Scottish Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon has been appointed as Public Health Minister, to replace Joe Fitzpatrick who resigned last week.
As Mairi moves on, the new Environment Minister (or Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, to be precise) is Ben Macpherson, who moves from another Ministerial role in to this new position.
[Photo from benmacpherson.scot website]
The Scottish Government website has posted this bio:
Ben grew up in Edinburgh before studying a BA Honours degree in Philosophy and Politics at the University of York. After graduating he returned to Edinburgh and worked in a number of different roles before going on to complete a postgraduate LLB and a Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Edinburgh. He then qualified as a solicitor and practised as a lawyer with one of Scotland’s large commercial firms. As well as his legal training, Ben has worked in financial services, for an NGO, in renewable energy, in a school and in hospitality.
Throughout his career, Ben has been a committed political activist. In 2016 this culminated in being elected as the MSP for the Edinburgh Northern and Leith constituency, where he lives.
As a backbencher, Ben has previously served on the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee, Justice Committee and Sub-Committee on Policing. He was also a Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the First Minster between 2016-2018. In June 2018 he was appointed as Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development in the Scottish Government, before moving in February 2020 to his current role as Minister for Public Finance and Migration.
He is a committed internationalist and passionate about social justice and sustainable, inclusive economic progress. Beyond working and campaigning, Ben likes running, football and watching films and documentaries.
The news of Ben’s appointment was met with undisguised fury by some in the game shooting sector, who began hurling personal abuse at him on social media for, er, living in Edinburgh. Fortunately this foul vitriol was diluted somewhat by the warm welcome he received from many in the conservation sector.
This junior ministerial position is still overseen by Cabinet Secs Roseanna Cunningham (Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform) and Fergus Ewing (Rural Economy & Tourism). Roseanna is not standing for the 2021 election so there’ll be another new face for this portfolio in May, unless an old face returns…..
Paul Wheelhouse for Cabinet Secretary would be a bit of a result if the SNP retain power. A thoroughly decent guy with plenty of Ministerial experience, including a period as Environment Minister (2012-2014), where he was particularly active on pushing forward measures to combat illegal raptor persecution (e.g. general licence restrictions, wildlife crime sentencing review, instructions to Crown Office to utilise all enforcement tools available, review on gamebird management in European countries).
After the Scottish Government’s landmark decision last month (here) to finally introduce a licensing scheme for grouse shooting as soon as possible in the next Parliamentary session, assuming they are re-elected, there are interesting times ahead as the details of this scheme are still to be thrashed out.