Mairi McAllan-An intelligent young lady who has been promoted beyond her capabilities-lacks the experience of the university of life-my advice-get away from politics for a while

Mairi Louise McAllan b1993. Raised in Biggar, South Lanarkshire. Gained law degree in Scots law at Glasgow University.

Father Ian is the SNP Provost of South Lanarkshire.

Personal life: Helping her partner Iain Renwick run a successful beef and sheep farm in the Crawick Valley, near Sanquhar in Dumfries and Galloway.

Political drive: “I am a passionate advocate for this part of rural Scotland and am determined to play my part in safeguarding Scotland and the people of this area from the long-term economic and social dislocation which will follow Theresa May’s hard Brexit and the worrying prospect of a Tory government with an increased majority hell bent on further austerity as the Labour Party turns inwards and its vote collapses. Only the SNP can provide an effective opposition fighting Scotland’s corner and safeguarding our vital interests. I’m offering the constituency a choice between a future in which the SNP fights for the constituency and for Scotland at Westminster, or one where crucial decisions are made behind closed doors by a Tory government with its own narrow agenda. I want to help our communities reach their full potential.”

And what about Scotland’s independence?

A gifted intelligent young woman but will rapid promotion to the highest reaches of the cabinet backfire on her and the SNP. Sturgeon’s time in office provides a warning to the electorate. Ambitious but inexperienced and unproven she set the cause of independence back many years.

2015: Accompanied Nicola Sturgeon on her 2015 election campaign tour. 22 yo.
2015-2017: Employed by Harper MacLeod for two years, post degree qualification.
2017: Appointed Special advisor to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 24yo.
2017: Unsuccessful in her bid for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale at the GE.
2021: Elected Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Clydesdale. 27yo.
(A few days later)
2021-2023: Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform.
2023: Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition in 2023. 30yo.

This is McAllan in her own words- which reveal a great deal about her character-the chip on her shoulder is barely disguised and clearly burdens her thinking and judgement. Dangerous? possibly. But a Stonewall follower of Sturgeon’s badly flawed ideology nonetheless – this is one young lady that will never be persuaded to change direction after she has decided on a course of action. Over promoted and in over her head. She needs to take time out and learn her trade outside politics

Her own words

Being a woman in law is such an honour. After 5 years of study at the University of Glasgow and 2 years in training, receiving my practising certificate in 2018 was the culmination of a lot of hard work and a very proud moment. The year since then has been full of learning curves and new experiences and for the opportunity to keep learning, I am really grateful.

Being a woman in law is varied and stimulating. Already I have used my legal skills in so many different ways. Day to day life involves assisting individuals and organisations as they navigate the law in interesting and challenging matters. But beyond this, my skills and experience have also equipped me for other challenges including in launching a human rights organisation and standing for election to public office at just 24 years’ old. Now, as a solicitor specialising in energy and the natural environment, I have the immense privilege of working for a fantastic firm in an industry which is dynamic, innovative and central to the future sustainability of our planet. And with young women like Greta Thunberg to look to, who could fail to be inspired!

One of the greatest joys of my short career so far has been in co-founding human rights organisation, ‘RebLaw Scotland’ with my friends and fellow solicitors, Seonaid Stevenson and Katy MacAskill. Our mission is to ‘organise, agitate and litigate’ for a Scotland – or rather, a world – where vulnerable communities are well served by a legal system which is modern, robust and fit for purpose. Our rebellious movement has grown rapidly since our inaugural conference in 2017 and we have so many exciting plans for the future. Katy and Seonaid inspire me every day and knowing we will move through our careers together brings me great strength and assurance.

So being a woman in law is indeed an honour – as it is varied and exciting and thanks to pioneers such as Madge Easton Anderson we have come so far. However 100 years after lady lawyers were first allowed, the legal profession in 2019 can still feel like a man’s world. A microcosm of this can be found atop the many formal letters which solicitors exchange on a daily basis. Yes, I am referring to that most archaic of salutations, ‘Dear Sirs’.

It wasn’t until a period working in politics that it struck me how inappropriate the greeting really is. I recall receiving a ‘Dear Sirs’ letter and being told to reply pointing out that it had been opened by a female staff member, passed to a female manager and concerned a policy introduced by a female First Minister! I appreciate there are a great many gender (and indeed, class) based injustices which remain to be addressed and ‘Dear Sirs’ can seem trivial in comparison but the language we use is one tool in tackling inequality and the legal profession has a duty to lead the way in this regard. I, for one, refuse to be whitewashed from the face of a profession in which my gender is now the majority and would ask any man reading this, who might think it inconsequential, to consider how he would feel if all his correspondence began ‘Hi ladies’.

