Monica Lennon (née Ward; born January 1981) is a Scottish Labour Party politician who has served as a regional list Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Central Scotland region since the 2016 Scottish Parliament election and Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport since 4 October 2018.
Lennon in 2016
|Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport|
|Assumed office |
4 October 2018
|Preceded by||Anas Sarwar|
|Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government|
19 December 2017 – 4 October 2018
|Preceded by||Alex Rowley (Community, Social Security and Equalities)|
|Succeeded by||Alex Rowley|
|Member of the Scottish Parliament|
for Central Scotland
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
|Assumed office |
6 May 2016
January 1981 (age 39)
Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Scotland
|Political party||Scottish Labour Party|
|Alma mater||University of Strathclyde|
Early life and career
Lennon was born in Bellshill and raised in Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, the daughter of Gerald "Gerry" Ward, a council health and safety manager, and his wife Helen. She attended the co-educational, Roman Catholic John Ogilvie High School in Hamilton.
Lennon studied environmental planning at the University of Strathclyde, graduating with a BA degree in 2001. While studying she lived with her father. Her parents had separated, and later divorced, as a result of her father's drinking which developed into severe alcoholism.
From 2001 until 2007, Lennon worked as a planning officer for South Lanarkshire Council. She married at the age of 24 but felt forced to exclude her father from the wedding because of his alcoholism; he died 60 years old. After leaving South Lanarkshire Council, she worked as a surveyor for commercial property consultancy Knight Frank, also freelancing as a planning consultant, until her election in 2012.
In the 2012 South Lanarkshire Council election, Lennon was elected to represent Hamilton North and East. Then, in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, she was second on Scottish Labour's Central Scotland regional list and was elected as a Member of the Scottish Parliament. Shortly after being elected, she was appointed by leader Kezia Dugdale as Shadow Minister for Inequalities, a role in which she campaigned to raise awareness about the need for women to check themselves for signs of breast cancer.
In the 2017 Scottish Labour Party leadership election, Lennon nominated fellow Central Scotland MSP and left-wing ally Richard Leonard. In December 2017, Leonard announced his new Shadow Cabinet, in which she was promoted to Spokesperson for Communities and Local Government.
In November 2017, Lennon went public with how she was sexually assaulted by a Labour colleague while other colleagues brushed off the incident at a party in 2013. Following revelations of similar incidents within the party, she argued that the party and British politics had an institutional problem with sexual assault and harassment.
On 6 September 2018, Lennon made a speech in which she spoke of a constituent who had committed suicide shortly after Christmas 2017. The constituent pled with health services for help eight times in the six days directly before he died, but was either turned away or referred elsewhere. Lennon asked Nicola Sturgeon to take urgent action to review suicide prevention procedures in NHS Lanarkshire.
In an October 2018 Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, Lennon was again promoted to Spokesperson for Health and Sport, replacing Richard Leonard's former leadership rival Anas Sarwar. She used the position to campaign for institutions to provide free menstrual hygiene products, to tackle period poverty.
Lennon is married with one daughter, Isabella. She is a feminist and a vegetarian, and suffers from ailurophobia, an irrational fear of cats.
- "Getting to know you: Monica Lennon". Holyrood Magazine. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
- Wilson, Jim. "MSP Monica Lennon reveals anger, guilt and sadness at devastation inflicted by her dad's drink problem". Sunday Post. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
- "MSP didn't invite alcoholic father to wedding". 26 October 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
- "Election 2016: Central Scotland. Scottish Parliament region". BBC News. 6 May 2016.
- Barnes, Julie-Anne (15 January 2017). "MSP's breast cancer scare after waiting a month to go to GP". dailyrecord. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
- "Nominations 2017 | Scottish Labour Party". web.archive.org. 16 September 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
- "New Scottish shadow cabinet in full". LabourList. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
- McGinty, Brendan (5 November 2017). "Labour MSP Monica Lennon reveals she was sexually assaulted by colleague". dailyrecord. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
- "Young People (Mental Wellbeing): 6 Sep 2018: Scottish Parliament debates". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
- Scotland, BBC (4 October 2018). "Sarwar and Baillie out in Scottish Labour reshuffle". BBC News. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- "Monica Lennon launches her period poverty bill". Holyrood Website. 4 October 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
- Hutcheon, Paul (19 December 2019). "Labour MSPs break party whip by abstaining on SNP IndyRef2 Bill at Holyrood". dailyrecord. Retrieved 5 February 2020.