Former SNP minister Ash Regan joins the Alba Party, becoming its first MSP - who is she?

One-time SNP leadership contender Ash Regan has joined the Alba Party, becoming its first MSP in the party’s history.
MSP Ash Regans attends the Scottish Parliament on March 28, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Humza Yousaf was elected as the new leader of the Scottish National Party yesterday after Nicola Sturgeon resigned in February. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)MSP Ash Regans attends the Scottish Parliament on March 28, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Humza Yousaf was elected as the new leader of the Scottish National Party yesterday after Nicola Sturgeon resigned in February. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
MSP Ash Regans attends the Scottish Parliament on March 28, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Humza Yousaf was elected as the new leader of the Scottish National Party yesterday after Nicola Sturgeon resigned in February. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Ash Regan, a former contender for the SNP leadership, has recently left the party to join the Alba Party, marking herself as the party's inaugural MSP. Expressing her reasons for defecting from the SNP, Regan, a former Scottish Government minister, emphasized that the party had deviated from its primary focus on independence, prompting her decision to join Alba.

The announcement of her move to Alba coincided with the party's conference in Glasgow, which was initiated by former SNP leader and ex-Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Salmond expressed his delight in welcoming Ms Regan to the Alba Party, praising her unwavering commitment to the cause of Scottish independence and emphasizing her valuable contribution to the party's mission.

Prior to her decision to join Alba, Ms Regan had served as the community safety minister in the Scottish Government. Her decision to step down from this position last year stemmed from her stance against controversial gender recognition reforms being proposed in Holyrood.

Having contested against prominent figures like Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes for the SNP leadership, she was eliminated from the contest after the initial round of voting, with Yousaf emerging as the victor.

With her new role as Alba's first MSP, Ms Regan has committed herself to taking up a leadership position within the party at Holyrood. She has pledged to refocus efforts on revitalizing the pursuit of Scottish independence, aiming to establish Scotland as a pioneer in living standards, economic resilience, and innovation.

In response the the defection, Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf insists the defection is "“no great loss," as he was not surprised by Ms Regan’s decision to quit and join the rival pro-independence party, set up by former First Minister Alex Salmond. "It is no great loss to the SNP group I have to say, and it is also hardly not a surprise either given Ash’s statements for many months, in fact for longer than that. Ash should do the decent thing, she should resign her seat – she was elected on an SNP ticket."

“I can give you a guarantee that people did not vote for Ash in her constituency because of any personal vote, they voted for her because she had the SNP logo next to her name in the 2021 election. So if she had principles she would do the right thing and resign – but I have to say it is no great loss to the SNP.”

Who is Ash Regan?

MSP Ash Regans attends the Scottish Parliament on March 28, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Humza Yousaf was elected as the new leader of the Scottish National Party yesterday after Nicola Sturgeon resigned in February. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)MSP Ash Regans attends the Scottish Parliament on March 28, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Humza Yousaf was elected as the new leader of the Scottish National Party yesterday after Nicola Sturgeon resigned in February. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
MSP Ash Regans attends the Scottish Parliament on March 28, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Humza Yousaf was elected as the new leader of the Scottish National Party yesterday after Nicola Sturgeon resigned in February. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Ashten Regan, formerly known as Sarah Jane Regan, was born on March 8, 1974, in Biggar, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. She pursued her education at Keele University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. Following her graduation, she gained extensive experience in public relations and marketing in London before returning to Scotland in 2003. 

Her deep involvement in the Scottish independence movement led her to join the SNP, through which she contested and won the Edinburgh Eastern constituency in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. Regan's tenure as the Minister for Community Safety from 2018 to 2022 marked a significant phase in her political career, during which she resigned in protest against the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

In the 2023 Scottish National Party leadership election, Regan announced her candidacy but finished third, receiving 11.1% of the overall vote share. Notable for her outspoken views, she has advocated for policies promoting Scottish independence and has emphasized the importance of aligning political efforts with achieving this goal. Her firm stance on issues such as social and environmental policies has cemented her position as a prominent figure in Scottish politics.

Recognized for her commitment to the cause of Scottish independence, Regan is known for her unwavering dedication to her political principles, advocating for a more comprehensive and strategic approach to achieving independence. She has also expressed her support for environmental initiatives while proposing a reevaluation of existing policies, particularly those concerning the North Sea's oil and gas extraction. Additionally, her career has been marked by her vocal stance on social issues, such as her proposals regarding transgender prisoners and her involvement in campaigns related to women's rights and Scottish autonomy

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