Mark Ballard

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Mark Ballard
Mark B smart smile.jpg
Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh
In office
16 February 2006 – 12 February 2009
Preceded by Tam Dalyell
Succeeded by Iain Macwhirter
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Lothians
In office
1 May 2003 – 3 May 2007
Preceded by David McLetchie
Succeeded by George Foulkes
Personal details
Born (1971-06-27) 27 June 1971 (age 47)
Leeds, England
Political party Scottish Green Party
Spouse(s) Heather Stacey
Alma mater University of Edinburgh

Mark Ballard (born 27 June 1971) is a former Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Lothians region between 2003 and 2007 representing the Scottish Green Party, was Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh between 2006 and 2009, and co-convener of the Edinburgh Green Party from 2007–10. He is now Head of Save the Children in Scotland[1] and Editor-in-Chief of progressive politics blog Bright Green.

Personal life[edit]

Ballard was born in Leeds, England on 27 June 1971. During his childhood he lived in Punjab, India (1973–1975) and Islamabad, Pakistan (1984–1985).[2] He married Heather Stacey on 28 September 2002 and has two children, Adam and Lucas. He attends the Portobello and Musselburgh Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.


He attended Lawnswood Comprehensive school in Leeds before going on to the University of Edinburgh, where he gained an MA (Hons) in Economic and Social History.[3] He is a life member of the Edinburgh University Union, part of the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA).[4] In February 2006 he was elected Rector of Edinburgh University (see below).

Career outside politics[edit]

Between 1994 and 1998 he worked for European Youth Forest Action (now European Youth For Action) in Edinburgh and Amsterdam. After this until 2001 he worked as editor of the journal Reforesting Scotland before setting up an environmental communications consultancy company that ran until 2003.[2] After the 2007 election, Ballard became head of communications at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, before moving to become Assistant Director of Barnardo's in Scotland, then Director of Strategy at Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland and is currently Head of Save the Children in Scotland

Political career[edit]

He joined the youth wing of the Labour Party when he was 15 and remained a member until 1991. At this point he became involved in the Scottish Green Party's student movement. He ran as a candidate for this party in the 1995 council elections, the 1999 Scottish Parliamentary election and a 2001 council by-election. He was first elected in the 2003 Holyrood election, as the second Green MSP in the Lothians.

He was a member of the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee[5] and was also substitute member of the Enterprise and Culture Committee.[3] He committed substantial time to promoting social enterprises and co-operatives, as a Green alternative to the current system.[6] He also used the position to call for sustainable procurement guidelines, support ethical investment campaigns, and make the case for Scottish utilities being in public ownership.

As the Green speaker on Transport, Mark Ballard supported campaigns against the Dalkeith by-pass and the M74, for the trams in Edinburgh and for a better and cheaper public transport system. As a Lothians MSP he helped raise awareness of community initiatives such as the campaign to resist a huge superstore development in Portobello, supporting the calls for congestion charging in Edinburgh, assisting universities wanting to make the switch to Fairtrade and opposing tuition fees for students. The latter in particular helped him win support amongst Edinburgh's student community.

Campaigning work[edit]

He has also been involved in direct action campaigning, most notably against British nuclear weapons on the River Clyde at Faslane, against the release of Genetically modified organisms and motorway construction through the group Earth First![citation needed]. He has been arrested at Faslane several times, as part of the CND 'Big Blockade', most recently in August 2004. He was involved in a long-running court case over the destruction of a field of rapeseed at the Roslin Institute near Dalkeith in 1999. [Although initially found guilty of "wilfully and recklessly" destroying plants belonging to Monsanto Company,[7] all charges were quashed due to a delay in the hearing of the appeal, which Mr Ballard claimed was because the Crown was unable to provide relevant evidence.[8]

He holds membership of a large number of organisations listed in his Register of Interest[4] as Friends of the Earth, Sustrans, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Democratic Left Scotland, Reforesting Scotland, Water of Leith Conservation Trust, Friends of Inverleith Park, SSPCA, Advocates for Animals and Scottish Education and Action for Development. Until 2005 he was also an unpaid director of UK charity Seeds for Change,[9] treasurer of the Scottish Environmental Festivals association and is on the editorial board of the Scottish Left Review, a bi-monthly cross-party journal of the Scottish left.

Rector of the University of Edinburgh[edit]

In February 2006 he stood for election as Rector the University of Edinburgh standing against MP Boris Johnson, pro-Palestine journalist John Pilger and former Scotsman editor Magnus Linklater. The election received a high level of publicity mostly due to Boris Johnson's candidature.

The election took place on the 15/16 February 2006, with a turn out of almost 8000. A system of Single Transferable Vote was used. In the final round Mark Ballard received 3,597 votes against Magnus Linklater's 3,052[10] and was elected.

He was formally installed on 9 June 2006 in a ceremony in the University's Old College. Present at this ceremony were the Chancellor of the University, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the University Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Timothy O'Shea, and Mark Ballard's predecessor as Rector, Labour MP Tam Dalyell.[11] In this capacity he continues to work on issues of concern to students and university staff, including playing a prominent role in the movement which led to the complete abolishing of student tuition fees in Scotland in 2008.[12]

He was succeeded as Rector in 2009 by journalist Iain Macwhirter, whose campaign drew on many of Ballard's supporters.

Academic offices
Preceded by
Tam Dalyell
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
Iain Macwhirter


  1. ^ "Save the Children appoints new head of Scotland". Retrieved 2017-11-10. 
  2. ^ a b "Biography". Mark Ballard. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ "Previous MSPs: Session 2 (2003-2007): Mark Ballard". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Peter McColl (Former Advisor to Mark Ballard) on Green economics[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "SCOTLAND | GM crop campaigners found guilty". BBC News. 15 January 2001. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "training and support". Seeds for Change. 24 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Scotland |Uni students choose Green rector". BBC News. 16 February 2006. 
  11. ^ "University Installs New Rector". University of Edinburgh. 9 June 2006. Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Journal » Edinburgh University Rector speaks in favour of free higher education". 26 February 2008. Archived from the original on 8 September 2008. 

External links[edit]

Articles by Mark Ballard[edit]