Pauline McNeill

Pauline Mary McNeill (born 12 September 1962) is a Labour politician and a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Glasgow regional list since 2016, having previously represented the Glasgow Kelvin constituency from 1999 to 2011.[1] In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election she stood but was not elected, however she returned to Parliament at the following election in 2016.

Pauline McNeill

McNeill in 2011
Convener of the Justice Committee
In office
7 May 2003  2 April 2007
Preceded byChristine Grahame
Succeeded byBill Aitken
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
Assumed office
6 May 2016
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Kelvin
In office
6 May 1999  22 March 2011
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded bySandra White
Personal details
Born (1962-09-12) 12 September 1962 (age 57)
Political partyScottish Labour Party
Spouse(s)Joseph Cahill
Alma materGlasgow College of Building and Printing
OccupationTrade unionist

Early life and career

McNeil was educated at the co-educational, Roman Catholic Our Lady's High School, Cumbernauld before training as a graphic illustrator at Glasgow College of Building and Printing. She was President of the National Union of Students Scotland from 1986 to 1988 and was subsequently an organiser for GMB Scotland, representing NHS, hospitality and factory staff.

An active member of the Labour Party since her time in the student movement, McNeill was also an executive committee member of the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly and a campaigner for devolution throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

During her first term as an MSP, McNeill graduated from Strathclyde Law School after a period combining legislating and night school.

Political career

McNeill was elected Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Kelvin in the 1999 Scottish Parliament election. In the 1999–2003 Parliament, she served as vice-chair of the Scottish Parliament Labour Group.

McNeill was re-elected as an MSP in 2003 and was appointed convener of the Justice Committee. She led parliamentary consideration of:

  • Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003
  • Civil Partnership Act 2004
  • Rights of Relatives to Damages (Mesothelioma) (Scotland) Bill
  • Scottish Criminal Record Office Inquiry
  • Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006
  • Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006

McNeill's committee also led consideration of reforms to the High Court amongst many other subjects and convened the first ever inquiry into the Crown and Procurator Fiscal Service, and helped deliver justice for asbestos victims in the Court of Session. In 2005, she was awarded the Equality Network's Friend for Life award for her work on the committee ensuring the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and Gender Recognition Act 2004 legislation passed at the British Government level were compliant with existing Scottish legislation. Later, her committee won Committee of the Year at the 2006 Scottish Politician of the Year Awards.

McNeill, a former band manager, was convener of the Cross Party Group on Contemporary Music. The group worked with key figures in the Scottish live music industry to launch the Scottish Live Music Manifesto and publish a Live Music Code of Conduct and Live Music Agreement, to improve protection for bands and young musicians from unscrupulous venues, agents and promoters.

McNeill was a staunch opponent of the Iraq War and campaigned for the right of protesters to picket the 2003 Scottish Labour Party Conference, which took place at the SECC in her own constituency.

McNeill was a demonstrator at the 2005 G8 protests in Edinburgh

On 2 July 2005, McNeill was a demonstrator in a Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh when the 31st G8 summit met at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire.

As Convener of the Cross Party Group on Palestine, she was a United Nations observer at the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. Later in 2006, she visited Lebanon in the aftermath of the war there.

In 2007, McNeill narrowly retained the Glasgow Kelvin seat with a reduced majority in the wake of public opposition to the national Labour government's invasion of Iraq, a policy she opposed. Following the election, she was appointed Scottish Labour Spokesperson for Children and Early Years and subsequently Spokesperson for Europe, External Affairs and Culture.

McNeill lost Glasgow Kelvin in 2011 but was elected on the Glasgow regional list in 2016. She is currently the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Equalities, Housing and Social Security.[2] In addition to this, she is Deputy Convenor of the Social Security Committee, a new committee created in response to the increase in devolved powers given by the Scotland Act 2016. She is also a substitute member for the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee and the Local Government and Communities Committee.

Local Campaigning

Kelvingrove Park bandstand in 2007
Refurbished Kelvingrove Park bandstand in 2016

From 1999 until 2011, McNeill corresponded with 15,000 constituents by letter or at meetings and surgeries.

McNeill has campaigned on the need for more affordable and social housing, and better regulation of housing in multiple occupation.

On the environment, McNeill has campaigned for more effective steps to increase recycling take-up and reduce energy usage.

On transport and planning, McNeill has called for better regulation of the bus industry, improvements to the Glasgow Subway, a more locally accountable planning system and improving local sports facilities. She has supported successful campaigns to grant Fair Trade status to the City of Glasgow and restore the Kelvingrove Park bandstand.

On crime, McNeill has sought better safety in Glasgow's city centre and the extension of community protections to its West End.

McNeill also unsuccessfully campaigned against the downgrading of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill and the Queen Mother's Hospital, including raising a 1,600-signature petition. However, children's services at what became West Glasgow Ambulatory Care Hospital closed in 2015 and their responsibilities were taken up by the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow.[3]

Political positions and views

Since her student days, McNeill has had a strong interest in defence and foreign policy issues. She opposes the replacement of Trident with a new nuclear weapons system, opposes the holding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and has spoken out in favour of the rights of asylum seekers and new migrants. She continues to speak out, both in parliament and at public demonstrations, on the need for Middle East peace.

McNeill remains a supporter of many student campaigns, including the successful campaign to elect Israeli dissident Mordechai Vanunu as Rector of Glasgow University and takes a keen interest in the welfare of students across the many further and higher institutions located in Glasgow.

Personal life

McNeill is married to Joseph Cahill, an advocate, who is a former police officer and Deputy Procurator Fiscal.


  1. "Pauline McNeill MSP's biography pages". Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  2. "Scottish Labour to consider targeted replacement for Help to Buy". Scottish Housing News. 11 March 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  3. "The Royal Hospital for Sick Children" (PDF).