Jean Urquhart

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Jean Urquhart
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Highlands and Islands
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
In office
6 May 2011 – 23 March 2016
Personal details
Born (1949-05-17) 17 May 1949 (age 70)
West Lothian
Political partyRISE - Scotland's Left Alliance
Scottish National Party (until 2012)

Jean Urquhart MBE (born 17 May 1949) is a Scottish politician. She was formerly a Member of the Scottish Parliament, first elected in 2011 for the Highlands and Islands region as a Scottish National Party (SNP) member, then continuing to sit as an independent after she left the SNP in October 2012. She had been a SNP councillor at the Highland Council from 2003-2011.

Early life[edit]

She was born on 17 May 1949 in West Lothian,[1] the daughter of an agricultural engineer. She was educated at Lindsay High School, Bathgate.[2]

Political career[edit]

In 1999, she stood unsuccessfully as the SNP candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.[3] In the 2003 Parliament election she was eighth on the SNP’s regional list, with only two of these getting seats.[4]

In the 2003 election for the Highland Council she became a SNP member for the Lochbroom Ward.[5] In 2007 she was returned as councillor for Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh.[6] She was then named as vice-convener to lead an Independent/ SNP administration.[7] In 2009 the Steering Group of the UK's first ever Housing Fair appointed her as its chair when this event was held near Inverness.[8][9]

In the 2011 Scottish Parliament Election she stood as the SNP candidate for Shetland.[10] She was elected from the regional list, becoming a SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Highlands and Islands.[11] She was a member of the Scottish National Party until October 2012, when she resigned from the party over the change to the party's NATO policy.[12] She continued as an independent.[13] In 2014, after Urquhart intervened, the Post Office Ltd made its mortgage service available to people in Bute, Lewis, Harris, Orkney, Shetland, Arran, Mull and Islay.[14] in 2015 she raised the issue of the safety of sex workers, suggesting that legislation could be introduced that would enable some transformative actions be taken.[15]

In October 2015 it was reported that she would not be seeking re-election to the Scottish Parliament in 2016.[16] The following month, having become a member of RISE – Scotland's Left Alliance, she became involved with drawing up its Highlands and Islands manifesto for this election.[17] In January 2016 RISE announced their candidates, with Urquhart named as their lead for the Highlands and Islands regional list.[18] RISE were not successful in electing any of their candidates.

Awards and honours[edit]

She had been awarded a MBE in 1990 for services to the arts and the community, in recognition of the work she and her husband and others put in to establish The Ceilidh Place as a centre for the arts and tourism. She was later offered an OBE but turned it down.[19] In 2015, it was reported that she had decided to hand back her MBE, explaining that the awards system did not recognise the efforts of the many other people that had been involved.[20]

She received an honorary fellowship from the University of the Highlands and Islands in 2006.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Since 1973 she has managed "The Ceilidh Place",[13] a hotel in Ullapool which was named Venue of the Year at the Scots Trad awards in December 2014 for its championing of Scottish culture all year round.[22] She was married to Robert Urquhart, a well-known Scottish actor in British film, stage and television, who died in 1995.

In 2000 she took a Scottish Studies course at Newbattle Abbey College.[23] In 2017 she completed an art course and some of her work was exhibited in Ullapool following this.[24]


  1. ^ "Jean Urquhart: Personal Information". Scottish Parliament. Archived from the original on 11 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  2. ^ Rhodes, Mandy (5 November 2012). "Independent woman". Holyrood. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Vote 99: Constituency: Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross". BBC News. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Vote 2003: Scottish Parliament election. region: Highlands and Islands". BBC News. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Local government elections: Election results 2003". Highland Council. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Local government elections: Election results 2007". Highland Council. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Leaders elected to north councils". BBC News. BBC. 17 May 2007.
  8. ^ "Urquhart set to spearhead housing fair". Ross-shire Journal. 28 December 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  9. ^ "The Highland Housing Fair". Architects' Journal. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  10. ^ Robertson, John (6 May 2011). "Urquhart wins seat as SNP run Liberal Democrats very close in Shetland list vote". The Shetland Times. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Scotland elections: Regions: Highlands and Islands". BBC News. BBC. 11 May 2011.
  12. ^ Ross, David (23 October 2012). "Highland MSPs quit SNP over Nato policy change". Herald Scotland. Newsquest. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Jean Urquhart MSP". The Scottish Parliament. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Post Office reacts to criticism on island mortgages". BBC News. 13 March 2014.
  15. ^ Grant, Katie (11 September 2015). "Scottish MSP's plans to decriminalise sex work wins support across the country". The Independent. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Scottish Parliament Fact sheet. Session 4 MSPs not standing in the 2016 Election" (PDF). Scottish Parliament. 26 October 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Ex-SNP MSP to draw up Rise manifesto". BBC News. 18 November 2015.
  18. ^ Freeman, Tom (6 January 2016). "RISE announces regional list candidates". Holyrood. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  19. ^ Candlish, Jane (10 January 2015). "Highlands and islands MSP hands back MBE". Press and Journal. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  20. ^ Bevington, Pete (8 January 2015). "Local MSP hands back her MBE". The Shetland News. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  21. ^ "honorary awards: honorary fellowships: 2006 honorary fellowships". University of the Highlands and Islands. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  22. ^ Ferguson, Brian (13 December 2014). "Trad Music Awards: Martyn Bennett Story victorious". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  23. ^ "Alumni: Jean Urquhart". Newbattle Abbey College. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  24. ^ Paterson, Kirsteen (25 February 2017). "Politics career draws to a close as former MSP Jean Urquhart makes belated return to the easel". The National. Retrieved 26 February 2017.

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