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Derek Mackay

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Derek Mackay

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution, Derek Mackay.png
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work
Finance and the Constitution (2016–2018)
In office
18 May 2016 – 6 February 2020
First MinisterNicola Sturgeon
DeputyKate Forbes
Preceded byJohn Swinney
Succeeded byKate Forbes (Finance)
Fiona Hyslop (Economy, Fair Work and Culture)
Minister for Transport and Islands
In office
21 November 2014 – 18 May 2016
First MinisterNicola Sturgeon
Preceded byKeith Brown
Succeeded byHumza Yousaf
Minister for Local Government and Planning
In office
7 December 2011 – 21 November 2014
First MinisterAlex Salmond
Preceded byAileen Campbell
Succeeded byMarco Biagi
Chairman & Business Convener
of the Scottish National Party
In office
18 June 2011 – October 2018
LeaderAlex Salmond
Nicola Sturgeon
Preceded byBruce Crawford
Succeeded byKirsten Oswald
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Renfrewshire North and West
Assumed office
5 May 2011
Preceded byConstituency created
Majority7,373 (24.0%)
Personal details
Political partyIndependent (from 2020)
SNP (until 2020)[1]
ResidenceBishopton, Renfrewshire
Alma materUniversity of Paisley

Derek Mackay is a Scottish politician who served as Finance Secretary of Scotland for the Scottish National Party (SNP) from 2016 until his resignation in 2020, and has served as Member of the Scottish Parliament for Renfrewshire North and West since 2011. Mackay was elected to Renfrewshire Council in 1999 and was Leader of the Council from 2007 to 2011. Mackay previously served as Minister for Transport and Islands and Minister for Local Government and Planning.

On 6 February 2020, Mackay resigned as Finance Secretary and was suspended from the SNP after the Scottish Sun reported that he messaged a 16-year-old schoolboy 270 times over a six-month period on social media; he now sits as an independent MSP.

Early life and education

Mackay joined the SNP at 16 and was involved in both the youth, where he served as National Convener from 1998–2002, and student movements.[2] He was first elected as a councillor for Renfrewshire Council at the age of 21 in 1999, making him at the time the youngest male councillor in Scotland.[2]

Mackay attended Kirklandneuk Primary School and Renfrew High School.[2] He later attended the University of Glasgow, pursuing but ultimately abandoning a course in social work.[3]

Political career

Mackay was first elected as a councillor in 1999, representing the Blythswood Ward on Renfrewshire Council. After his election in 1999, he won three successive ward elections and became leader of Renfrewshire Council in May 2007, taking the SNP from opposition to lead the administration for the first time.[4] He became a national figure in local government, leading the SNP group in the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) from 2009 to 2011.[4] He coordinated the SNP campaign in the 2012 Scottish local government elections and the 2017 UK General Election.[5]

At the 2011 election, Mackay was adopted for the new constituency of Renfrewshire North and West while also being placed third on the SNP regional list for West Scotland region. Upon his election as the constituency MSP for Renfrewshire North and West, he was placed on the Finance Committee and also appointed as the SNP's Business Convener and Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy Bruce Crawford MSP.

Following a mini-reshuffle Mackay replaced Aileen Campbell as Minister for Local Government and Planning on 7 December 2011. When Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister of Scotland he was appointed as Minister for Transport and Islands.[6]

Following the Scottish Parliament election in 2016, Mackay was promoted to the Scottish Cabinet to serve as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution.[4] After a reshuffle in June 2018, Economy and Fair Work was added to his portfolio.[4]

In June 2011, Mackay was appointed as the SNP's Business Convener (party chair), succeeding Bruce Crawford. The Business Convener is responsible for chairing the SNP's Party Conference and the National Executive Committee; overseeing the party's management, administration and operations, as well as the coordination of election campaigns; working with the Chief Executive of Headquarters in setting priorities. Mackay stepped down from the role in October 2018.


