By Richard Wood
The term dual mandate refers to the situation where a politician holds two elected positions. For example, this can include an MP that is also an MSP or an MSP who is also a councillor. Although unelected, members of the House of Lords with additional mandates are also included in this categorisation.
Dual mandates are ultimately unfair on constituents. Citizens in a democracy deserve full-time representatives not part-timers. The practice has been banned for Members of the European Parliament, as well as for Members of the Welsh Parliament and for the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Upgrade Holyrood has outlined the main reasons against dual mandates here.
Dual mandate holders have existed in every Scottish Parliament. The SNP, Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems have all been guilty of this practice, and while parties have moved away from supporting it at a parliamentary level (that is to say dual mandate MSP-MPs), the current Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross currently holds both roles having gone into the 2021 election with the explicit intention of holding a dual mandate.
After the 6 May election, there were at least 16 dual mandate holders. A full list of these MSPs is included below although the information may be incomplete.
The vast majority of dual mandates holders elected on 6 May 2021 are MSP-councillors with the exception being Douglas Ross (also and MSP) and Katy Clark (a member of the House of Lords, who has since suspended her membership of Westminster’s upper chamber).
As discussed elsewhere on this site, with council elections one year away and councillors only part-time positions, there is less of a case for abolishing dual mandates than there is for MSP-MPs. However, they are still somewhat problematic and should be addressed in some form. It appears that only one MSP-Councillor has resigned from their council role since the 2021 election.
All the dual mandate holders are newly elected MSPs who gained their dual mandate status upon election to the Scottish Parliament in May.
Dual mandate holders since the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election
Karen Adam (SNP) – newly elected MSP for Banffshire and Buchan coast. Upon election as an MSP she was a councillor for the Mid-Formartine ward for Aberdeenshire Council. At the end of May 2021, she announced her resignation as Councillor. A by-election will be held on 19 August. Adam appears to be the only MSP to have resigned her council role.
Siobhian Brown (SNP) – newly elected MSP for Ayr. Elected in 2017 as a Councillor for Ayr West (South Ayrshire Council). She is still listed on the council website as a councillor and there has been no news about a resignation (as at 9 August 2021)
Stephanie Callaghan (SNP) – MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill and councillor for Hamilton North and East ward on South Lanarkshire Council. Currently holds a dual mandate (as at 9 August 2021).
Katy Clarke (Lab) – MSP for West Scotland and member of the House of Lords. Clarke declared that she would stand down from the House of Lords if elected as an MSP. She is still listed as a life peer on the official Parliment website. This implies that she remains a peer but won’t be attending any meetings of the House of Lords.
Update (2 February 2022): Katy Clark has taken a leave of absence from the House of Lords, meaning while she was elected as an MSP with a dual mandate she no longer technically holds one.
Baroness Clark of Kilwinning’s full title is The Baroness Clark of Kilwinning. Her name is Katy Clark, and she is currently on leave of absence from the House of Lords.House of Lords – Source
Natalie Don (SNP) – MSP for Renfrewshire North and a councillor for Renfrewshire (Bishopton Bridge of Weir and Langbank). Don remains a councillor according to the council’s website.
Jackie Dunbar (SNP) – MSP for Aberdeen Donside and Aberdeen City councillor. Dunbar remains a councillor and has said she will donate her councillor salary to charity.
Meghan Gallacher (Con) – MSP for Central Scotland and North Lanarkshire councillor. She remains a councillor according to the council website and her Twitter page.
Craig Hoy (Con) – MSP for South Scotland and Cllr for Haddington and Lammermuir Ward. He remains a councillor according to his Twitter and the council website.
Douglas Lumsden (Con) – MSP for North East Region and Councillor for Aberdeen City Council (Airyhall, Broomhill and Garthdee). He has said he will remain a councillor to avoid the cost of a by-election and that he will donate his council salary to charity.
Michael Marra (Lab) – MSP for North East and Dundee City councillor for Lochee ward. He remains a councillor according to the council website and his Twitter page.
Paul McLennan (SNP) – MSP for East Lothian and Councillor for the Dunbar and East Linton ward (East Lothian council). McLennan remains a councillor according to the council website.
Audrey Nicoll (SNP) – MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine and Aberdeen City Councillor for the Torry/Ferryhill ward. She won her council seat in a 2019 by-election and remains a councillor.
Paul O’Kane (Labour) – MSP for West Scotland and Councillor for Newton Mearns North & Neilston (East Renfrewshire). Currently holds a dual mandate.
Emma Roddick (SNP) – MSP for Highlands and Islands and Inverness Central councillor (Highland Council). Roddick won her council seat and remains a councillor.
Douglas Ross (Conservative) – MSP for the Highland region and MP for Moray. Ross currently holds both roles and is the only MSP-MP dual mandate holder.
Colette Stevenson (SNP) – MSP for East Kilbride and South Lanarkshire councillor. Stevenson remains a councillor.