Roseanna Cunningham (born 27 July 1951, in Glasgow) is a Scottish politician who is the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform. She was the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training 2014−2016 and is the Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of the Scottish Parliament for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, having previously represented Perth 1999−2011. She was an MP for Perth and Kinross 1995–1997, then for Perth 1997–2001.
|Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform|
|Assumed office |
18 May 2016
|First Minister||Nicola Sturgeon|
|Preceded by||Aileen McLeod|
|Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training|
21 November 2014 – 18 May 2016
|First Minister||Nicola Sturgeon|
|Preceded by||Angela Constance|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
|Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs|
25 May 2011 – 21 November 2014
|First Minister||Alex Salmond|
|Preceded by||Fergus Ewing|
|Succeeded by||Paul Wheelhouse|
|Depute Leader of the |
Scottish National Party
26 September 2000 – 3 September 2004
|Preceded by||John Swinney|
|Succeeded by||Nicola Sturgeon|
|Member of the Scottish Parliament|
for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire
|Assumed office |
6 May 1999
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Member of Parliament|
Perth and Kinross (1995–1997)
25 May 1995 – 14 May 2001
|Preceded by||Nicholas Fairbairn|
|Succeeded by||Annabelle Ewing|
|Born||27 July 1951|
|Political party||Scottish National Party|
|Alma mater||University of Western Australia|
University of Edinburgh
University of Aberdeen
Early life, education and legal practice
Cunningham was born on 27 July 1951 in Glasgow to Catherine and Hugh Cunningham, and spent her early years living in East Lothian and Edinburgh. In 1960, she emigrated with her family to Perth in Australia, and completed her schooling at John Curtin High School in Fremantle. As a teenager she became interested in politics, and in 1969 joined the SNP as an overseas member. In 1975 Cunningham graduated from the University of Western Australia with a BA Hons in politics. She returned to Scotland in 1976.
She worked as a research assistant at SNP headquarters from 1977 to 1979, and was a member of the left-wing 79 Group inside the SNP during the early 1980s, but avoided expulsion as she was not a member of its steering committee (future SNP leader Alex Salmond by contrast who served on the 79 Group committee was expelled, while Margo MacDonald resigned from the party in protest before she could be expelled).
Cunningham returned to university in 1980, graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 with a Bachelor of Laws degree, followed in 1983 by a Diploma in Legal Practice from the University of Aberdeen. She worked as a solicitor for Dumbarton District Council and Glasgow District Council. After a brief period in private practice, she was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1990.
In the 1992 general election Cunningham stood in the Perth and Kinross constituency, only losing by around 2,000 votes.
In 1995, she gained the seat in the Perth and Kinross by-election succeeding the recently deceased Conservative MP, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn. She had initially been left off the SNP's candidate shortlist over her brief relationship in the 1970s with Donald Bain, then husband of SNP MP Margaret Ewing, on the grounds that the issue could prove an embarrassment to the party. Cunningham said the affair had begun after the couple had separated. She was put back in contention following an intervention by the then party leader Alex Salmond, and after Ewing made clear she had no objection to Cunningham's candidature. In the 1997 election, she stood for the Perth constituency and was elected.
In 1999 she became the MSP for Perth and continues to represent the area in the Scottish Parliament to this day. In 2000, she was elected the SNP Senior Vice-Convener (depute leader). Also in that year, she helped establish the Scottish Left Review publication. She stood down as an MP in 2001, to concentrate on the Scottish Parliament.
John Swinney announced his resignation as leader of the SNP on 22 June 2004, and on the same day Cunningham announced that she would be a candidate in the subsequent election for the party leadership. In the early stages of the campaign she appeared to be the clear front-runner, but the entirely unexpected decision of the former leader Alex Salmond to enter the race just before nominations closed changed everything, and Cunningham ultimately finished a distant second.
In December 2006, she led an unsuccessful attempt to prevent same-sex couples gaining the right to adopt children, despite having previously been named ScotsGay Parliamentarian of the Year in 1998. When legislation to introduce same-sex marriage in Scotland was passed by the Scottish Parliament in February 2014, she had voted against the bill.
In the first reshuffle of the SNP Government in February 2009, Cunningham was appointed as Minister for the Environment. In December 2010, she also took on portfolio responsibility for climate change, becoming Minister for the Environment and Climate Change. After the 2011 election, which saw a SNP landslide, she was appointed Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs with special responsibility for tackling sectarianism.
In Nicola Sturgeon's first reshuffle in November 2014, she was promoted to Cabinet as Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training.
She enjoyed hill walking, music, reading, and stirring up trouble.
- "Cunningham, Roseanna, (born 27 July 1951), Member (SNP) Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish Parliament, since 2011 (Perth, 1999–2011); Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, since 2016", Who's Who, Oxford University Press, 1 December 2007, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u12569, retrieved 22 April 2019
- Johnson, Maureen (3 April 1995). "Nationalist movement gains strength on moors and glens. An Independent Scotland?". The Glasgow Herald. p. 2. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- Arlidge, John (1 March 1995). "SNP candidate's past haunts her". The Independent. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "MSPs vote for same-sex adoption". BBC News. 7 December 2006.
- "ScotsGay Magazine - 25". www.scotsgay.co.uk.
- "Scotland's same-sex marriage bill: How MSPs voted". 4 February 2014.
- Cunningham relishing new challenge, Scottish Government, 12 February 2009
- Official website
- MSP biography pages at Scottish Parliament website
- SNP website
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Roseanna Cunningham