‘Dear Sirs’ is a #throwback to a time when our profession was exclusively male. When women were prohibited from being admitted and when Gwyneth Bebb, with all her proven capabilities, was refused entry to practice on the basis that she wasn’t a man and so could not be regarded as a ‘person’ in terms of the admission rules (needless to say the adjudicators in this case were all men). And although it is only language, it is just one of the vestiges of this boys’ club era which persists today.

The legal profession is still largely based on traditional hourly-rate billing and so success in the industry remains intrinsically linked to working long and unpredictable hours. And because child care and other home and family related tasks (now acknowledged as unpaid, ’emotional labour’) still largely fall to women (because we are ‘just better’ at remembering birthdays, allergies and vet appointments) many brilliant women do not make it to the top of our profession – not for want of ability but for want of time. Add to that a lengthy commute (because you moved out of town for your kids’ schooling) and 1 or 2 days’ menstrual agony each month and you begin to understand why women can feel defeated when, despite having proven ability and working like dogs, in practice, they fall behind their male counterparts in terms of salary and rank.

And make no mistake; while the caregiving and domestic expectations of women are societal, there is a structural problem within our profession which perpetuates the problem. And this is particularly true of private practice. Put simply, unless you believe that men are plainly more intelligent (in which case you should promptly return to the 18th century where you surely belong) then you must recognise the oddity that while the majority of law students are women (who excel academically), most of the top players in practice are men. Clearly everyone faces personal challenges and many great men have worked through adversity of their own kind. Likewise, this gender based discrepancy is not unique to law however since it is our industry, we love it and we have worked bloody hard to get here, we should all try to do better.

Our firms, chambers and universities must commit to creating work environments where, if you are an inspired thinker, a scrupulous problem solver and a brilliant communicator then you will make it to the top; womb or no womb, caregiver or otherwise. And those who lead the way in this regard will reap the rewards for they will end up with the most talented people – of whatever gender – in their senior roles. This, in turn, is proven to lead to happier clients and better balance sheets with the economic benefits of diversity now very well documented.

So change is urgently required and it is not likely to come fast enough from the top down. That means it is up to us as individuals to be the change we wish to see. My advice to anyone starting out is to remember how valuable you are and to shop around for an organisation which recognises that. The firm I work for now are modern and progressive and I truly feel that they see individuals and not genders (of course this is no accident on my part, having considered their gender pay gap report before applying for the job I currently fill).

As a junior solicitor, it’s important to me that the women coming behind me feel valued and empowered as they enter our profession. It is up to us all to make sure that no more girls and women spend 7 years studying, working and excelling in pursuit of legal qualification, only to achieve it and soon realise that their profession doesn’t want them at the top. The glass ceiling must be consigned to the past and as women in law we must recognise our value, demand better standards and, crucially, support one another. If we commit to this then, together with our many male allies, we will make reform at the top unstoppable.

And as for those who stand in the way of progress, who refuse to accept that our profession can be characterised by diversity as well as diligence, to them I say prepare to change. And fast. Or else history will judge you just as it does those men who, when presented with Gwyneth Bebb – holder of a first class Oxford degree in law – looked, reflected and concluded that they simply could not see a ‘person’.

March – May 2023: Bute-House, SNP-Greens deal commits Government to introducing highly protected marine area (HPMA) measures

The starting point

Scottish inshore waters have been damaged by decades of overfishing to the point where there are no economic stocks of fish. Inshore fishers catch prawns and scallops. Unfortunately, many of them use trawls to do it, continuing the sterilisation of the sea floor. HPMAs and an inshore trawling ban are a decent start to reversing the damage, by allowing young fish to survive and grow.

Consultation on expanding Scotland’s protected marine areas under the agreement stipulated at least 10 per cent of Scotland’s waters would be afforded highly protected marine area (HPMA) status which are defined as “designated areas of the sea that are strictly protected with strict limits on human activity such as swimming and aquaculture to allow the marine eco-systems within to recover and thrive”. But proposals have been met with fierce opposition from coastal communities who rely on fishing for their livelihood.

Environment minister, McAllan said: “Scotland has some of the most beautiful and diverse marine eco-systems on the planet and we are committed to safeguarding them. “As we develop this landmark HPMA network consultation, I would urge everyone with an interest in our precious marine environment, blue economy and coastal communities, to take part. Marine protected areas are an important way to ensure protection of some of the most vulnerable species and habitats and, while launching this new HPMA network consultation, I am also pleased to confirm it is my intention to permanently designate the Red Rocks and Longay MPA, following public consultation, to safeguard the future of the critically endangered flapper skate (1). Scotland’s MPA network extends to over a third of our seas, and I am today setting out how we intend to go even further by designating at least 10 per cent of our seas as highly protected marine areas – a world-leading commitment. Here in Scotland, and across the world, we are facing a biodiversity crisis and therefore we hope that other countries will match this ambition and commit to protect 30×30 at COP15.”

