John Finnie is the Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands region. He is the Scottish Green Party spokesperson on Justice, Transport, Tourism and Rural & Island Communities and serves on the Justice Committee and the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee of the Scottish Parliament. John is a member of Amnesty International and Scottish CND, and a fan of traditional Scottish music and Hearts FC. He lives in Inverness.
John was born and brought up at Clunes, nr Fort William, attended Achnacarry Primary and Lochaber and Oban High Schools and worked at a variety of jobs before joining the police in Leith in 1976.
During a 30 year police career, John served in Leith, at the single-officer station at Kirkhill, was a dog-handler and spent the last 14 years of his service as a full-time elected official of the Scottish Police Federation, retiring in 2006.
In 2007 John was elected as the Scottish National Party (SNP) Councillor for Inverness Ness-side Ward on Highland Council and shortly thereafter was elected as Leader of the 17 strong SNP Council Group.
John led the SNP into the first political administration on Highland Council and worked with Independent Members until the coalition ended in the summer of 2008 at which time John became Leader of the Opposition, declining the additional salary the post attracts.
In 2011 John was elected to the Scottish Parliament as one of the regional list Members for the Highlands and Islands and retained his Council seat – refusing the Councillor’s salary – until the Council elections of May 2012.
In the Scottish Parliament John was appointed to the Justice and Equal Opportunities Committees and made Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice. John was also elected Convener of the Cross Party Group on Human Rights and Co-convener of the Cross Party Group on Drugs and Alcohol.
At the Scottish National Party’s October 2012 Conference the Party voted to overturn its long-standing opposition to membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and, following this decision John resigned from the SNP designating himself ‘Independent’.
Speaking of this significant decision John said;
“In 2011 the public voted for the SNP in their droves and, as a regional List Member of the Scottish Parliament, I was elected on the Party’s manifesto rather than on any personal vote.
“The Scottish people are passionate about removing Trident missiles from Scotland and I firmly believe that task has been made all the harder by the Party’s decision to join NATO, a first strike nuclear alliance, a decision taken without reference to the public.
“I could not with a clear conscience promote membership of a first strike nuclear alliance with its weapons of widespread, indiscriminate civilian slaughter and, forty years after joining the SNP reluctantly took the decision to leave the Party.
“I remain committed to manifesto I campaigned for in 2011 and the cause of Scottish independence and I will work with those of all parties and none in the ‘Yes’ campaign to secure a historic victory in 2014.”
In October 2014, John joined the Scottish Green Party advising that, although he was remaining an Independent MSP, in the interests of openness and transparency he expects in public service, he was making his membership known.
Speaking after joining the Greens, John said:
“I am delighted to have been accepted as a member of the Scottish Green Party and to be part of the ‘green surge’ which has seen membership soar four fold.
“My decision to join the Green Party will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. My hope would have been to be a Green member in an independent Scotland but that will have to wait another wee while as we continue to fight for social and environmental justice.”
With Jean Urquhart and Margo MacDonald, and the two Green MSPs Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnston, John founded the 5-strong Independent-Green or ‘Grindy’ group in the Scottish Parliament, which was later joined by former SNP MSP John Wilson after the tragic loss of Margo in April 2014.
John was re-elected to the Scottish Parliament for a second term – his first as a Green MSP – on 5 May 2016. He said:
“I’d like to send my sincerest thanks to voters of the Highlands and Islands who have re-elected me for second term as an MSP; my first term as a Green.
“I’m delighted the Highlands and Islands once again have Green representation after a nine-year gap. With 6 MSPs across Scotland, the Greens have leapfrogged the Liberal Democrats to become the fourth party at Holyrood. This puts us in a strong position to push for action on priorities for the North, such as affordable and social housing, land reform, creating jobs in new industries and fighting austerity cuts.
“It is a huge honour to represent the people of the Highlands and Islands, one which I will never take lightly. I’m looking forward to five more years of hard work for a socially and environmentally just, peaceful, welcoming and independent Scotland.”