On 5 February 2020, the Scottish Sun alerted the office of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about a story they were planning to run.[7][8] The story was to reveal that Derek Mackay had sent a 16-year-old boy 270 messages via Facebook and Instagram over several months.[9][10] The Scottish Sun told the BBC that they had been approached by the boy's mother, who had only become aware of the messages in the prior week.[8] The Scottish Government was accused of trying to stop publication of the article, questioning the "justification" of intruding into Mackays private life and claiming the Sun had a “moral obligation" to share the material in order for them "to offer any form of substantive response or view”. The Scottish Sun defended its position, stating that Alan Muir, its Scottish editor, had read out the "most significant and damaging messages" to Sturgeon’s office in two 15-minute phone conversations.[7]

On 6 February, Mackay resigned hours before the Scottish budget was due to be announced. Sturgeon announced that Mackay was suspended from the SNP, and said that she had accepted Mackay's resignation, recognising his "significant contribution to government" but admitting that his behaviour "failed to meet the standards required." In calling for Mackay to resign from the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Conservatives' then acting leader Jackson Carlaw suggested the messages could "constitute the grooming of a young individual".[9]

It was reported, by a former senior SNP staff member, that Sturgeon had previously banned Mackay from drinking at SNP party conferences, because of reports around his behaviour. Mackay joked to attendees at the 2017 conference that they would not see him later as, "Nicola won't let me".[11][7] It was also reported that Mackay had sent unwanted private social media messages to an activist aged 21 in 2016, which continued over the next four years.[7][12]

On 8 February, Police Scotland said that it had spoken to the schoolboy and that while it had not "received any complaint of criminality", it was "assessing available information".[13] It subsequently announced that it had reviewed the case and that Mackay would not face any charges, as no laws had been broken.[14]

Personal life

He came out as gay in 2013 and separated from his wife.[15] They have two sons together, who were aged 12 and 9 in February 2017.[16] Mackay lives in Bishopton, Renfrewshire, near Glasgow, with his boyfriend, a physiotherapist.[5] He lists his personal interests as reading, running and going to the gym. He is involved with the Paisley Fairtrade Partnership, and is a member of CND and Amnesty International.[17]

He was the Honorary Vice President of the Battalion for Paisley and District Boys' Brigade,[18] until being removed from the position following the revelations over him messaging a teenager.[19]


  1. ^ "Scotland's Finance Secretary suspended from SNP amid text scandal". Evening Standard. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Sim, Philip (6 February 2020). "Who is Derek Mackay?" – via
  3. ^ "'The Fixer': Derek Mackay talks budget". Holyrood Website. 4 October 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work". Scottish Government. Archived from the original on 15 January 2020.
  5. ^ a b Johnson, Simon (6 February 2020). "Derek Mackay: The rise and fall of the man touted to be Scotland's next First Minister" – via required)
  6. ^ "Nicola Sturgeon announces new Scottish cabinet". BBC News. 21 November 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Carrell, Severin (7 February 2020). "Sturgeon's office 'tried to stop publication of Mackay schoolboy story'". The Guardian.
  8. ^ a b "Derek Mackay's downfall: How the story unfolded". BBC News. 7 February 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Derek Mackay: Scottish finance secretary quits amid messages claims". BBC News. 6 February 2020.
  10. ^ Baynes, Chris (6 February 2020). "Scotland's finance secretary quits after allegedly sending hundreds of messages to 16-year-old boy". The Independent.
  11. ^ Rodger, Hannah (7 February 2020). "Nicola Sturgeon 'banned shamed Derek Mackay from drinking at SNP conferences'". The Herald (Glasgow).
  12. ^ Green, Chris (7 February 2020). "Derek Mackay: Fresh allegations emerge about the former Finance Secretary's online behaviour". I (newspaper).
  13. ^ "Police speak to boy sent messages by Derek Mackay". 8 February 2020 – via
  14. ^
  15. ^ "SNP minister announces he is gay after separating from wife". The Herald. 12 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Coming out was the right thing to do, Scottish minister reveals heartache over toughest decision of his life". Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd. 12 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Derek Mackay - Personal Information".
  18. ^ "Derek Mackay - Register of Interests".
  19. ^ "Derek Mackay axed from Boys' Brigade after texting teen". STV News. 13 February 2020.

External links