Veteran Borders MSP to defend seat at 2021 Holyrood election

Veteran Borders MSP Christine Grahame is to stand again for the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale seat she’s held since 2011 at next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

By Darin Hutson
Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 12:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 12:22 pm
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame is hoping to add to her 21 years in Holyrood.
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame is hoping to add to her 21 years in Holyrood.

The 76-year-old Scottish National Party candidate had been contemplating retiring but is now setting her sights on notching up a quarter-century in Holyrood.

“With many of my colleagues who have been in parliament since 1999 standing down, after much consideration I decided to seek re-election,” she said.

“This is a crucial election for the cause of independence and we will need experienced MSPs to reach that goal”

“I have 21 years of serving as an MSP and I consider that will be needed in the years to come.

“I am particularly concerned that the residents of the constituency will need the support of an experienced MSP during the trying times of this pandemic.

“For these reasons, I am therefore offering myself once more as a candidate for the constituency of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale.

Ms Grahame is one of the founder members of the Scottish Parliament, having been named as an SNP list MSP for the South of Scotland in May 1999 after contesting the old constituency seat of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale that year under her married name of Christine Creech and losing out to Liberal Democrat Ian Jenkins by 12,078 votes to 7,600.

She stood for that same seat again in 2003 and 2007, coming runner-up to another Lib Dem, Jeremy Purvis, both times, by 7,197 votes to 6,659 then 10,656 to 10,058.

Next time round, however, in 2011, she won the successor seat she’s held ever since, ousting Mr Purvis after polling 13,855 votes to his 8,931.

She’s defended that seat once since, seeing off Conservative contender Michelle Ballantyne in 2016 by 16,031 votes to 10,163 and increasing her share of the ballots cast from 43.5% to 45.1%.

During her two decades at Holyrood, Staffordshire-born Ms Grahame, a mother of two, has chaired four of its major committees and is currently a deputy presiding officer alongside Linda Fabiani although, because her age puts her at greater risk from coronavirus, that role is temporarily being filled by Lewis Macdonald.

She also stood for depute leadership of the SNP in 2004, hoping to replace Roseanna Cunningham, but was defeated by present first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The next Scottish Parliament election is scheduled for Thursday, May 6, if not called before then.

Ms Grahame, formerly a teacher and later a solicitor, will be up against Mrs Ballantyne, 57, again at the next election.

The former Selkirkshire councillor, a Tory list MSP for South Scotland since May 2017, was reselected to contest the seat in July last year.