRichard to be the next leader of @scottishlabour. He's the candidate #ForTheMany". @elainesmithmsp. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  10. "Scottish Labour leader shrugs off criticism over equality spokesperson who opposes gay equality". PinkNews - Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service. 9 January 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  11. Brooks, Libby (23 February 2018). "Scottish Labour MSP withdraws invitation to US academic". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  12. "Interview: Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  13. Tonner, Judith (3 September 2019). "Central Scotland MSP to stand down from Scottish Parliament before next election". dailyrecord. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  14. "Scottish Labour reshuffle as Sarah Boyack returns to frontline politics". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2 September 2019.