Robin Harper

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Robin Harper
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Lothians
In office
6 May 1999 – 11 May 2011
Personal details
Born (1940-08-04) 4 August 1940 (age 74)
Thurso, Caithness, Scotland
Political party Scottish Green Party
Alma mater University of Aberdeen
Profession Teacher
Website Official website

Robin Harper, FRSSA (born 4 August 1940) is a Scottish politician, and was a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Lothians region. He was co-convener of the Scottish Green Party (2004–2008). Harper became an MSP in the first elections to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the first ever elected Green parliamentarian in the United Kingdom.

Background, education and career[edit]

Harper was educated at St Marylebone Grammar School and Elgin Academy. He graduated in 1962 from the University of Aberdeen. He worked as a modern studies teacher at Boroughmuir High School, Edinburgh, and before that as an English teacher in Kenya.

Harper is a patron of many organisations including LGBT Youth Scotland, an organisation dedicated to the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people in the life of Scotland. He is married. He is also an Honorary Vice-President of English-Speaking Union Scotland. He was elected as Rector of the University of Aberdeen in 2005, having previously served as Rector of the University of Edinburgh. Harper is also the Honorary President of the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group.[1]

In 2008 he was appointed President of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts.

In 2011 he appeared with his wife Jenny on 'Bargain Hunt', which they won with an £85 profit, and winning the 'Golden Gavel' award, having made profits on all 3 purchases, and on the bonus buy.

In September 2014, Harper became chairman of the Scottish Wildlife Trust.[2]

Scottish Parliament[edit]

Harper stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, and was elected as an additional member for the Lothians region, becoming the first ever elected Green parliamentarian in Britain's political history. In an emotional speech, he promised to be a critical voice on the environment in the Parliament.[3] He criticised the Scottish Executive's decision to split ministerial responsibility for the environment in 2001.[4] He served as his party's sole representative in the first Parliament (1999–2003) until the 2003 election, when the Scottish Green Party won another 6 seats in the regional lists.[5] In 2004 he was a member of the Scottish Parliament team in the TV general knowledge show University Challenge: The Professionals. He and fellow team members Richard Baker (Labour), Jamie Stone (Lib Dem) who was captain, and Stewart Stevenson (SNP) beat a Welsh Assembly team by 110 points to 75.[6]

In January 2007, The Scotsman reported that Harper was being considered for the next Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. Harper stated that he did not know of this story, but said "it would be an honour even to be considered".[7] Following the 2007 elections to the Scottish Parliament, Harper was returned as a list MSP for the Lothians, this time one of only two Green Party members elected.[8] After an agreement with the Scottish National Party, the party with the largest mandate from the election, the Green MSPs including Harper voted for Alex Salmond to become First Minister of Scotland but the Greens declined to enter a formal coalition with the SNP. As part of the deal, fellow Green MSP Patrick Harvie was nominated to head the Holyrood Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee.[9] In 2009, Harper and Harvie voted to reject an SNP government budget.[10] He is the party's spokesman on education and young people.

At the beginning of December 2013, Harper announced that he would "absolutely vote No" in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, going on to say that he would like to help the Better Together campaign and that there was a "significant minority” of Greens who were opposed to independence. [11]


  1. ^ EUSOG. "the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "News: Former Green MSP becomes Trust Chairman". Scottish Wildlife Trust. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Historic Green victory", BBC News, 7 May 1999.
  4. ^ "Greens see red over executive shake-up", BBC News, 21 March 2001.
  5. ^ "Greens in seven heaven", BBC News, 2 May 2003.
  6. ^ Scots win in 'Paxo' challenge (BBC), BBC News, 28 June 2004
  7. ^ "Harper tipped to be Presiding Officer". Scotland on Sunday. 28 January 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Smaller parties suffer at polls", BBC News, 4 May 2007.
  9. ^ "SNP and Greens sign working deal", BBC News, 11 May 2007.
  10. ^ "Scottish budget rejected by MSPs", "BBC News", 28 January 2009.
  11. ^ "Robin Harper to vote No", "Edinburgh News. Scotsman", 3 December 2013.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Principal Speaker of the Scottish Green Party
with Marian Coyne 1999
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
New position
Convenor of the Scottish Green Party
Succeeded by
Eleanor Scott
Preceded by
New position
Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party
with Shiona Baird 2004–2007,
Alison Johnstone 2007–2008

Succeeded by
Patrick Harvie
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Colquhoun
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
Tam Dalyell
Preceded by
Clarissa Dickson Wright
Rector of the University of Aberdeen
Succeeded by
Stephen Robertson