Holyrood 2016: Who are Edinburgh's new MSPs?

THERE will be some new - and familiar - faces representing Edinburgh constituencies in the next Scottish Parliament.

Friday, 6th May 2016, 5:28 am
Updated Friday, 6th May 2016, 8:42 am
Ash Denham  awaits the Edinburgh Eastern result.
Ash Denham awaits the Edinburgh Eastern result.

So who are they?

Edinburgh Central – Ruth Davidson

Ruth Davidson has been proven correct with her prediction that the Scottish Conservatives would beat Labour for the first time in the history of Holyrood in last night’s election. The leader of the Scottish Tories gains the seat for Edinburgh Central taking over from the SNP’s Marco Biagi who won the seat in the 2011 election. Ms Davidson has fought a tough battle against SNP’s Alison Dickie as well as Labour’s Sarah Boyack who previously held the seat until the 2007 election. The 37-year old has previously stood for Glasgow North East constituency and latterly Glasgow Kelvin prior to returning to Edinburgh where she was born. The former aide to Annabel Goldie lives in the Edinburgh Central constituency with her partner, Jen Wilson.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton
Alex Cole-Hamilton

Edinburgh Eastern - Ashten Regan-Denham

A prominent voice for Women for Independence (WFI), Ashten Regan-Denham takes over as MSP for Edinburgh Eastern from former justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill. She has a B.A. in International Politics as well as an M.Sc. in Development Management. Having spent a large amount of her childhood in Devon she later went on to live in London before returning to Scotland in 2003. As head of campaigns and advocacy for Common Weal, Mrs Denham recently experienced fierce media criticism regarding her private life namely, the private education of her two sons. However, she stands against cuts to public services and welfare and is ‘fighting for a better deal for people across the constituency’. Mr MacAskill held Edinburgh Eastern since 2007 having gained from Labour.

Edinburgh Northern and Leith - Ben Macpherson

It’s another victory for the SNP as they win the Edinburgh Northern and Leith seat from Labour. Ben Macpherson takes what was the only seat not to be held by the SNP during the last parliament from Malcolm Chisholm who held it for 16 years. Mr Macpherson fought tough competition in order to represent the party but has been named by Nicola Sturgeon as a future star of the party. He succeeds against Labour’s candidate and former Lord Provost Lesley Hinds. The solicitor, who is in his early 30’s, trained at Edinburgh University after growing up in the constituency. His experience includes renewable energy, financial services as well as political campaigning. His father ran a design consultancy and his mother has worked for most of her life in the NHS. Prior to his election he said ‘I would stand up against austerity and fight strongly for those affected by it. At a national level I’m also passionate about progressing Scotland’s renewable energy potential, effective land reform and measures to reduce inequality’.

Edinburgh Southern - Daniel Johnson

Once again Labour prevents the SNP from holding all seats in the capital as Daniel Johnson wins the Edinburgh Southern seat. It is victory at last for Labour in this constituency as the party had previously expected to win the seat from the Liberal Democrats in the 2011 election. Now Mr Johnson, who lives with his wife Jackie and two young daughters in the constituency, will take over from the SNP’s Jim Eadie. Mr Johnson has been a Labour party member for 20 years and has a background in business. His degrees from St Andrews and Strathclyde University are in philosophy and management respectively. Prior to his studies at Strathclyde University he spent some time in London and in 2012 he became the managing director of his fathers businesses, Studio One and Tiger Paper Group. He started working for Labour in 2014 with priorities surrounding local policing, school investment community control of planning and access to health services. Notably, he was the first independent retailer in Edinburgh to become an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Edinburgh Western – Alex Cole­-Hamilton

A win against the odds in Edinburgh Western, as the Liberal Democrats reclaim a once safe seat, with Alex Cole­-Hamilton defeating the SNP candidate Toni Giugliano by just under 3,000 votes.

A prominent figure throughout the Liberal Democrats’ campaign, Mr Cole-­Hamilton started campaigning two years ago following the SNP “tsunami” of 2011. He was frequently on television alongside party leader Willie Rennie for party photo calls, and active in arguing the Liberal Democrats’ corner on BBC’s Scotland 2016 programme on several occasions in the past few months. The 39 year old takes his position having worked as Head of Policy for Scottish childrens’ charity Aberlour and highlights housebreak­ins, greater provision of GP services and increased mental health services as among the key issues. In his victory speech, Mr Cole-­Hamilton spoke of his party lighting a “beacon in the Lib Dem fight back”. The oldest of four siblings, Mr Cole-Hamilton lives in the Blackhall area of his constituency with his three children and wife Gillian, herself the unsuccessful Liberal Democrat candidate in Falkirk.