John Barrett (Scottish politician)

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John Barrett
John Barrett at Westminste.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Edinburgh West
In office
8 June 2001 – 12 April 2010
Preceded by Donald Gorrie
Succeeded by Michael Crockart
Personal details
Born (1954-02-11) 11 February 1954 (age 63)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Political party Liberal Democrat
Spouse(s) Carol
Children 1 daughter
Alma mater Napier Polytechnic

John Andrew Barrett (born 11 February 1954) is a Scottish Liberal Democrat politician and the former Member of Parliament (MP) for Edinburgh West.

Background and early career[edit]

Born in Hobart, Tasmania,

John Barrett was educated at the Forrester High School in Edinburgh, Telford College and Napier Polytechnic (Now Napier University). He also attended Cornell University (New York State) summer sessions in Development Communication and returned to Cornell as a teaching assistant.

He joined the Scottish Liberal Party in 1980 and was the election agent for Veronica Crerar when she won the South East Corstorphine ward in 1984. He was also the election agent at council and parliamentary elections for Donald Gorrie. John Barrett was elected to the City of Edinburgh Council for South-East Corstorphine ward in 1995 and was elected Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Group from 1995 to 2001. He was the election agent for Donald Gorrie in Edinburgh West when the Liberal Democrats won the seat from the Conservatives at the 1997 General Election.

He married Carol [1], a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art and well known wildlife artist. They have one daughter, Sarah, and two granddaughters, Maria and Hope. They live in Edinburgh.

Parliamentary career[edit]

In 2000, Donald Gorrie decided to stand down from House of Commons to concentrate on the Scottish Parliament. John Barrett won the nomination to defend Edinburgh West at the 2001 general election, which he did by 7,589 votes. He made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 13 July 2001.[1] John Barrett sat on the International Development Select Committee between 2001 and 2007,[2] and was made a party spokesman on International Development in 2003. He was promoted by Charles Kennedy in December 2005 to Shadow Minister of State for Scotland, while continuing as a spokesman on International Development. Since 2008 he has also been a spokesman on Work and Pensions with a focus on disability issues.

Barrett has fought prominent campaigns; for Trade Justice, against Post Office closures, opposing the war in Iraq, supporting renewables and opposing nuclear power, against the replacement of Trident and for a number of animal welfare issues alongside the Scottish SPCA, including one to ban the trade in cat and dog fur.[3][4]

Following the boundary changes in 2005, Edinburgh West now included the areas of Stenhouse and Murrayfield. He was re-elected in the United Kingdom general election, 2005, with a majority of 13,600 over the nearest (Conservative) candidate, making Edinburgh West the second safest Lib-Dem seat in the UK, a seat which the Lib Dems had won for the first time only eight years before.

Barrett is a founding member of the Beveridge Group within the Liberal Democrats.[5] He is also the President of the Scottish Liberal Club, serves on the Scottish and Federal Liberal Democrat national executive committees, is leading the party's legacy programme in Scotland and continues to campaign for the Liberal Democrats.

Outside politics he is a director of ABC Productions and works with Atlantic Screen Music. He is involved with a number of charities working in the developing world – including India 800 and as an ambassador for CBM UK. He trains parliamentarians in emerging democracies with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, is on the Advisory Council of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and is a member of the Royal Bank of Scotland's Microfinance Advisory Board.

On 25 July 2009, Barrett announced that he would be standing down from Parliament at the 2010 general election.[6] In only two seats in the UK, Edinburgh West and Cambridge, were retiring Liberal Democrats able to successfully see their own party hold on to their seats. He was succeeded as MP for Edinburgh West by fellow Liberal Democrat Mike Crockart.[7]

Since leaving Parliament[edit]

In an article in January 2014, Barrett condemned the policies of the Liberal Democrats in coalition with the Tories at Westminster, saying "No wonder the public in Scotland drifted away in large numbers from the party at both the last set of Holyrood and council elections."[8]

In August 2014, he announced his intention to support Scottish independence in the Scottish Independence Referendum.[9]


  1. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (13 July 2001). "Hansard – 13 July 2001, col.1082". Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "Guardian Politics: Ask Aristotle – John Barrett MP". London: Archived from the original on 13 October 2008. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "Thousands back animal fur ban". BBC News. 2 December 2003. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Scotsman – City MP calls for UK ban on dog and cat fur trade". Edinburgh: 3 December 2005. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  5. ^ About usThe Beveridge Group 28 October 2007
  6. ^ "Lib Dems' Barrett to quit as MP". BBC News Online. 25 July 2009. 
  7. ^ BBC | Edinburgh West – General Election 2010 result
  8. ^ ″John Barrett goes his own way on the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Independence″Liberal England. 11 January 2014.
  9. ^ ″Former Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett says he′s voting Yes in the Independence Referendum″Liberal Democrat Voice. 21 August 2014.

External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Donald Gorrie
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West
Succeeded by
Michael Crockart