Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Jack Thomson
13 May 2021
Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone elected as new presiding officer

Alison Johnstone, the new presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament (Picture: Alamy)

Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone elected as new presiding officer

Alison Johnstone has been elected as the new presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament.

She will replace Ken Macintosh, who confirmed that 97 MSPs had voted in favour of her taking up the role.

A total of 28 voted against the election of Johnstone, who was the only candidate, with two abstentions and one spoiled paper.

Johnstone will have to give up her affiliation with the Scottish Greens to take on the role.

Upon taking her seat, Johnstone said: "Here today, I've been afforded a great opportunity and an incredible privilege and one that I will never ever take for granted.

"You've afforded me the opportunity to take on a major challenge at an incredibly important time in Scotland's history.

"We face various challenges, we're just coming out of the end, we hope although we hear worrying statistics on a daily basis, of a pandemic that has affected the lives of each and every one of us.

"We've lost loved ones, people have lost livelihoods, it's a very challenging time for us all and it's the duty of the government and the parliament to do everything that we can to make sure that those living in Scotland have the best lives that they possibly can.

"And we continue to work together to reduce inequality and poverty.

"I want to encourage a culture of open debate in this parliament. I think we should be able to have that debate but I'd like to do so in an atmosphere of inclusivity, mutual tolerance and respect."

It means the Greens will now have seven MSPs and leaves Holyrood split with 64 SNP MSPs and 64 opposition MSPs. However, there is still a pro-independence majority of 71 MSPs.

The vote for the presiding officer was a secret ballot, meaning the electronic voting system was not used.

Johnstone has served as MSP for the Lothian region since 2011 and was an Edinburgh city councillor between 2007 and 2012.

She is from Edinburgh and, a former East of Scotland 800m and 1500m title holder, is a qualified athletics coach and board member of Scottish Athletics.

Johnstone has campaigned to preserve green space, for investment in walking and cycling and for access to sport for all.

She was the Scottish Greens spokeswoman for health and sport, social security, and children and young people.

Since March 2019, she had been the co-leader of the Greens in the Scottish Parliament, alongside Patrick Harvie.

Commenting on her election, the party's co-leaders Harvie and Lorna Slater said: "We congratulate Alison Johnstone on her election, and we are confident that she will be an even-handed moderator as parliament addresses the pressing challenges that Scotland faces over the next five years."

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Jack Thomson - Leader of the flock: 25 years on from Dolly the Sheep.

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top