Iain Gray to stand down at 2021 election
Former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray will stand down at the 2021 election, the MSP has confirmed.
In a statement released today, Gray said he would be 69 by the end of the next parliament and that he wanted to spend more time with family.
Elected in 1999 as MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, Gray lost his seat to Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie in 2003, before returning to parliament as MSP for East Lothian in 2007.
Gray went on to become leader of Scottish Labour between 2008 and 2011.
He said: “Serving the East Lothian constituency has been one of the greatest honours of my life and I’ve enjoyed every moment of representing our unique and very special area at Holyrood. I often say that East Lothian is the best constituency in Scotland, and the best place in Scotland to live, and I mean it.
“I had the privilege of being part of the first Scottish Parliament intake in 1999, serving as a government minister under Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, before East Lothian gave me the opportunity to return to Holyrood in 2007 and then lead my party there, and I will always be grateful for that.
“The decision to stand down is not an easy one, and was made even harder by the incredibly difficult circumstances we have all faced over the last three months. However, I will be 64 next year, almost 69 by the end of the next parliament and after more than 20 years at the frontline of Scottish politics, next year is the right time for me to step aside and hand over to someone else to represent East Lothian’s interests.
“I really, genuinely do want to spend more time with my family, especially my wife Gil who has supported me unstintingly through all the ups and downs of political life, and the seven fantastic grandchildren with whom I am now blessed.
“Despite being in opposition throughout the 13 years I have been our MSP, I am proud of many of the things I have been able to achieve. I campaigned successfully against the attempt to impose an unwanted energy park on the former Cockenzie power station site, defeated proposals to close the police station in Tranent, led the campaign against the closure of Haddington's Sheriff and JP Court and helped secure improvements in local public transport.
“I also fought to make the Scottish Government deliver our new Community Hospital, a project which is now almost complete. I campaigned for East Lothian to get its fair share of central funding for schools and other vital local services, and opposed the creeping centralisation of planning decisions which has seen so many unwanted developments imposed on the county.
“However, I am most proud of having helped many thousands of constituents with a diverse range of problems and queries during my time as MSP. While it is not always possible to achieve the outcome a constituent wants, I have always done my very best to help them with their enquiries.
“I want to say a huge thank-you to all of the constituents who’ve shown me such support and kindness over the last 13 years, and the many local organisations, charities and businesses that have welcomed me during that time. Special thanks are due to all of my constituency office staff over the years, the best in the business, who do the hard work while I take the credit.
“I will, of course, continue to serve as the county’s MSP for the rest of my term and intend to do so to the best of my ability until the election in May next year.”