SENIOR Labour MSP John Park who ran the party’s campaign at last year’s election is to quit Holyrood within the next few days to take up a job as a trade union organiser.
Mr Park will leave the Scottish Parliament on Friday to begin work for the Community trade union as policy and strategy director for the UK.
His seat at Holyrood will be handed to the next Labour candidate on the Mid Scotland and Fife list, Jayne Baxter who is likely to be sworn in as an MSP next week.
Mr Park was first elected as a Labour MSP in 2007 for the same region at Holyrood that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown represents at Westminster.
The MSP, who had previously been a trade union official at the Rosyth dockyard, was Labour’s campaign coordinator during the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections.
Mr Park’s new role will include campaigning for support for disabled workers affected by redundancies at Remploy factories across the UK, as well as representing employees in the steel industry.
He said: “This is a decision that I have not made lightly and I now have the opportunity to represent thousands of workers across the UK.
“I’ve tried to use my time in politics to make sure the issues important to working people – jobs, apprenticeships and a living wage – are centre stage. Now, as workers are under attack like never before, I am returning to my union roots to fight at the coal face.”
Mr Park was praised by Scottish Labour leader Johann and the SNP who said the departure of the MSP, who campaigned for a Living Wage for workers, would be a loss to Holyrood.
Ms Lamont said: “John will be a loss to the Scottish Parliament but I understand his reasons for stepping down and I know he will continue to play a significant role in the Labour movement.
“He has been a hard-working MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, his home region, and has served the Labour group in a number of roles since he was elected in 2007, and I would like to thank him his for efforts.”
An SNP spokesman said: “The SNP wish John Park well in his new role. As an MSP, Mr Park has focused on a number of issues important to the people of Scotland, helping to keep topics such as apprenticeships and the living wage high on the political agenda.
“His departure is a big loss to Labour in the Scottish Parliament, and he will be a hard act to follow.