(1) Flapper skate – the largest of all European skates and rays – are a critically endangered species. They were historically abundant in the North-east Atlantic, but are now only found in the northern North Sea and off Scotland’s north-west coast. Scotland’s wider network of marine protected areas (MPAs) consists of 244 sites, covering 37 per cent of the country’s seas.

Early observations

McAllan’s statement “progressing Scotland’s leadership on blue carbon’ is missing the word “fishing”. The closest the statement came to acknowledging the industry’s dependence on the marine environment, and its contribution to coastal economies and national food security, was when she said: “Scotland has almost six times more sea than land, and these seas play an essential role in all of our lives – they regulate our climate, support a rich biodiversity, and in turn support our economy, wellbeing, culture and heritage – especially for our coastal and island communities.” The bulk of her statement focused on the marine environment’s role in tackling climate change and helping to meet net-zero targets, through the protection and restoration of marine habitats that capture and store blue carbon. The statement did at this point acknowledge that these habitats also ‘provide ecosystem services’, including ‘providing nursery beds for commercially important fish species’.

McAllan, met with more than 40 parliamentarians to discuss the Government’s plans for HPMAs, and was faced with angry opposition from backbenchers who angrily challenged the proposals. Many MSPs raised concerns about exactly how the Government defined opposition when they say communities who are “vehemently opposed” to the proposals will not see them imposed. There was also concern about what constitutes a “community”, in terms of who will be consulted when areas are chosen by ministers.

Karen Adam, the SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, said clarity on how communities would be defined and whether they are “vehement opposed” was needed “urgently”. She said: “We need clarity on how those communities will be defined and how we will gauge their ‘vehement’ opposition. And we need it urgently. Only today, I heard of delays in the purchase of vessels as a result of a lack of certainty. We must avoid the ambiguity and uncertainty that the Tory pursuit of Brexit saddled already on our blue economy.”

Alasdair Allan, the Nationalist MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, said he had “never known my constituency to be apparently so unanimously opposed to any policy as this one”.

Fergus Ewing was furious in his opposition, labelling the proposals an “execution notice” and warning he was worried fishers were “losing confidence in the party I’ve served for nearly 50 years”. The former minister went on to suggest the best use of the consultation was to either put it in the bin or use it as a firelighter. He then proceeded to rip up the document on the chamber floor, stating “that is what the people of Scotland who have great affection for our fishermen want to happen and what should happen and what I believe will happen at some stage or another”.

Kate Forbes, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, warned the “rarest species in our coastal areas and our islands will soon become people if these proposals go ahead as planned”. She called on the Government to “either drop the proposals or to find a clear consensus … on balancing protections in the marine environment and safeguard tens of thousands of jobs”. She said it was her job to engage with the Government, which she said has “turned a corner” in its approach to HPMAs. “My position has always been that I think they are potentially jeopardising coastal communities,” she said. “It’s important that the Scottish Government works with coastal communities going forward.”

In a statement, McAllan said the meeting with parliamentarians was “very useful” and reiterated the plans were at a “very early stage”, with no sites having been selected. She said: “There was widespread agreement that protecting our marine natural environment is vital. It is an unavoidable truth that we are in the midst of a climate and nature crisis and we must be prepared to take action commensurate with the scale of that challenge. “However, it is also true that, as we tackle the climate emergency, we must do so via a fair and just transition, which empowers communities and shares in the benefits of a green economy.” She added: “The recent initial consultation we undertook has received thousands of responses, and we are now carefully analysing these as we consider our next steps.”

Beatrice Wishart, who led the member’s debate, urged the Government to reconsider the HPMA proposals. She said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that the proposals for highly protected marine areas, or HPMAs, have struck fear and anxiety in coastal and island communities. It’s time to stop implying fishermen don’t care about our seas. We need a holistic approach to our seas to support all the interested stakeholders and sectors, including how the future conservation of our seas should work.”

Rachael Hamilton, shadow Cabinet secretary for rural economy and tourism for the Scottish Conservatives, told the BBC she wants the HPMA plans to be scrapped. Only to be embarrassed when she was presented with the policy commitment from the Scottish Conservative’s manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament election which proposed to new protected marine areas in Scotland and an expansion of their extent – as well as piloting HPMAs. Scottish Labour also backed HPMAs being extended to cover 20 per cent of Scotland’s seas.


2 thoughts on “Mairi McAllan-An intelligent young lady who has been promoted beyond her capabilities-lacks the experience of the university of life-my advice-get away from politics for a while

  1. Quite clearly McAllan (nae relation tae me) has sought extensive advice through consultation with the diverse range of fishing interests within her ‘Woke community’. Yet another of Sturgeons shallow sprats entirely out of her depth!!


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