EXCLUSIVE: Tricia Marwick to stand for Presiding Officer

You heard it here first.  Tomorrow, Tricia Marwick, the SNP MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes, will announce her candidacy to be the next Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.

And it’s such a good idea, the burd is only sorry she did not think of it before.

Tricia Marwick has been an MSP since 1999, elected first on the list, securing her re-election in 2003 and winning her constituency, the seat she has lived in all her life, in the SNP’s first historic election victory in 2007.  She was returned to Holyrood last week with a thumping majority of 4,188, recording a swing from Labour to the SNP of 3.43%.

During the first four years of the Scottish Parliament, she served as the SNP representative on the business bureau, working across the parties but defending her group’s corner to influence the business of the day and the week.  More recently, she has served on the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), again working with representatives from the other parliamentary groups to oversee the smooth running of the Parliament itself.

Few MSPs have committed themselves so fully to working not only for her party’s interests, but also the Parliament’s.  Few MSPs have the level of experience or expertise she has acquired over the years to understanding how the Parliament works and importantly, to acknowledging that it is in Scotland’s interests for it to work, and work well.

Moreover, she does not shy away from the tough gig.  Being the SNP’s business manager during the early years was no easy task.  The Parliamentary Group had a smattering of experienced parliamentarians but its ranks were mostly staffed by rookies.  They needed to be guided, cajoled, educated and persuaded.  That first term was also when Alex Salmond stood down as leader, creating a short term gaping hole in leadership.  Tricia’s ability to work closely with her colleagues in her own group and to engage constructively with the other parties ensured that the transition from Salmond to Swinney was as seamless as possible.

It is her years, though, in the SPCB that put her candidacy way ahead of any other contenders.  She has worked with and alongside senior management in the Parliament to ensure that it has the staff, property and services it needs to run efficiently and effectively.  The objective is to ensure that all MSPs are supported to carry out their democratic responsibilities and duties.  It involves everything from making sure Holyrood is secure, has enough money to function, pays its bills on time, has the right staff in the right place, and can accommodate all its MSPs, and feed and water them too.

Not the most exciting gig in the firmament but an essential one.  And Tricia has carried out her duties in this regard with the utmost diligence and attention.  Without MSPs like Tricia Marwick, Holyrood would simply grind to a halt.

The very fact that she has spent many of her twelve years in Holyrood engaging with colleagues from other parliamentary groups and reaching out across the party divide also stand in her good stead.  What you see with Tricia is what you get.  She doesn’t play games and is pretty straight up and down.  She can compromise when needed, see a problem from all sides and has a keen intellect and eye for detail.  A Presiding Officer needs to be trusted to be as good as their word and she would deliver that and more.

Mindful of the wider role that the Parliament plays in Scotland’s civic life, she would deliver on that with aplomb, though anyone expecting frills and fancies might be a little disappointed.

You may have noticed that she is a woman  – and that, to me, is an essential criterion this time round, for it is time to send a clear message around Scotland about the importance and talent of our female parliamentarians by putting one on the centre stage of Scottish political life.  She has the experience, the knowledge and the expertise.  The fact that she is in the SNP is, to my mind, an advantage.  Forget *buggin’s turn* – Labour had their chance in 2007 when it actually was their *turn* and refused it because they did not want to give up an MSP when the parliamentary arithmetic was tight.

Moreover, I would trust Tricia Marwick to rein in Alex Salmond if she ever thought what he was proposing was unconstitutional or agin the Parliament’s interests.  Few, other than those who are comfortable in their own skin and in their own place in the SNP, are actually capable of keeping the First Minister and the SNP Government in check.  She would be hardworking and totally committed to and focused on ensuring that the Parliament runs as it should, and that its wider role in our lives is fulfilled.  She would not allow anything to bring it into disrepute.

Make no mistake, Tricia is a Nationalist who has been committed to the cause of independence all her life.  But she is no one’s fool and knows that the one thing that would damage the possibility of making that happen would be to allow narrow party interest to ride roughshod over the wider democratic commonweal.

Tricia Marwick MSP would be a very fine, firm but fair Presiding Officer indeed.   In the burdz humble opinion, there is no better candidate.

[UPDATE – The vote for Presiding Officer is a free one ie MSPs get to decide for themselves who to vote for.  But that doesn’t mean to say they can’t be lobbied!  If you know your MSP well and like me, think Tricia is the woman for the job, drop them a wee email saying so.  And this isn’t just aimed at Nats who read this blog – MSPs vote across the parties for PO.]


14 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: Tricia Marwick to stand for Presiding Officer

  1. Pingback: More wishes for the Holyrood fairy « A Burdz Eye View

  2. Hi Burd,

    I am no lawyer, but surely common sense dictates that the UK Parliament will not stand in the way of a Scottish Referendum (If you were able to look at the date of this comment you would see that it is written after DC has announced just this.) if a democratically elected Scottish parliament proposes one unless, they are prepared to endure international opprobrium.

