A retiring north-east MSP described his 20 years at Holyrood as the “greatest honour of his life” as he made his final parliamentary address – paying tribute to those he was elected to serve.
Stewart Stevenson, who has represented constituents in Banffshire and Buchan since 2001, is to retire ahead of the election in May.
The SNP member‘s valedictory speech in the Scottish Parliament came as part of a debate on the government’s climate change plan.
In what was his 853rd address since first being elected in 2001, Mr Stevenson said he would continue to remain passionate about climate change and called for work to ensure a transition from oil and gas which would ensure an equal jobs market.
He also called for support for other countries across the globe who would be impacted by the western world’s use of fossil fuels and its global impact on climate change.
Mr Stevenson, a former IT worker with the Bank of Scotland, had been a member of the SNP for 40 years before his election.
He first made it to Holyrood as MSP for Banff and Buchan but has represented the rejigged Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency since the 2011 boundary changes.
Resignation as transport minister after snow stopped Scotland
Mr Stevenson also served as transport minister between 2007 and the end of 2010, when he resigned after heavy snowfall ground the country to a halt.
Hundreds were stranded overnight in their cars on wintry motorways.
But he was again appointed as a minister – this time covering the environment and climate change brief – after the election the following year.
At that 2011 election and the preceding 2007, Mr Stevenson set records for the largest winning majority and highest share of votes cast in a constituency, during the SNP’s purple patch in the north-east.
Stewart Stevenson MSP: ‘Greatest honour of my life’ to serve
Last night Mr Stevenson said: “It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve as the MSP for Banff and Buchan and latterly Banffshire and Buchan Coast.
“My time in the Scottish Parliament has never had a dull moment and I have been honoured to represent the Scottish Government as both the Minister for Environment and Climate Change and the Minister for Transport.
“I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues past and present – both those who have gone on to other things and those who are sadly no longer with us.”
During his speech, Mr Stevenson paid tribute to a number of colleagues including former Scottish Conservatives MSPs Alex Fergusson and Alex Johnstone who “departed before their time”.
He announced his imminent retirement last year, but will remain involved with the SNP as the party’s newly-elected national secretary.
A keen genealogist, he left the parliament with a lesson on his family tree – from lords, to former lord provosts to serving MSPs – delivering in his trademark, sesquipedalian, style.
‘People of Banffshire and Buchan made this job what it is’
Afterwards, he paid tribute to his constituency, saying: “The role of an MSP is to challenge and change and represent the people of your constituency with determination to improve their lives for the better.
“We should encourage more people from all walks of life to pursue a role in politics including the continued encouragement of women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities so that the parliament is one which represents us all.
“I know I leave the Scottish Parliament in good hands in the pursuit of a fairer, more equal society for all and one that we can be proud to leave for the future generations to come.
“To the people of Banffshire and Buchan Coast who have made this job what it is I would like to say thank you and farewell for now.”