North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has said he will stand down at next year’s Scottish election.
Mr Macdonald, one of Scotland’s longest-serving MSPs, used the announcement of his departure to call on his successors to make the case for a “mature, democratic Union”.
His plea was made in response to Nicola Sturgeon’s repeated calls for a second independence referendum and reports that Boris Johnson described devolution as a “disaster”.
Mr Macdonald, who will have completed 22-years at Holyrood when he leaves, said it was time for Labour’s next generation to take over.
“I am keen to encourage a new generation to take the lead in tackling the challenges which lie ahead,” Mr Macdonald said. “An era of global pandemic, economic dislocation and climate change will demand long-term commitment and a vision for the next thirty years, here at home and around the world. I will do everything I can to support those who can give that lead going forward.
“With Boris Johnson proclaiming devolution to be a disaster, and Nicola Sturgeon launching another campaign to Leave the UK, the case for a mature democratic Union needs to be made anew. Labour is again best-placed to argue for change across Britain, while those who have grown up in a devolved Scotland are best-placed to make the case to the younger generation.”
Mr Macdonald added: “With all those considerations in mind, I intend to step down from elected office at the next election in May, to campaign for a new generation of Labour candidates, and to find new ways in which I can engage with the big policy challenges of the 2020s.”
Mr Macdonald, who turns 64 in the new year, is currently a deputy presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, and convener of the health and sport committee.
He entered Holyrood when members were first elected in May 1999, and served for six years as a minister in the then Scottish Executive between 2001 and 2007. He represented the Aberdeen Central constituency until it was won by the SNP in 2011. However, he remained in parliament as a list MSP for the North East region.
Looking back over his career, Mr Macdonald said Labour’s argument for devolving from the centre had helped change lives locally, noting that he had campaigned for projects such as the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and the Major Trauma Centre at Foresterhill.