Christine Grahame

Official portrait, 2021
Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
In office
12 May 2016 – 14 May 2021
Presiding OfficerKen Macintosh
Preceded byJohn Scott and Elaine Smith
Succeeded byAnnabelle Ewing and Liam McArthur
Convener of the Justice Committee
In office
14 June 2011 – 23 March 2016
Preceded byJohn Lamont
Succeeded byMargaret Mitchell
In office
6 September 2001 – 31 March 2003
Preceded byAlasdair Morgan
Succeeded byPauline McNeill
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded byJeremy Purvis
Majority5,868
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for South of Scotland
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
In office
6 May 1999 – 5 May 2011
Personal details
Born
Christine Grahame

(1944-09-09) 9 September 1944 (age 77)
Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Political partyScottish National Party
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
OccupationSolicitor
Websitewww.christinegrahame.com

Christine Grahame (formerly Creech; born 9 September 1944) is a Scottish politician who served as a Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament from 2016 to 2021. A member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), she has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency since 2011, having previously represented the South of Scotland region from 1999 to 2011.

Born in Staffordshire, England, and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, she attended the University of Edinburgh and Moray House College of Education. After graduating, Grahame worked as an English teacher in secondary schools. In 1984, she graduated from the Edinburgh University again, but this time with a Bachelor of Laws degree. After gaining Diploma in Legal Practice she worked as a solicitor. Grahame was the SNP's candidate for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale in the 1992 UK General election, but failed to win the seat. In 1999, she ran for equivalent constituency in the new Scottish Parliament. Although she was unsuccessful, she was elected as an additional member of the South of Scotland region.

Grahame ran for Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party in the 2004 leadership election, but was defeated by Nicola Sturgeon. In 2011, she was elected MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale. Following the 2016 election to the 5th Scottish Parliament, Grahame was elected Deputy Presiding Officer. She held the position alongside Linda Fabiani from 2016 until 2021. She has served on the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body since May 2021.[1]

Early life and education

Christine Grahame was born on 9 September 1944 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, to a Scottish father and English mother. Her maternal grandfather was Welsh.[2] Grahame was brought up in Edinburgh, attending Boroughmuir High School.

She attained a Scottish Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1965 and gained her Diploma of Education from Moray House College of Education in 1966. After graduating, Grahame worked as a secondary teacher of English in a number of schools in Fife and Dumfries and Galloway.[3]

After a period as a housewife, she returned to Edinburgh University as a mature student where she earned a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1984 and a Diploma in Legal Practice in 1985, subsequently practising as a solicitor at a number of law firms until her election as an MSP in 1999.[4]

Political career

Christine Grahame's office in Galashiels
Christine Grahame's office in Galashiels

Grahame joined the Scottish National Party in 1970. Using her married name, Christine Creech, she was the SNP candidate at the 1992 General Election for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale. In 1994 she stood for election to the European Parliament, again unsuccessfully. At the 1999 Scottish Parliament election she ran for the equivalent constituency.

Member of the Scottish Parliament

Although she finished second, her position on the SNP regional list took her to Holyrood, after which she divorced and reverted to her maiden name. She contested Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale at the 2003 and 2007 elections, coming within 1,000 votes of victory on both occasions and being subsequently elected on the regional South of Scotland list.[5] From 2001 to 2003, she was Convener of the Justice Committee.

In 2004, Grahame ran as a candidate for deputy leadership of the SNP after deputy leader Roseanna Cunningham entered the contest to replace leader John Swinney. She was defeated by Nicola Sturgeon. After the election, she was reshuffled from chair of the Scottish Parliament's Health committee to Shadow Minister for Social Justice, generally seen by media commentators as an upwards shift. In June 2005, she was elected Honorary President of the Federation of Student Nationalists.[citation needed]

In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, Grahame won the redrawn seat of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, defeating former Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Jeremy Purvis.[6] Following her election, she was again selected as Convener of the Justice Committee for the session.

Deputy Presiding Officer

In the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, Grahame held the seat, increasing her share of the vote to 45.1%. Following the 2016 election, she was elected as Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, serving alongside Linda Fabiani MSP.[7] Grahame was also re-elected as Convener of the Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare.[8] During the COVID-19 pandemic, she went into self isolation as someone over 70 years old and therefore at more risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.[9] In April 2020, Scottish Labour's Lewis Macdonald was elected as interim Deputy Presiding Officer in her absence.[10]

Return to backbenches

In the 2021 Scottish Parliament election Grahame was re-elected as an MSP. She has served on the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body since May 2021.[1]

Causes

Since entering the Scottish Parliament in 1999 Grahame has picked up a number of causes, notably;

Borders Railway

For more information see: Borders Railway

One of Grahame's first actions as an MSP in 1999 was to set up a Cross Party Group to support the work of public petitions on the re-establishment of the Borders Railway[11] which had been closed in 1969 during the controversial Beeching cuts. She continued to campaign for this for a number of years, with the line eventually opening between Edinburgh and Tweedbank in 2015.