    While I am sure loveandgarbage is an excellent lawyer (I really mean that, and hope it doesn’t sound sarcastic), and I find some of his posts absolutely brilliant, I was staggered at his initial proposition that such a referendum would have been unconstitutional. Sometimes lawyers, as a profession, become immersed in detail to the detriment of the bigger picture and the bottom line is that if Westminster resorts to demonstrably unfair constitutional moves to suppress the democratically expressed move towards Independence they run the risk of the expression of that desire by “other means”, and surely nobody wants that. That is not to say that they will engage in every dirty trick to stop the occurrence of Independence by any other means (and I am sure that they will), especially through their control of the media in Scotland.


  3. Everybody is punting numerous names but nobody has included
    T Sheridan, would have to do it from goal for a few months, but could use G Galloway as a sub, unelected but big enough ego to do it from anywhere, can even lick a saucer. Enough rubbish.
    Our new majority Government should aspire for the highest possible standards of even handedness, governance and probity.
    One person stands above all, BRUCE CRAWFORD – go for it Bruce.

  4. Ok. Without dismissing the capabailities of those who have already thrown their hats into the ring (including Hugh Henry, I understand), what about Annabel for PO? After all, she said she wanted to keep Alex in check – and that could be the only way!

  5. I think, on balance, it is better that the PO is not SNP – especially as they have a majority (unprecedented in Scot Parlt)and there may be some important constitutional issues to deal with.


  6. I stood as the Scottish Conservative candidate against Tricia last week.

    She and her team conducted themselves exceptionally well during the campaign and she’s represented her constituents superbly since 1999.

    She would make a tremendous presiding officer and I hope she’s successful in getting the post.

    • Allan, that is a lovely and generous endorsement and I’m sure she will be delighted to receive it. I’ll let her know about your comment! Not sure she actually reads my blog… what can I say?!

  7. Sounds like she would be an excellent candidate. I have a felling that with a single party majority government, we are going to need a strong PO who can stand up for parliament. Sounds like Tricia could do that.

  8. Tricia Marwick is a lovely, intelligent, non tribal politician. I like her a lot & would prefer her to Christine Grahame. What about Patricia Ferguson though? I am with you on wanting to see a woman in this role.

    • Hi Caron, I think Patricia would have a good claim but I’m not sure of her mettle. Do you know her better? Genuinely interested to hear your thoughts.

  9. I bow to your better knowledge, and I hope she will make a good presiding officer. Holyrood has actually been blessed with them, I think – compared to Westminster.

    One question – if her legal advice was that a bill on a referendum was not competent (not that I think Alex would put forward a non-competant bill), would she rule it in or out, in your opinion?

    I ask, because it seems to be gaining traction that the PO has to be an SNP member so that such a bill could be ruled in regardless of the legal advice. Which would bring the parliament into disrepute. (By the way, if a Labour MSP gained the position, I would also expect them to rule a bill IN if that were the advice, and not to act in a partisan way.)

    • I don’t support that argument coming from other SNP quarters. My rationale is someone who would not allow that to happen. If it came from a non SNP PO it would allow the SNP government to claim party or Unionist bias. But I believe someone like Tricia wouldn’t rule something incompetent as competent. She would see how that would be caught out and damage what she believes in most. It’s hard to explain but folk like Tricia just wouldn’t allow her long term goal to be compromised by short term gain.

      In any event, Tories have said they would allow Scotland Act to be amended to get rid of any technical obstacles. Sensible thing to do and removes a possible source of conflict.

      So it’s a non argument in some respects. I’m more concerned at some other, more cavalier actions that could cause problems – as yet unspecified admittedly – and that needs someone strong and who has always been committed to ensuring the Parliament works well to champion its cause without fear or favour.

      Tricia’s the woman, actually the one MSP who could do that.

      • The Tories didn’t say that about the Scotland Act. The UK government said it would not intervene. That is a meaningless statement as it does not remove the onus from the Presiding officer to determine which bills are within the competence of the Scottish Parliament, nor would it prevent any individual from raising the issue subsequently if the presiding officer allows a bill in that is ultra vires.

        I am somewhat bemused that an argument I raised a long time ago to derision from many is now being taken seriously about competence. Any lawyer who had given any thought to the issue knew there was a problem. The SNP cabinet knew there was a problem. But the issue was never raised before the election by any journalist to ask what would happen – sadly typical from the Scottish media pack that one issue with direct practical consequences for a key policy was not explored until the cries of astonishment after the vote. A cynic would suggest that the SNP leadership knew about the problem and intended to make use of it just before the next election by bemoaning the rejection of the bill by unionist forces – but an absolute majority makes that position untenable.

      • I didn’t deride you Love and Garbage – not ever! I’m sure David Mundell said something slightly different but we are dancing on the heads of pins here. And you are correct in saying the issue is the decision of the PO.

        However, Scotland bill is still at Westminster and opportunity to remove any legal technical obstacles to a referendum remains. All hell of course will break loose if such an amendment is rejected.

        Politics and the law are uneasy bedfellows but bedfellows they are. Sometimes to our benefit, sometimes not.

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