Joan McAlpine

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Joan McAlpine

McAlpine in 2013
Parliamentary Liaison Officer
to the First Minister of Scotland
In office
May 2011 – September 2015
Serving with Humza Yousaf
Preceded byAlasdair Allan
Succeeded byJim Eadie, Kevin Stewart
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for South Scotland
Assumed office
5 May 2011
Personal details
Born (1962-01-28) 28 January 1962 (age 58)[1]
Gourock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Political partyScottish National Party
Spouse(s)Pat Kane (divorced)
Children2 daughters (Grace, Eleanor)
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
City University London Edit this at Wikidata

Joan McAlpine MSP (born 28 January 1962) is a Scottish journalist and Scottish National Party politician who has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the South Scotland region since 2011. She has a newspaper column in The Daily Record and is author of the blog Go Lassie Go, which won a Scottish media blog award.


McAlpine was born in Gourock, Renfrewshire, and attended St Ninian's Primary School in Gourock and St Columba's High School in Greenock. She has an MA (Hons) in Scottish History and Economic History from University of Glasgow.[2] She also has a Postgraduate Diploma in newspaper journalism from City University in London. McAlpine was formerly married to the writer and musician Pat Kane, with whom she has two daughters.[3][4]

McAlpine began her career at the Greenock Telegraph in 1987. She went on to work for The Scotsman and The Sunday Times, where she won the Scottish Journalist of the Year award in 1999. In 2000 she was appointed editor of The Sunday Times Scotland and the following year became deputy editor of The Herald; the first woman to hold the Herald post,[5] although not the first Scottish female newspaper editor. She also wrote a weekly column for The Scotsman.[6] Her blog, Go Lassie Go, was voted Scotland's top media blog in 2010.[7][8]

In 1994 McAlpine co-authored a book on the history of the anti-poll tax campaign, A Time to Rage, with the political activist Tommy Sheridan.[9] In 1999 a programme Border Television written and presented by McAlpine, Crossing the Border, received a commendation but no award at the New York Television Festival.[5]

Member of the Scottish Parliament[edit]

McAlpine was elected as a list MSP for the South of Scotland region in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election. She has been a media adviser for the SNP.[10] McAlpine wrote speeches for the then First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond,[11][12] and served as his Parliamentary Liaison Officer.

In November 2011 a member of McAlpine's staff, Gail Lythgoe, was found to have emailed a women's equality group, alleging that the Labour politician Ian Davidson has a history of bullying women and called on them to demonstrate against him whilst asking them not to reveal SNP involvement in the demonstration's instigation.[13][14] The email was later leaked and Lythgoe publicly apologised for making unsubstantiated allegations, with the Labour Party stating that this was a result of an SNP "dirty tricks campaign" against Davidson and calling for an investigation.[13]

In January 2012, McAlpine stated that individuals who criticised the policies of the SNP were 'anti-Scottish', provoking widespread condemnation from other political parties.[15] In March 2012, McAlpine compared Scotlands' position in the UK with a woman in an abusive marriage with a domineering man and stated that rival political parties were behaving in a sexist and misogynistic manner.[15]

In May 2012, McAlpine was reprimanded by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament for failure to appear for Ministerial Questions to be asked a question which she had tabled in the Scottish Parliament, she was eating dinner in a restaurant.[16][17]

Views on sex and gender[edit]

In February 2019, McAlpine tweeted explaining her belief that the Scottish census should record biological sex in order to monitor sex discrimination, and questioning the influence of key stakeholders in the Scottish government's consultation process.[18] This led to her receiving online abuse including threats from some claiming to be SNP members that they would attempt to deselect her as a MSP, despite the fact that no deselection mechanism exists within the SNP.[19] Her claims about the funding and role of several women's organisations led to the publication of an open-letter rebuking her claims, signed by organisations including Engender Scotland, Equate Scotland and Close the Gap.[20] In May 2019, McAlpine's invitation for radical feminist Meghan Murphy to speak at Holyrood caused further controversy as a result of Murphy's perceived trans-exclusionary views.[21] Writing in The Spectator, Stephen Daisley described McAlpine as "gender critical" and described the negative reaction she had received for her stance.[20]

