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Robin Harper MSP

Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Lothians
Assumed office 
6 May 1999

Born 4 August 1940 (1940-08-04) (age 69)
Thurso, Caithness
Political party Scottish Green Party
Alma mater University of Aberdeen
Profession Teacher

Robin Harper (Born 4 August 1940 in Thurso, Caithness) is a Scottish politician, and Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Lothians. He was co-convener of the Scottish Green Party until 2008. He is the party's spokesman on education and young people.

Harper became an MSP in the first elections to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the first ever elected Green parliamentarian in the United Kingdom.


Education and career

Harper was educated at St Marylebone Grammar School and Elgin Academy he graduated in 1962 from the University of Aberdeen.

He worked as a modern studies teacher at Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh, and before that as an English teacher in Kenya.

Scottish Parliament

Harper stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, and was elected as an additional member for the Lothians region, becoming the first ever elected Green parliamentarian in the UK's political history. In an emotional speech, he promised to be a critical voice on the environment in the Parliament.[1] He criticised the Scottish Executive's decision to split ministerial responsibility for the environment in 2001.[2]

He served as his party's sole representative in the first Parliament (1999-2003) until the 2003 election, when the Scottish Green Party won another 6 seats in the regional lists.[3]

In 2004 he was a member of the Scottish Parliament team in the TV general knowledge program University Challenge: The Professionals. He and fellow team members Richard Baker (Labour), Jamie Stone (Lib Dem) who was captain, and Stewart Stevenson (SNP) beat a Welsh Assembly team by 110 points to 75.[4]

In January 2007, The Scotsman reported that Harper was being considered for the next Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. Harper stated that he did not know of this story, but said "it would be an honour even to be considered".[5]

Following the 2007 elections to the Scottish Parliament, Harper was returned as a list MSP for the Lothians, this time one of only two Green Party members elected.[6] After an agreement with the Scottish National Party, the party with the largest mandate from the election, the Green MSPs including Harper voted for Alex Salmond to become First Minister of Scotland but the Greens declined to enter a formal coalition with the SNP. As part of the deal, fellow Green MSP Patrick Harvie was nominated to head the Holyrood Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee.[7] In 2009, Harper and Harvie vividly demonstrated the Greens were not in an alliance with the SNP when they voted to reject an SNP government budget. [8]

Personal life

Harper is a patron of many organisations including LGBT Youth Scotland, an organisation dedicated to the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people in the life of Scotland. He is married. He is also an Honorary Vice-President of English-Speaking Union Scotland.

He was elected as Rector of the University of Aberdeen in 2005, having previously served as Rector of the University of Edinburgh.


  1. ^ "Historic Green victory", BBC News, 7 May 1999.
  2. ^ "Greens see red over executive shake-up", BBC News, 21 March 2001
  3. ^ "Greens in seven heaven", BBC News, 2 May 2003
  4. ^ Scots win in 'Paxo' challenge (BBC), BBC News, 28 June 2004
  5. ^ "Harper tipped to be Presiding Officer", Scotland on Sunday, 28 January 2007
  6. ^ "Smaller parties suffer at polls", BBC News, 4 May 2007
  7. ^ "SNP and Greens sign working deal", BBC News, 11 May 2007
  8. ^ "Scottish budget rejected by MSPs", "BBC News", 28 Jan 2009

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Gavin Corbett
Convenor of the Scottish Green Party
Succeeded by
Eleanor Scott
Preceded by
New position
Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party
with Shiona Baird 2004–2007,
Alison Johnston 2007–2008

Succeeded by
Patrick Harvie
Academic offices
Preceded by
John Mark Colquhoun
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
2000 – 2003
Succeeded by
Tam Dalyell
Preceded by
Clarissa Dickson Wright
Rector of the University of Aberdeen
2005 – 2008
Succeeded by
Stephen Robertson

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