Joan McAlpine has thanked voters in Dumfriesshire who backed her and congratulated Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell, who won the seat in the Scottish Parliament election last week.
The former SNP MSP increased her vote by more than 3000 but failed to take the seat as the Conservative incumbent increased his majority.
Ms McAlpine was elected a south Scotland regional MSP in 2011 and lives in Dumfries and Galloway. She said: “I congratulate Oliver on his success and thank the 15,400 people who voted for me and the SNP. It was more than one in three voters and a rise which was much higher than that achieved by our party across Scotland.
Ms McAlpine, who lives in Dumfries and Galloway, said: “it was a privilege to serve the people of south Scotland in parliament and I have loved my time working with local people on the issues that matter to them, most recently backing the residents of Eskdale Muir in their campaign against high calibre, military-style shooting ranges.
“I am particularly proud of the part I played in helping secure government backing for the first big burns supper festival and the midsteeple quarter project to buy back neglected buildings in the town centre for the community. I was also pleased that I was able to raise the needs of learning disabled people in parliament over the last year, successfully campaigning for them to receive the vaccine as a priority and highlighting the greater mortality and severe illness they experience. I continue to have concerns about the loss of care packages during the pandemic and regret I will not be back in parliament to fight that.
“I would like to thank my staff, Kenelma, Karen and Tessa who have worked so hard supporting hundreds of individuals, businesses and communities, mainly in Dumfries and Galloway, during the pandemic. “when an MSP loses their seat, their staff are out of a job, and that’s hard.”
Ms McAlpine, who was a senior national newspaper journalist before entering politics, said she will take a short break before moving to a new career. However she also plans to spend time helping secure the future of Ellisland Farm, the rural home of Robert Burns outside Dumfries. She is volunteer chair of the Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, the charity which runs the site.
“Ellisland is one of the most important places in the story of Burns and we are raising funds to conserve and develop it as a cultural asset for the people of D&G as well as a world class visitor attraction.” Ms McAlpine said. “It’s a huge challenge as the site is large and expensive to maintain but it’s a challenge I relish.”