In 2019, the Scottish Parliament debated the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill regarding a proposal from National Records of Scotland (NRS) to include a non-binary sex option on the 2021 UK census in Scotland.[22] Prior to the debate, the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee, of which McAlpine was the convenor, published a "highly critical" report, decrying the lack of consultation with women's groups and stating that this had led the NRS to conflate sex and gender identity.[22] Speaking during the Stage 3 debate of the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, McAlpine quoted Simone de Beauvoir, criticising the fact that "Stonewall's trans umbrella includes people with no medical treatment who refute the contention that they have a psychological condition" and stated that she "reject[s] the concept of innate gender identity".[23] Following the debate, McApline wrote an article published in The Times newspaper, stating that she believed women would be erased "as a biological sex class" if a non-binary sex option were to be included.[24] McAlpine did, however, vote in favour of the bill, which was passed unanimously.[22][25]

In November 2019, it was announced that McAlpine and Labour MSP Jenny Marra would be hosting an event on behalf of the "Women's Human Rights Campaign", an international campaign that launched in New York in March 2019. The Campaign's states that its focus is on "the importance of keeping the current sex based definition of woman". The announcement was met with criticism from some feminist and LGBT groups, including Engender, The Equality Network and the Scottish Trans Alliance, who expressed their concerns that the Campaign's aims would breach Human Rights law, and in particular the rights of transgender people. However, a spokeswoman for the Campaign reiterated that their aim was to "re-affirm women’s sex-based rights, as set out in international human rights documents".[26]


  1. ^ "Democracy Live | Your representatives | Joan McAlpine". BBC News. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  2. ^ "Joan McAlpine MSP". Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  3. ^ "PAT KANE". PAT KANE. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  4. ^ Morrison, Jenny (29 October 2017). "Singer on growing up with a famous dad and joining him on new single". Daily Record. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Joan McAlpine". Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  6. ^ "McAlpine to return to Sunday Times Scotland". allmediascotland. 26 October 2006. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Top journalist's / mainstream media blogs". Scottish Roundup. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  8. ^ "McAlpine scoops Scottish Media Blog Award". allmediascotland. 11 February 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  9. ^ "A Time to Rage (0748661743) by Tommy Sheridan, Joan Macalpine @". Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Big Things Expected for McAlpine". allmediascotland. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  11. ^ "George Kerevan: The seal of cabinet approval is still to be validated". The Scotsman. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  12. ^ "The advisers: Team who plotted stunning victory". The Scotsman. 7 May 2011. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011.
  13. ^ a b Robbie Dinwoodi e (1 November 2011). "First Minister's aide linked to dirty tricks allegations". Herald Scotland.
  14. ^ "Ian Davidson row email 'went too far'". BBC News Online. 1 November 2011.
  15. ^ a b Brian Currie (7 March 2012). "McAlpine criticised for saying UK is like an abusive marriage". Herald Scotland.
  16. ^ "MSPs warned by presiding officer over bad behaviour". BBC News Online. 3 September 2012.
  17. ^ Tom Peterkin (17 May 2012). "Joan McAlpine forced to eat humble pie for show of discourtesy". The Scotsman. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015.
  18. ^ Joan McAlpine [@JoanMcAlpine] (28 February 2019). "Thread: Re Sex and the Census. For many individuals identity is very personal and important and the 2021 census will allow those people to express a trans identity for the first time. All good so far..." (Tweet). Retrieved 15 June 2019 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ Gina Davidson (31 March 2019). "Joan McAlpine receives online abuse for remarks on sex and gender". The Scotsman. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  20. ^ a b Stephen Daisley (7 May 2019). "An SNP politician's lonely fight in the gender identity debate". The Spectator. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  21. ^ Mark McLaughlin (4 May 2019). "'Transphobic' blogger Meghan Murphy invited to Holyrood". The Times. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  22. ^ a b c Libby Brooks (13 June 2019). "Holyrood backs new census questions on transgender identity". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  23. ^ "Joan McAlpine speaking during the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 debate". TheyWorkForYou. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  24. ^ McApline, Joan (13 June 2019). "Trans questions on the Scottish census must not be at women's expense". The Times. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Result of the division on the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 debate". TheyWorkForYou. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  26. ^ Davidson, Emma (6 November 2019). "Women's rights declaration sparks accusations of discrimination". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 December 2019.

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