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MSP leaves Holyrood

Gray to step down ahead of next year’s election

Iain Gray: genuinely wants to spend more time with his family

Scottish Labour’s education spokesman and former party leader Iain Gray will leave the Holyrood parliament ahead of next year’s election.

The East Lothian MSP said he “really, genuinely” wanted to spend more time with his family.

Mr Gray, was among the first intake to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and served under First Ministers Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell.

He served as social justice minister then as minister for enterprise and transport.

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He succeeded Wendy Alexander as Scottish Labour leader in 2008, but stepped down following the party’s poor performance in the 2011 elections.

He returned briefly as caretaker party leader in 2015 after Jim Murphy’s resignation.

Mr Gray will join a number of prominent MSPs including Mike Russell, Aileen Campbell and Ruth Davidson who have announced their departure from Holyrood.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Mr Gray said the decision to stand down “is not an easy one, and was made even harder by the incredibly difficult circumstances we have all faced over the last three months.”

He added: “However, I will be 64 next year, almost 69 by the end of the next parliament and after more than 20 years at the frontline of Scottish politics, next year is the right time for me to step aside and hand over to someone else to represent East Lothian’s interests.

“I really, genuinely do want to spend more time with my family, especially my wife Gil who has supported me unstintingly through all the ups and downs of political life, and the seven fantastic grandchildren with whom I am now blessed.”

He said that despite being in Opposition he campaigned successfully against the attempt to impose an unwanted energy park on the former Cockenzie power station site, defeated proposals to close the police station in Tranent, led the campaign against the closure of Haddington’s Sheriff and JP Court and helped secure improvements in local public transport.

“I also fought to make the Scottish Government deliver our new Community Hospital, a project which is now almost complete. I campaigned for East Lothian to get its fair share of central funding for schools and other vital local services, and opposed the creeping centralisation of planning decisions which has seen so many unwanted developments imposed on the county.

“However, I am most proud of having helped many thousands of constituents with a diverse range of problems and queries during my time as MSP. While it is not always possible to achieve the outcome a constituent wants, I have always done my very best to help them with their enquiries.”

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