Pauline McNeill

Pauline McNeill
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow
Assumed office
6 May 2016
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Kelvin
In office
6 May 1999  22 March 2011
Preceded by new constituency
Succeeded by Sandra White
Personal details
Born (1962-09-12) 12 September 1962
Political party Scottish Labour Party
Spouse(s) Joseph Cahill
Alma mater Glasgow College of Building and Printing
Occupation Trade unionist
Religion Roman Catholic

Pauline Mary McNeill (born September 12, 1962) is a Labour politician and formerly a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Glasgow Kelvin, Scotland, having been elected in the Scottish Parliament elections in 1999, 2003 and 2007. Although her share of the vote increased by 6% she lost her seat in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, however she returned in 2016 as an MSP for the Glasgow regional list.


She was educated at Our Lady's High School, Cumbernauld, before training as a graphic illustrator at Glasgow College of Building and Printing. She was President of the National Union of Students Scotland from 1986 to 1988 and was subsequently an organiser for the trades-union, GMB Scotland, representing NHS workers, hospitality and factory staff amongst many others.

An active member of the Labour Party since her time in the student movement, McNeill was also an executive committee member of the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly and a committed campaigner for devolution throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

McNeill is married to Joseph Cahill, an advocate, who is a former police officer and Deputy Procurator Fiscal.


During her first term as the MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, she graduated from Strathclyde Law School, after a period combining legislating and night school. In 2007 she narrowly retained the Glasgow Kelvin seat with a reduced majority in the face of fierce public opposition to the national Labour Government's invasion of Iraq, a policy which she opposed.

In politics

McNeill was elected as Glasgow Kelvin’s first-ever Member of the Scottish Parliament on 6 May 1999 and re-elected in 2003 and 2007. Following the elections in May 2007 Pauline McNeill was appointed Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years and subsequently Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Europe, External Affairs and Culture.

In the first term of the new Parliament, 1999–2003, she was elected as Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party before being appointed convener of two of Parliament’s busiest committees, Justice 2 and subsequently Justice 1. As a Justice Committee Convener, McNeill led Parliamentary consideration of:

McNeill's committee also led consideration of reforms to the High Court amongst many other subjects and convened the first ever inquiry into the Crown and Procurator Fiscal Service, and was proud to help deliver justice for asbestos victims in the Court of Session. Her Committee won Committee of the Year at the 2006 Scottish Politician of the Year Awards and in 2005 she received the Equality Network 'Friend for Life' Award for her work on civil partnerships and gender recognition.

McNeill was convener of the Cross Party Group on Contemporary Music, which last year launched the Scottish Live Music Manifesto, and published Britain’s first Live Music Code of Conduct and Live Music Agreement, the purpose of these documents is to improve protection for bands and particularly young musicians from unscrupulous venues, agents and promoters. This work reflects Pauline’s past employment as a band manager and has been unique in uniting many of the key figures in the Scottish live music industry.

Since her student days, McNeill has had a strong interest in international issues. She was the Convener of the Cross Party Group on Palestine, and was a United Nations observer at the 2006 Palestinian Authority elections, later in 2006 she visited Lebanon in the aftermath of the war there, and continues to speak out, both in the Parliament, and at demonstrations, public meetings and protests on the need for a peaceful and just solution in the Middle East. She was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq and campaigned for the right of protesters to picket the Labour Party’s 2003 Spring Conference, which took place at the SECC in her own constituency.

Pauline McNeill was instrumental in the granting of Fair Trade status to the City of Glasgow and walked in the Edinburgh Make Poverty History March when the G8 came to Gleneagles. She opposes the replacement of Britain's Trident nuclear weapons system, and has made her opposition clear in the Scottish Parliament and outside.

She opposes the holding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and has spoken out in favour of the rights of asylum seekers and new migrants. She remains a supporter of many student campaigns, including the successful campaign to elect Israeli dissident, Mordechai Vanunu, as Rector of Glasgow University and takes a keen interest in the welfare of students across the many further and higher institutions located in Glasgow Kelvin. She also campaigned against closures and downgrading (including a 1,600 signature petition) at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill and the Queen Mother's Hospital.

Since her election she has corresponded with almost 15,000 local people and has attended countless meeting across the constituency. Locally, she campaigns on the need for more affordable and social housing, more effective steps to increase recycling take-up and reduce energy usage, better regulation of public transport – specifically the bus industry, improvements to the Glasgow Subway, a more locally accountable planning system, standing up for and improving local sports facilities, creating a safer city centre and the extension of community protections to the West End, better regulation of housing in multiple occupation and supports the campaign to save and restore the Kelvingrove Park Bandstand.

She was awarded the Equality Network's Friend for Life award for her work in ensuring that the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and Gender Recognition Act 2004 legislation passed at the British Government level was compliant with existing Scottish legislation.

McNeill was a member of the following cross-party groups in the Scottish Parliament: Affordable Housing, Cuba, Human Rights, the Scottish Economy, Tobacco Control, Visual Impairment, Refugees and Asylum Seekers and Gaelic (Buidheann Thar Phartaidh na Gàidhlig).


    Scottish Parliament
    Preceded by
    Constituency Created
    Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Kelvin
    Succeeded by
    Sandra White
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