Curtains for Cathie

05/04/11. John Devlin. MOTHERWELL. Ravenscraig Regional Sport Facility. Scottish Parliamentary election count. O'Donnell Way  Motherwell.
05/04/11. John Devlin. MOTHERWELL. Ravenscraig Regional Sport Facility. Scottish Parliamentary election count. O'Donnell Way Motherwell.

FORMER MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth Cathie Craigie was left out in the cold as local voters deserted Labour in favour of the Scottish National Party.

Cathie (57) lost to the SNP’s Jamie Hepburn by 3,459 votes in last week’s elections, and as she was not on the Central Scotland Regional List she no longer has a place in Holyrood.

In her concession speech following the announcement in Motherwell’s Ravenscraig, Cathie blamed “right-wing voters moving from the Liberal Democrats and the Tories,” for the explosive growth in support for the SNP.

And she warned her successor and former rival: “Make sure the people of Cumbernauld and Kilsyth are well cared for.”

But Cathie, the area’s MSP since the Parliament was re-convened in 1999, said she was pleased all local campaigning had been “clean and positive. “

Earlier, Jamie Hepburn had expressed similar sentiments and thanked Craigie for her 12 years’ service as an MSP.

Soon afterwards, Cathie told the News and Chronicle: “On every election night there has always been a time when it has looked like I would lose, so I’ve always been prepared for this.” The 2003 contest was particularly close, and in fact went to a recount. In the end just 520 votes separated Cathie from the SNP’s Andrew Wilson.

“I am the first person to have had the honour and privilege of representing Cumbernauld and Kilsyth in the Scottish Parliament, and nobody can ever take that away from me,” said Cathie.

While she was looking forward to the opportunity to spend more time with her family, particularly her two young grandchildren, Cathie added that she was intent on remaining involved in local politics. With her close ally and campaign manager Mark Griffin’s appointment to Holyrood through the Regional List, it is thought that she will have plenty advice to give him.

Cathie Craigie grew up in Kilsyth and served as a local councillor for over 20 years before moving to Holyrood. As an MSP she served on the Justice Committee and was the first woman to have a Member’s Bill become law with the enactment of the Mortgage Rights (Scotland) Act giving new rights to anyone facing reposession.

Cathie also took a particular interest in championing deaf people. Her British Sign Language Bill, which sought to have BSL recognised as an official language of Scotland, was gaining cross-party support until she lost her seat,

Delia Henry of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, saluted saluted Cathie’s work on behalf of people with hearing difficulties. “I would like to pay tribute to Cathie Craigie’s work since 1999 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing; in particular she set up the Cross Party Group on Deafness in the Scottish Parliament which brought together MSPs of all parties to highlight the issues that affect people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Her efforts has culminated in the drafting of the British Sign Language Bill which has seen a huge response from the public. There is now an opportunity for someone from the class of 2011 to pick up the mantle and make sure that the BSL Bill progresses.”