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Who’s who in the new Scottish Government Cabinet?

Following the 2021 Scottish Election in May, re-elected First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP announced her new cabinet. Read on for a quick round up of the important ministerial portfolios that might matter to the international development community in Scotland and beyond.

First off, there was a familiar face re-joining the Scottish Government, with Jenny Gilruth MSP appointed as Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development. Ms Gilruth added culture to her ministerial portfolio, but maintains her international development and Europe briefs that she took on last year in February 2020.

Newly elected Angus Robertson MSP, former MP and SNP leader in the House of Commons, becomes Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture.

Another notable appointment includes Michael Matheson MSP who becomes Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport. This could be of interest to many members as Mr Matheson will be responsible for COP26, sustainable development and broader climate policy.

Mr Matheson’s responsibility over sustainable development is also important as we hope he will be leading the development of another SNP manifesto commitment to bring forward a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development (Scotland) Bill – one of the flagship policy recommendations put forward by Alliance members ahead of the election.

Supporting Mr Matheson will be Mairi McAllan MSP, who was appointed as the Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform. She will be in charge of the Climate Justice Fund which is set to be doubled according to the SNP’s Manifesto commitments.

Alliance Deputy CEO, Lewis Ryder-Jones said:

‘We warmly welcome the Cabinet Secretaries and Minister to their new roles. We are particularly happy to see Ms Gilruth maintain responsibility over international development, and congratulate her on the addition of culture to her ministerial portfolio. We look forward to working closely with her once again in the years ahead, building upon the work started last year with the Scottish Government’s International development programme review.

“We were also extremely happy to see many of our member’s policy recommendations included in the SNP’s election manifesto and we look forward to supporting the Cabinet Secretaries and the Ministers make these a reality over the course of this parliament.”

Who is Jenny Gilruth MSP?

Brought up and educated in Fife, Jenny Gilruth is a graduate of Glasgow University, where she studied Politics and Sociology, and of Strathclyde University where she studied for her Postgraduate in Secondary Education (Modern Studies).

Prior to being elected in 2016, Jenny worked for over a decade in education, most recently as a Head of Department in a Fife secondary school.

Prior to that, Jenny worked at Education Scotland as NQ lead for Modern Studies, supporting the development of the new qualifications and also as a Modern Studies teacher.

Ms Gilruth was elected to represent the Mid Fife and Glenrothes Constituency at the 2016 election and was previously the Minister for Europe and International Development

Who is Angus Robertson MSP?

After a distinguished career in international journalism, Mr Robertson worked in the Scottish Parliament as an expert advisor before being elected to the House of Commons in June 2001 where he served for 16 years. He was a member of the European Scrutiny Committee 2001-2010, and served as the SNP spokesperson on defence and international relations. 

In May 2007, he became SNP leader in the House of Commons. He was elected to the Scottish Parliament in May 2021 to represent Edinburgh Central.

Who is Michael Matheson?

Mr Matheson was born in Glasgow in 1970 and educated at St John Bosco Secondary School. He went on to study at Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh, where he obtained a BSc in Occupational Therapy. He also holds a BA and a Diploma in Applied Social Sciences from the Open University.

Prior to becoming an MSP, Mr Matheson practised as a Community Occupational Therapist with Stirling Council, Central Regional Council, and Highland Regional Council.

He was elected as the MSP for Falkirk West following the May 2007 elections. Prior to this, he was a Regional MSP for Central Scotland from 1999 to 2007. Before being appointed Minister for Public Health and Sport, Mr Matheson was Vice Convenor of the European and External Relations Committee. He also sat on the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, and previously served on the Justice and Enterprise and Culture Committees. Michael Matheson was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Justice in November 2014 and reappointed in May 2016. He was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity in June 2018.

Who is Mairi McAllan?

Previously a special adviser to the First Minister on environment, climate change, land reform and renewable energy policy, Mairi McAllan was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2021 to represent the constituency of Clydesdale.

Ms McAllan grew up and was educated in the town of Biggar in South Lanarkshire, before studying Scots law at the University of Glasgow. She went on to co-found the human rights organisation RebLaw Scotland. 

Details of the full Scottish Government Cabinet and Ministers are available here.

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