Sarah Boyack

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Sarah Boyack
Official portrait, 2019
Minister for Transport and Planning[a]
In office
19 May 1999 – 27 November 2001
First Minister
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byWendy Alexander
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Lothian
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
Assumed office
15 July 2019
Preceded byKezia Dugdale[b]
In office
5 May 2011 – 23 March 2016
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Edinburgh Central
In office
6 May 1999 – 5 May 2011
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byMarco Biagi
Scottish Labour portfolios
2014–2016Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment
2019–2021Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government
2021–presentShadow Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Personal details
Sarah Herriot Boyack

(1961-05-16) 16 May 1961 (age 62)
Glasgow, Scotland
Political partyScottish Labour
Andrew Walters
(m. 2000; div. 2003)
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
Heriot-Watt University
ProfessionTown planner

Sarah Herriot Boyack (born 16 May 1961) is a Scottish Labour politician who has served as a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Lothian region since 2019, and previously from 2011 to 2016. She formerly represented the Edinburgh Central constituency from 1999 to 2011.

Early life and career[edit]

Boyack was born in May 1961 in Glasgow and brought up in Edinburgh.[1][2] Her father, Jim Boyack, was an important figure in the Labour Party and the campaign for Scottish devolution.[3] She was educated at the state comprehensive Royal High School, Edinburgh, where she was one of the first female pupils.[2]

Starting in 1979, Boyack studied Modern History and Politics at the University of Glasgow, graduating with a Scottish MA Honours degree.[4] She became active in the Labour club, where she was a protégé of Margaret Curran. She was chair of the Labour club from 1981 until 1982, and chair of the National Organisation of Labour Students from 1985 until 1986. During her time at Glasgow, she was involved in supporting the twinning with Bir Zeit University in the West Bank. After graduating, she gained a Diploma in Town and Country Planning at Heriot-Watt University.[4]

Boyack worked as a town planner in the London Borough of Brent then as a strategic planner in Central Regional Council in Stirling.[5] She then became a lecturer at the School of Planning and Housing at Heriot-Watt University and was Convener of the Scottish Branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 1997.[6]

Political career[edit]

Member of the Scottish Parliament: 1999–2016[edit]

Boyack was elected to the new Scottish Parliament in the 1999 election for the Edinburgh Central constituency. She was Minister for Transport and the Environment in the Scottish Executive from 1999 until 2000. Then, she was Minister for Transport and Planning from 2000 until 2001, during which time she introduced one of Scottish Labour's flagship policies of free bus travel for people over 60 and disabled people.[2]

Re-elected for her constituency in the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, Boyack was elected by MSPs as Convener of the Scottish Parliament Environment and Rural Development Committee in June 2003. In this role, she received the RSPB Goldcrest Award in November 2004 for the most outstanding contribution to the development of environmental policy in Scotland since devolution.[7] Later, in December 2005, she was named the Scottish Renewables Best Politician.[2] She stood down from the committee in January 2007, when she returned to the Scottish Executive as Deputy Minister for the Environment and Rural Development.[8]

Boyack lost her Edinburgh Central constituency seat in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election to Marco Biagi of the Scottish National Party (SNP). However, she was elected on the Lothian regional list as one of seven additional members. Following a landslide victory by the SNP in the election, Boyack co-chaired a review of the Labour Party in Scotland with Jim Murphy, commissioned by Ed Miliband in May 2011 and which reported back in Autumn of that year.[9][10]

On 28 October 2014, Boyack declared she would stand in the upcoming election to become the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.[3][11] She came third to Jim Murphy and Neil Findlay with 9.24% of the vote.[12]

She served as a member of the Parliament's Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee during its scrutiny of the Land Reform Bill 2015. [13]

Outside the Scottish Parliament: 2016–2019[edit]

Boyack again contested the Edinburgh Central seat in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, but was defeated by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who stood for the same constituency. Boyack was also placed third on the Lothian regional list of Labour candidates behind Kezia Dugdale and Neil Findlay, but did not return to Holyrood following the election since Labour won only two list seats.[14][15]

In February 2017, Boyack was appointed as Head of Public Affairs at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, the membership body for social housing providers in Scotland.[16]

Return following Kezia Dugdale's resignation: 2019–present[edit]

On 30 April 2019, it was announced Boyack would return to the Scottish Parliament as a list MSP, following Kezia Dugdale's decision to vacate her seat in the summer. As an unsuccessful Labour candidate on the Lothian regional list in 2016, Boyack was the next person on the list if a seat was vacated.[17] In September 2019, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard appointed her as Scottish Labour Spokesperson for Local Government.[18]

Boyack nominated Anas Sarwar in the 2021 Scottish Labour leadership election.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Boyack married former long-term partner Andrew Walters in December 2000. They had planned to marry in the October but postponed the wedding due to the death of Donald Dewar. The couple divorced in 2003 and they had no children together.[20]


  1. ^ Transport and the Environment (1999–2000)
  2. ^ Normally, regional MSPs do not have individual predecessors and successors. However, Dugdale retired her seat during a sitting parliament so was succeeded by Boyack.


  1. ^ "Sarah Herriot BOYACK – Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Christine Richard (22 May 2008). "Sarah Boyack's glass is not just half full – it's positively fizzing!". Lothian Life. Archived from the original on 21 November 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Profile: Sarah Boyack, Scottish Labour leadership candidate". BBC. 4 November 2014. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Sarah Boyack – Personal Information". Scottish Parliament. Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  5. ^ Kate Shannon (March 2012). "A new brief puts the focus on spending prioities". Holyrood Magazine Supplement. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  6. ^ "About Sarah | Sarah Boyack". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Centenary awards – The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds". Archived from the original on 1 November 2005. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  8. ^ "New Communities Minister". 9 January 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  9. ^ Wintour, Patrick (11 May 2011). "Ed Miliband orders review of Scottish Labour party". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Rivals braced for Labour leadership race". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Scottish Labour leadership: MSP Sarah Boyack is first candidate to stand". BBC. 28 October 2014. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  12. ^ "MP Jim Murphy named Scottish Labour leader". BBC. 13 December 2014. Archived from the original on 13 December 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  13. ^ Gibson, Rob (2020), Reclaiming Our Land, Highland Heritage Educational Trust, p. 219, ISBN 9781527281813
  14. ^ McPherson, Gareth (6 May 2016). "Holyrood no more — eight former MSPs who will be looking for new jobs". The Courier. D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  15. ^ Swanson, Ian (6 May 2016). "Holyrood 2016: Lothian list MSPs in full". Edinburgh Evening News. Johnston Press. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Former Labour MSP appointed as head of public affairs at SFHA". Holyrood Magazine. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Sarah Boyack to return to Holyrood as Labour MSP". BBC News. BBC. 30 April 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Scottish Labour reshuffle as Sarah Boyack returns to frontline politics". Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Scottish Leadership Election 2021 – Nominations". Scottish Labour. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Boyack separates from husband". The Scotsman. 21 June 2003. Retrieved 14 March 2020.[dead link]

External links[edit]

Scottish Parliament
New parliament
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Edinburgh Central
Succeeded by
Political offices
New office Minister for Transport and the Environment
Office abolished
Minister for Transport and Planning
Succeeded byas Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning
Preceded by Convener of the Scottish Parliament Environment and Rural Development Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Minister for the Environment and Rural Development
Succeeded byas Minister for Environment