Alison Johnstone
Official portrait, 2016
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 56)[1]
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political partyIndependent (since 2021)[n 1]
Other political
affiliations
Scottish Greens (until May 2021)[2]
Children1
WebsiteOfficial website

Alison Johnstone (born 11 October 1965) is a Scottish politician who has served 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] She has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Lothian region since 2011.[3]

Johnstone was born and raised in Edinburgh, where she attended St. Augustine's High School.[4] She worked as an assistant to Robin Harper, the first ever elected Green Party politician in the UK. In 2007, Johnstone was nominated unopposed as co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, serving alongside Harper. The same year she was elected to the City of Edinburgh Council, representing the Meadows/Morningside ward until 2012. In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, she was elected as an additional member of the Lothian region. Following the 2019 Scottish Green co-leadership election, Johnstone served as the co-leader within the Scottish Parliament, until the 2021 election.

Following the election to the 6th Scottish Parliament, Johnstone was the only candidate to run for Presiding Officer. She received 97 votes in-favour and was elected unopposed as Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. Johnstone is the second female and first former Green Party member to hold the position of office.

Early life and education

Alison Johnstone was born on 11 October 1965 in Edinburgh, Scotland. She attended St. Augustine's High School.[4] Johnstone 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]

Early political career

Johnstone worked as an assistant to Robin Harper, from 1999 until Harper stood down in March 2011. In the 2007 Scottish local elections, she was elected to City of Edinburgh Council. She represented the Meadows/Morningside ward and was one of the first Green Party politicians elected to the council. She stood down from the council in the 2012 Scottish local elections.

Co-convener of the Scottish Greens

Following the Scottish Greens' poor performance at the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, she was nominated unopposed as co-convener of the Scottish Greens.[6] Johnstone was "certain that the Green Party will grow and attract more support as the other parties reveal themselves to lack the ambition to really change course from business as usual when it comes to the crunch". She served alongside Robin Harper, and both were replaced in 2008 as co-conveners by Patrick Harvie and Eleanor Scott.

Member of the Scottish Parliament

In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, Johnstone was elected as an additional member for the Lothian region.

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]

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

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. ^ a b c d 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. ^ a b c "Ten Questions: Alison Johnstone". Edinburgh Evening News. edinburghnews.scotsman.com. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b 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. 18 June 2020. 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. ^ a b 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. ^ a b 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.
Video
Political offices Preceded byKen Macintosh Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament 2021–present Incumbent Party political offices Preceded byShiona Baird Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Partywith Robin Harper 2007–2008 Succeeded byEleanor Scott