Half a dozen things worth knowing about Scotland’s six MEPs

Left to right: David Coburn, Alyn Smith, Ian Hudghton, Catherine Stihler, David Martin and Ian Duncan. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Left to right: David Coburn, Alyn Smith, Ian Hudghton, Catherine Stihler, David Martin and Ian Duncan. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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It is big, bulky and bureaucratic and soon the UK’s relationship with the EU is to be fundamentally tested. Six MEPs represent Scotland but how much do we know about them

They are the “Scottish Six”, the half dozen Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) elected by Scots who are clustered in political groups which broadly reflect the outlook of their own parties, sitting among 751 representatives drawn from the European Union’s 28 member states.

They get €8,000 (about £6,500) a month and can get daily expenses of about £215 plus travel, office and staff costs.

GREENS/EUROPEAN FREE ALLIANCE

ALYN SMITH MEP

Party: SNP

Roll-call vote attended: 88.62% (source: Vote Watch)

Speeches in plenary: 43

Parliamentary questions: 50

Motion for resolution: 34

WHO IS HE?

Former commercial lawyer and member of SNP staff at Holyrood. Twice contested the Edinburgh West parliamentary seat and was elected Scotland youngest MEP in the 2004 European elections. This is his third term in the European Parliament. Born in Glasgow, he lives in Edinburgh.

EU FOCUS

Foreign affairs, delegation for relations with Arab peninsula and Iraq.

WHAT DOES HE DO?

A strong voice on Middle Eastern affairs, Mr Smith has spoken widely on Syria and expressed “deep scepticism” over air strikes. Has said President Bashar al-Assad is the “primary obstacle to peace” and that EU has to facilitate wider international engagement over the conflict.

In June, he warned against “drifting towards” Mr Assad in the fight against Islamic State.

IAN HUDGHTON

Party: SNP

Roll-call votes attended: 73%

Speeches in plenary: 102

Written questions 26

WHO IS HE?

SNP MEP for 18 years and SNP president since 2005. Former leader of Angus Council and past owner of a decorating business. He lives in Forfar.

EU FOCUS

Fisheries, economic and monetary affairs and delegations for relations with US and Japan.

WHAT DOES HE DO?

Latest written question over “ongoing and significant” concern that UK energy policy threatens success of EU green energy targets. Has spoken widely on fishing, farming and food. Has also highlighted the risk to Scotland’s food and drink sector in the event of a Brexit vote and in June urged colleagues to explore Scotland’s “wonderful” fruit and vegetables.

PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE OF SOCIALISTS AND DEMOCRATS

DAVID MARTIN

Party: Labour

Roll-call votes attended: 95.47%

Speeches in plenary: 298

Written questions: 20

Motions for resolution: 44

EU FOCUS

International trade, human rights, foreign affairs.

WHO IS HE?

Scotland’s most senior MEP, first elected in 1984. From Edinburgh, he was vice-president (1989-2004) and latterly senior vice-president of the European Parliament. Past lecturer in European Affairs at Glasgow University.

WHAT DOES HE DO?

Recent written questions have included the EU support of migrant rights campaigner Andy Hall, who is being tried in Thailand for allegedly defaming a pineapple producer. Labour’s European Parliament spokesman on the Anti-Torture Regulation and active in campaign against steel dumping by China.

CATHERINE STIHLER

Party: Labour

Roll-call votes attended: 97.3%

Speeches in plenary: 254

Parliamentary questions: 16

EU FOCUS

Internal market and consumer protection; economic and monetary affairs. Relations with Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

WHO IS SHE

Rector of St Andrews University, where she studied. MEP for Scotland since 1999 and was first elected aged just 24. Anti-tobacco campaigner.

WHAT DOES SHE DO?

Recently pressed for action on states responsible for violations against refugees, including those who have refused them shelter and help with relocation. Voted against an increase in the EU Budget to tilt spending towards growth, job and funding for refugees.

EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS

DR IAN DUNCAN

Party: Conservative

Roll-call votes attended: 82.27% (souce: Vote Watch)

Speeches in plenary: 92

Parliamentary questions: 20

WHO IS HE?

Elected as a MEP in 2014, Dr Duncan – a geology graduate – is a former policy analyst with BP and past head of policy and communications at the Scottish Refugee Council. Head of the EU Office for the Scottish Parliament between 2005 and 2011. He is from Alyth in Perthshire.

EU BUSINESS

Public health and food safety; fisheries and party spokesman on climate change. Member of South Asia delegation.

WHAT DOES HE DO?

Recent questions over delays of Common Agricultural Policy payments to Scottish farmers – which are channelled through the Scottish Government. Called for more support for fishermen under new landing obligations.

On energy, he is leading the reform of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which allows industrial plants and power stations to trade greenhouse gas emission allowances.

Called for action to reduce impact of offshore wind farms on seabirds plus tougher stance against the ivory trade in the EU.

EUROPE OF FREEDOM AND DIRECT DEMOCRACY GROUP

DAVID COBURN

Party: UK Independence Party

Roll-call votes attended: 81.03%

Speeches: 90

Written questions: 10

WHO IS HE?

A former art dealer and city trader, Mr Coburn won Ukip’s first seat in Scotland’s after taking just over 10 per cent of the vote at the 2014 elections. He lives in Edinburgh.

EU BUSINESS

Fisheries, economic and monetary affairs; energy.

WHAT HAS HE DONE?

Pushed the anti-EU agenda on all fronts, whether it be through immigration, renewables. the steel industry or the capital markets. A high generator of “blue card” questions, which allow MEPs to quiz a counterpart during a speech.