Grahame has named her continued support of this as one of her biggest achievements[12] and said on its opening “As someone who has campaigned for the return of the Waverley Line since 1999, it was an absolute privilege to be have finally traveled the length of the journey by rail, and to appreciate our wonderful countryside from a new perspective. So far this project has been an overwhelming success... If my experience is anything to go by, this will undoubtedly bring many, many visitors to Midlothian and the Borders as well as encouraging people to stay and live in the area.”[13]

Great Tapestry of Scotland

In late 2015 Grahame became involved in a public dispute with Scottish Borders Council over the siting of the Great Tapestry of Scotland in the constituency.[14] Councillors had approved a £6m purpose built visitor centre at Tweedbank Railway Station, however Grahame contested that the business case was flawed and persuaded Scottish Government ministers to investigate this further before releasing the funding required to create it.[15] Grahame favoured siting the tapestry in a disused building in Galashiels arguing that that option had more potential to regenerate the area and encourage tourists to access transport links from Galashiels to the wider region.[16]

In June 2016 one councillor resigned from the SNP over Grahame's intervention, claiming it represented a "lack of support" for SNP councillors and that he had not voted for her in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.[17]

However, Grahame's position was eventually vindicated, with the council recommending Galashiels as the preferred site in December 2016 stating "Galashiels offers the greatest potential to provide a world class attraction which will make a significant contribution to the Borders economy.”[18]

Lockerbie Bombing

Grahame has been outspoken in her view that the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing is unsafe and represents a miscarriage of justice.[19] In May 2009, Grahame visited Megrahi, in Greenock jail. After her visit, she told the press: "I found it quite upsetting. The man is obviously very ill and he is desperate to see his family – absolutely desperate to see his family – so, whatever it takes, that's the priority. He did tell me things I can't discuss with you. But I am absolutely more convinced than ever that there has been a miscarriage of justice."[20] A month later, Grahame arranged a second meeting with the prisoner, Megrahi.[21]

A few days after the dropping of Megrahi's appeal against conviction and his release on compassionate grounds on 20 August 2009, Grahame wrote an op-ed article for The Independent saying she is convinced of his innocence: "He is not a saint, of course – he had a history with Libyan intelligence – but his hands are clean over Lockerbie."[22]

Grahame has lodged several questions and motions on this in the Scottish Parliament[23] and continues to be involved with campaign groups on the matter.

Republicanism

Grahame is a supporter of the political organisation Republic, a campaign to replace the British Monarchy with an elected head of state.[24] In July 2009, Grahame snubbed Elizabeth II by checking her e-mails rather than attending the royal speech at Holyrood to mark the tenth anniversary of Scottish devolution. The move drew some criticism from commentators and fellow MSPs, however on the BBC Radio Good Morning Scotland programme, Grahame stated: "I'm earning and working for my constituents far more than if I sit hypocritically in the chamber watching a monarch for an institution I do not support."[25]

Personal life

Grahame has two sons and is a grandmother.[26] She has stated previously she has a harmless neurological tremor, which is hereditary and can cause visible shaking.[27]

References

  1. ^ a b "Christine Grahame". www.parliament.scot. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  2. ^ "The Christine Grahame Column". bordertelegraph.com. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Personal Information". www.scottish.parliament.uk. 5 June 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Personal Information". www.scottish.parliament.uk. 5 June 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  5. ^ "BBC NEWS | Election 2007 | Scottish Parliament | Election Result: South of Scotland". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Election 2011 – Scotland – Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale". BBC News. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Ken Macintosh chosen as Holyrood presiding officer". BBC News. 12 May 2016.
  8. ^ "MSPs: Cross-Party Groups: Animal Welfare". www.parliament.scot. 9 September 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  9. ^ Hall, Jamie (2 April 2020). "North-east MSP gains new role in Scottish Parliament". Evening Express. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  10. ^ Beaton, Ailean (1 April 2020). "Lewis Macdonald elected temporary Deputy Presiding Officer". Holyrood Website. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  11. ^ Report, Official (24 January 2014). "Official Report". Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  12. ^ "SNP on right track to secure a victory". www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Midlothian MSP takes a trip on new railway". www.midlothianadvertiser.co.uk. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  14. ^ "SNP councillors and MSP embroiled in feud over Great Tapestry of Scotland". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Great Tapestry of Scotland's Tweedbank business case examined". BBC News. 28 January 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  16. ^ "Borders councillors being advised to pick Galashiels to host Great Tapestry of Scotland". www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  17. ^ "SBC Councillor quits over tapestry". Border Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Council ditches Tweedbank to give Gala the Great Tapestry". Border Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Christine Grahame: Al-Megrahi is home. And he is innocent". The Independent. 23 August 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  20. ^ Alison Campsie (9 May 2009). "Megrahi desperate to see his family, says MSP". Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2009.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Lockerbie bomber 'in a quandary'". BBC News. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2009.
  22. ^ "Christine Grahame: Al-Megrahi is home. And he is innocent". The Independent. London. 23 August 2009.
  23. ^ Office, Chamber (16 June 2016). "Motions, Questions and Answers Search". Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  24. ^ ""Republic" website". Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  25. ^ "MSP 'snubs' Queen to read e-mails". BBC Scotland. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2009.
  26. ^ "Christine Grahame". www.snp.org. Scottish National Party. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  27. ^ Report, Official (18 April 2016). "Search the Official Report". Retrieved 19 January 2017.
Scottish Parliament Preceded byJeremy Purvis Member of the Scottish Parliament for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale2011–present Incumbent