Political professionals won two out of three of Scotland’s Westminster seats last week.

An analysis of the backgrounds of the country’s 57 MPs show 39 of them - fully 68% - did at least some paid work in politics before their first election to the House of Commons.

That is up from 37 of the 59 or 63% of Scottish representatives in London at the last general election in 2019. 

Politics has become increasingly professionalised in recent years. 

Parties often chose Westminster and Holyrood candidates - at least in winnable seats - from a pool of people who already have hands-on experience as councillors, special advisors, constituency workers or think-tankers.

That does not mean all of these political professionals have not done other work in their lives. Because many of them have. 

But the latest intake of MPs includes people whose entire careers have been in public life. 

SNP survivors Kirsty Blackman and Stephen Flynn - who both represent Aberdeen -  have spent almost all their adult lives in politics, honing their skills on their city’s council.

Some of their new Labour colleagues, despite never being in the House of Commons before, are also anything but political novices.

Blair McDougall, the new MP for East Renfrewshire, has worked in politics since a break from university turned in to career. 

He is perhaps best known as the chief executive of Better Together, the winning pro-union campaign during the 2014 independence referendum.

McDougall has never won an election before - except, he jokes, to be head boy of his old school, Woodfarm High. 

But the new MP has worked as a special advisor and campaign manager and - most recently - helped communities in former dictatorships and conflict zones to build democracy.

His colleague Gregor Poynton has also built a career in politics without being elected before. 


The the new MP for Livingston has huge experience running campaigns, for Labour and other progressive causes at home and abroad. 

He has also provided strategic communications advice to corporations. 

Kirsty McNeill, the new MP for Midlothian and junior Scotland Office minister, is no stranger to Whitehall. She was a special advisor to Gordon Brown when he was in No 10 and then worked for the former prime minister’s office. 

McNeill went on to use her political skills to lead on policy and campaigns for one of Britain’s most important charities, Save the Children.

Another new Labour MP who has enjoyed a career in politics before Westminster is Frank McNally. 

The new member for Coatbridge and Bellshill combined a long stint in local government with working for local Labour MSPs. McNally was elected a councillor at 24 and made the education convener of North Lanakshire at 28, developing a scheme providing free food to children year-round.

His fellow Lanarkshire MP Pamela Nash is also very much a career politician. Nash, who represents Motherwell, Wishaw and Carluke, served in the Commons before the SNP landslide of 2015. 

She spent some of her time out of elected office leading Scotland in Union, a cross-party pro-UK campaign.

Another political professional, in theory at least, is Falkirk MP Euan Stainbank, one of the youngest new faces in the House of Commons. The recent graduate has been a Falkirk councillor since 2022.