Jean Urquhart was born and brought up in West Lothian. She left school and home when she was 15, and lived in Edinburgh, London and Glasgow for the next eight years, as well as a short stay in Canada and North America. She developed a real love for the City of Glasgow and immersed herself in many community groups during the five years she lived there. In 1972, she went to Ullapool to help a friend (actor Robert Urquhart) out with his small summer café for a fortnight. She only really came back to Glasgow to pack up and head north, with her love and ambition for another part of Scotland inspiring her to make it work.
Jean joined the Scottish National Party in 1989, and became involved in the Party from the very beginning, becoming a regular delegate to both National Council and to Conference. Before being elected in May 2011 to serve the people of the Highlands and Islands in the Scottish Parliament, Jean was a Councillor for Wester Ross, Lochalsh and Strathpeffer from 2003-2012 within Highland Council, where she chaired the Audit and Scrutiny Committee and was a member of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee. As well as being the SNP Group’s Deputy Leader in the Council, Jean was selected as the SNP’s 2010 General Election candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross and was the 2011 constituency candidate for Shetland before her election via the regional list system to the Scottish Parliament.
Jean, a long-time member of CND, resigned from the SNP in October 2012 following the Party’s decision at its Annual Conference to adopt a pro-NATO stance as part of an updated defence policy. As a result of this, Jean is now an independent MSP for the Highlands & Islands Region in the Scottish Parliament and is continuing to represent her constituents on matters that affect the Highlands and Islands.
In the Parliament, Jean is the Deputy Convener of the Cross-Party Group on Crofting, and is involved to varying extents with the CPGs on Architecture & the Built Environment, Epilepsy, Human Trafficking, Palestine, Poland, and Rural Policy. Jean is also involved in the establishment of two new CPGs on Culture and Adult Learning.
Jean has a lifelong interest in Scots culture, and has been involved with many cultural groups and organisations, not least through her ownership of the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool. She continues to take an interest in other areas of experience, such as tourism, community development, nuclear disarmament, education and rural affairs, and is always enthusiastic about advancing those interests and more through her work at Holyrood.
Jean is a passionate supporter of Scottish independence, and spends a lot of what spare time she has discussing independence with friends, visitors to the Ceilidh Place and anybody who spots her Yes Scotland badge and wants to have a chat! As well as attending Yes meetings across the Highlands and Islands, Jean also writes occasional columns for National Collective, a website dedicated to promoting the views of artists and creatives on independence, and is a regular attendee and guest speaker at Radical Independence meetings.
This website will showcase some of the work Jean undertakes in the Parliament on the behalf of her constituents. If you have any questions, queries or concerns that you wish to raise, please don’t hesitate to contact Jean by clicking “Contact Jean”.