Sarah Boyack MSP is our new Vice-President from the Labour Party, replacing Catherine Stihler, the former Labour MEP.
Sarah sits for the Lothians at Holyrood and is Labour’s spokesperson on local government. She was one of the first female students at the Royal High School and then studied at the University of Glasgow gaining an MA (Hons) in History and Politics, and later a diploma in Town and Country Planning at Heriot-Watt University. She worked as a town planner in the London Borough of Brent then as a strategic planner in Central Regional Council in Stirling. She then became a lecturer at the School of Planning and Housing at Heriot-Watt University and was Convener of the Scottish Branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 1997.
Sarah was elected to the new Scottish Parliament in 1999 and served with First Minister Donald Dewar. She was Minister for Transport and the Environment from 1999 until 2000, during which time she introduced one of Scottish Labour’s flagship policies of free bus travel for the over 60s, and disabled people.
Sarah was elected Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Environment and Rural Development Committee in June 2003 and stood down in January 2007 when she returned to the Scottish Executive as Deputy Minister for the Environment and Rural Development. After a brief hiatus – in February 2017, she was appointed as Head of Public Affairs at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, the membership body for social housing providers in Scotland – she returned to the Scottish Parliament in 2019 replacing colleague Kezia Dugdale.
Sarah is passionately committed to environmental causes and in November 2004 received the RSPB Goldcrest Award for the most outstanding contribution to the development of environmental policy in Scotland since devolution. In December 2005 she was named the Scottish Renewables Best Politician. Sarah continues to champion housing and homelessness causes, renewables and sustainable transport.
She says: “I am delighted to be appointed to work with EMIS as an Honorary Vice-President. As we celebrate our first virtual Edinburgh International Festival we need to work hard to keep our cultural, political and economic relationships with our European friends and neighbours. We know that Brexit is not going to be good for Scotland so the work of EMIS could not be more important. On a personal level my late father was involved in the European movement and I am proud to continue that work.”
Her father, Jim Boyack, was a Labour local councillor and became key figure in the campaign for devolution and the renewed Scottish Parliament.