Martin Whitfield

Martin David Whitfield[1] (born 12 August 1965)[2] is a Scottish Labour politician and former primary school teacher. He has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the South Scotland region since the election in May 2021.

Martin Whitfield

Whitfield in 2017
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for South Scotland
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
Assumed office
6 May 2021
Member of Parliament
for East Lothian
In office
8 June 2017  6 November 2019
Preceded byGeorge Kerevan
Succeeded byKenny MacAskill
Personal details
Born (1965-08-12) 12 August 1965 (age 55)
Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Rachel Whitfield
Alma materHuddersfield Polytechnic

Whitfield previously served in the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Lothian[3] from the 2017 general election,[4] when he unseated the sitting MP, George Kerevan of the Scottish National Party,[5] until his defeat at the 2019 general election by Kenny MacAskill.

Early life, education and career

Whitfield was born in Gosforth in Newcastle and achieved a BA (Hons) in Business Law from Huddersfield Polytechnic. He worked as a solicitor between 1989 and 2001, before leaving the law profession to retrain as a teacher at the University of Edinburgh, achieving a PGCPE pass with merit in teaching in 2002.[6]

Prior to his election, Whitfield worked at Prestonpans Primary School[7] and served as a council member of the General Teaching Council for Scotland as well as a member of the EIS, Scotland's largest trade union.[8][9] He was also Chair of Prestonpans Community Council and involved in a number of community groups.

Political career

Whitfield was an active opponent of Brexit and a strong supporter of a second referendum.[10][11]

He supported the official recognition of non-binary people in official government documentation.[12] He was one of 216 general election candidates to pledge support for the Israel Election Pledge.[13]

Whitfield attracted controversy in a debate on the abuse of MPs when he claimed that "now is the time to ban anonymous social media accounts".[14] Whitfield claimed he was echoing similar remarks from SNP MEP Alyn Smith.

In June 2018, Whitfield led an adjournment debate on the challenges faced by people with 'hidden' disabilities, particularly in relation to the use of accessible toilets and cited the Grace's Sign campaign run by a young constituent, Grace Warnock.[15] In June 2019 he led a further backbench debate on invisible disabilities and accessibility challenges, including the new Any Disability Sign.[16]

Whitfield was a strong critic of the Government's Universal Credit system and was one of the first Labour MPs to call for the new benefit to be replaced entirely.[17]

In October 2018 he attracted widespread praise after leading a Commons debate on World Menopause Day.[18]

Following the announcement that the US would impose tariffs on Single Malt Scotch Whisky from 18 October 2019, Whitfield took a leading role in efforts to encourage the UK Government to persuade US counterparts to reconsider the move and co-ordinated a letter to the US Ambassador.[19]

Whitfield was a member of several All-Party Parliamentary Groups, including the Timber Industries APPG, which he chaired.[20] He was also a member of the Commons' Science and Technology Select Committee.[21]

Whitfield was the Co-Chair of Anas Sarwar's unsuccessful 2017 Scottish Labour leadership campaign.[22] He supported MP Ian Murray's UK Labour deputy leadership campaign, MSP Jackie Baillie's Scottish Labour deputy leadership campaign, and both of Anas Sarwar's Scottish Labour leadership campaigns.

He lost his seat at the 2019 general election to the SNP candidate, Kenny McAskill. Whitfield is standing for election to the Scottish Parliament in the East Lothian constituency and the South Scotland regional list at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.[23][24]

Whitfield is a supporter and executive committee member for the organisation Scientists for Labour, providing advice and input to Keir Starmer's office on the COVID-19 pandemic.[25]

At the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, Whitfield was elected on the South Scotland list vote.[26]

Personal life

Whitfield lives in Prestonpans with his family: he is married, with two children.[8]


  1. "No. 27885". The Edinburgh Gazette. 19 June 2017. p. 1076.
  2. The Times guide to the House of Commons 2017. Ian Brunskill. London. 2017. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-00-826333-1. OCLC 1024165015.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. "Martin Whitfield MP". UK Parliament.
  4. "East Lothian parliamentary constituency – Election 2017" via
  5. "East Lothian". Election 2017. BBC News. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  6. "ABOUT". Martin Whitfield MP. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  7. "Whitfield, Martin". Who's Who. 2018 (February 2018 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 13 February 2018. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  8. "Labour confirm candidate for General Election". East Lothian Courier. 28 April 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  9. "Labour confirm candidate for General Election". East Lothian Courier. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  10. "Martin Whitfield: People's Vote is the best way to agree a decisive way forward". Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  11. "Why Boris Johnson's deal is 'gateway to catastrophic hard Brexit' – Martin Whitfield MP". Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  12. "Scotland's new MPs – June 2017 — Equality Network". Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  13. "Pledge – We Believe in Israel". We Believe in Israel. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  14. "UK Elections: Abuse and Intimidation – Hansard Online". Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  15. "Accessibility Challenges: Invisible Disabilities – Hansard". Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  16. "Invisible Disabilities and Accessibility Challenges – Hansard". Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  17. MP, Martin Whitfield. "Time to replace Universal Credit". Martin Whitfield MP. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  18. "World Menopause Day – Hansard". Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  19. "Cross-party MSPs wrote to US over whisky tariff increase". Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  20. "Martin Whitfield MP elected new Chair of Timber Industries APPG". Confederation of Timber Industries. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  21. "Science and Technology Committee (Commons)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  22. Sarwar, Anas [@AnasSarwar] (4 September 2017). "Thank you for your support & encouragement. Delighted that @MartWhitfieldMP & @pauline4glasgow will be co-chairing my campaign for leaderhttps" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  23. Duncan, Emma (12 November 2020). "Labour names former East Lothian MP as its Holyrood 2021 candidate". East Lothian Courier.
  24. Rodgers, Sienna (1 February 2021). "Exclusive: Scottish Labour list selection ballot votes and results revealed". LabourList.
  25. "ABOUT SFL". SfL. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  26. Berkeley, Sam (8 May 2021). "AS IT HAPPENED: SNP fall just short of Scottish Parliament majority after SNP win East Lothian". East Lothian Courier. Retrieved 8 May 2021.