Christine Grahame

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Christine Grahame
MSP
ChristineGrahameMSP20110510.JPG
Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
Assumed office
12 May 2016
Serving with Linda Fabiani
Preceded by John Scott
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale
Assumed office
6 May 2011
Preceded by Jeremy Purvis
Majority 5868
Convener of the Scottish Parliament
Justice Committee
In office
14 June 2011 – 23 March 2016
Deputy Jenny Marra
Preceded by John Lamont
Succeeded by Margaret Mitchell
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for South of Scotland
In office
6 May 1999 – 5 May 2011
Preceded by new parliament
Personal details
Born Christine Grahame
(1944-09-09) 9 September 1944 (age 73)
Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Political party Scottish National Party
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Website www.christinegrahame.com

Christine Grahame (M.A, LLB, Dip. ED, Dip. LLP, NP; born 9 September 1944) is a Scottish politician. She has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament since its inception in 1999 and has since 2011 represented the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency, having previously been a member for the South of Scotland region from 1999 until 2011.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] Grahame was brought up in Edinburgh, attending Boroughmuir High School. She attained an MA from the University of Edinburgh in 1965 and subsequently gained her Diploma in 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.[2] After a period as a housewife, she returned to Edinburgh University as a mature student where she earned a law degree in 1984 and a Diploma in Legal Practice in 1985, subsequently practicing as a solicitor at a number of law firms until her election as an MSP in 1999.[3]

Political career[edit]

Christine Grahame's office in Galashiels, shared with Callum Kerr MP

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 fought Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale again.

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 both 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.[4] In 2004, she ran as a candidate for the Deputy Leadership of the SNP after the resignation of Leader John Swinney propelled Deputy Leader Roseanna Cunningham into the contest to replace him. 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 Parliamentary election, Grahame won the redrawn seat of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, defeating former Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Jeremy Purvis.[5] Following her election she was selected as Convener of the Justice Committee for the session.

In the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election she held the seat again, 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.[6] Grahame was also re-elected as Convener of the Cross Party Group on Animal Welfare.[7]

Causes[edit]

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[8] 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[9] 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.”[10]

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.[11] Councillors had appoved 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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14]

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.”[15]

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.[16] 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."[17] A month later, Grahame arranged a second meeting with the prisoner, Megrahi.[18]

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."[19]

Grahame has lodged several questions and motions on this in the Scottish Parliament[20] 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.[21] 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."[22]

Personal life[edit]

Grahame has two sons and is a grandmother.[23] She has stated previously she has a harmless neurological tremor, which is hereditary and can cause visible shaking.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Christine Grahame Column". bordertelegraph.com. 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2017-05-29. 
  2. ^ "Personal Information". www.scottish.parliament.uk. 2016-06-05. Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  3. ^ "Personal Information". www.scottish.parliament.uk. 2016-06-05. Retrieved 2016-12-20. 
  4. ^ "BBC NEWS | Election 2007 | Scottish Parliament | Election Result: South of Scotland". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Election 2011 - Scotland - Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale". BBC News. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Ken Macintosh chosen as Holyrood presiding officer". BBC News. 12 May 2016. 
  7. ^ "MSPs: Cross-Party Groups: Animal Welfare". www.parliament.scot. 2016-09-09. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  8. ^ Report, Official (2014-01-24). "Official Report". Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  9. ^ "SNP on right track to secure a victory". www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  10. ^ "Midlothian MSP takes a trip on new railway". www.midlothianadvertiser.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  11. ^ "SNP councillors and MSP embroiled in feud over Great Tapestry of Scotland". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  12. ^ "Great Tapestry of Scotland's Tweedbank business case examined". BBC News. 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  13. ^ "Borders councillors being advised to pick Galashiels to host Great Tapestry of Scotland". www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  14. ^ "SBC Councillor quits over tapestry". Border Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  15. ^ "Council ditches Tweedbank to give Gala the Great Tapestry". Border Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  16. ^ "Christine Grahame: Al-Megrahi is home. And he is innocent". The Independent. 2009-08-23. Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  17. ^ Alison Campsie (2009-05-09). "Megrahi desperate to see his family, says MSP". Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 2009-06-16. [permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Lockerbie bomber 'in a quandary'". BBC News. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  19. ^ "Christine Grahame: Al-Megrahi is home. And he is innocent". London: The Independent. 23 August 2009. 
  20. ^ Office, Chamber (2016-06-16). "Motions, Questions and Answers Search". Retrieved 2016-12-19. 
  21. ^ "Republic" website
  22. ^ "MSP 'snubs' Queen to read e-mails". BBC Scotland. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  23. ^ "Christine Grahame". www.snp.org. Scottish National Party. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  24. ^ Report, Official (2016-04-18). "Search the Official Report". Retrieved 2017-01-19. 

External links[edit]