Scottish Parliament Explained 2021

Picture of Holyrood - Priorities for the Scottish Parliament

As part of Holyrood’s Politics Explained series, Scottish Parliament Explained will examine priorities for the new session. This event has become a key part of the calendar for members of the public sector looking for information about Scottish politics and guidance that can help them engage with Scotland’s political institutions.

With a keynote address from Henry McLeish, Former First Minister of Scotland & Chair, Constitutional Steering Group

Why Scottish Parliament Explained, Why Now? 

The newly-elected Scottish Parliament sits at a defining moment in Scottish history. Members – new and old – are tasked with the monumental challenge of shepherding Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19. This vital task has already begun, with the First Minister laying out the priorities for the first 100 days of her government.

From the creation of a National Care Service, to plans for reaching net-zero, Scottish Parliament faces a series of important choices in the months and years ahead. But how will these choices be made on a day-to-day basis? And how can you work with Parliament to shape the outcome of these choices?

The 2021 edition of Scottish Parliament Explained is dedicated to answering these questions, and providing you with the knowledge and expertise to participate in the legislative process more effectively.

Whether you’re new to all this or an old hand, we’ve got you covered  

For those who are learning the ropes, we will cover all the basics – giving you the real inside scoop, looking at how parliament works, the legislative process; what an MSP and their office does and how you can influence and help shape the political agenda. 

We will also host broader strategic level discussions, featuring the high-calibre speakers that have become a feature of Holyrood’s Politics Explained series. Our experts will consider what the parliament actually does, what it’s for,  how it plans to modernise to ensure it reflects the values and aspirations of the nation and what its priorities are as we emerge from the health and economic crises. 

If you wish to understand more about politics in Scotland and the centre-piece of our devolved democracy; learn how you can influence the political agenda or simply attend a bespoke event dedicated to Scottish politics that features some of the main players on the political stage, past, present and future hosted by a reputable public affairs events organisation, then do join us for this flagship conference. 

Politics Explained Series

Holyrood is Scotland’s leading political communications organisation, our our Politics Explained events, running since 2007, help inform the public sector about Scottish politics so they may engage optimally with our political institutions.

Following the most important Scottish parliamentary election in the history of devolution, Holyrood presents a series of events that will comprehensively cover everything you need or want to know about Scottish politics, politicians, political institutions and the changed landscape.  Throughout 2021 and 2022, the events across the series will include: Scottish Government Explained, Local Government Explained, Scotland’s Identity and Constitution Explained and our ‘Detail of Devolution’ mini series.

This event is CPD certified in principle

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Niamh Burns
The Scottish Parliament
Martin Whitfield MSP
Scottish Parliament & CPG
Professor James Mitchell Headshot
Prof. James Mitchell
University of Edinburgh
David McGill Headshot
David McGill
The Scottish Parliament
Andy Maciver Headshot
Andy Maciver
Message Matters
Prof. Richard Finlay
University of Strathclyde
Christine O’Neill
Brodies LLP
Ken Macintosh Headshot
Ken Macintosh
Scottish Parliament
Henry McLeish Headshot
Henry McLeish
Former First Minister of Scotland
Henry McLeish is a Scottish politician, author and academic who served as First Minister of Scotland from 2000 to 2001.
Gillian Martin MSP
The Scottish Parliament
Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, which has been leading on the Climate Change Bill.

The Scottish Parliament opened in 1999 with great expectations that it could deliver a new form of politics. In this session, we will examine what the recent election tells us about whether this promise has been fulfilled, and whether the crisis of the pandemic offers the opportunity for further reform.

Introduction to the Scottish Parliament

David McGill, Chief Executive, The Scottish Parliament

How did we get here?

Professor James Mitchell, Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Edinburgh

Questions and Discussion

The Scottish Parliament is now recognised by the public as the focal point of political life in Scotland.  In this session, we will undertake a root-and-branch review of the Scottish Parliament to help you understand how it works and how you can achieve your desired policy outcomes.

The Beginning of the End? The Legislative Process

Senior representative, parliament

The Engine Room of Democracy? The Role and Utility of the Scottish Committee System

Convener/clerk, committee

A Time to Talk: The Essence of Parliament - Cross-Party Groups

Convener, CPG

Questions and Discussion

This session will give you the inside-scoop on the role of MSPs and their staff; their responsibilities and powers; and how you can engage with them effectively. This will be achieved via a session led by an experienced MSP and their staffer.

A Day in the Life of…an MSP

A Day in the Life of…an MSP’s staffer

Questions and Discussion

Political intelligence and knowing who to engage with, and how, are essential tools in the political communication toolbox. This session will equip you to navigate the parliamentary landscape. We aim to offer practical advice and guidance to individuals and organisations wishing to influence policy makers, and contribute to legislative change in Scotland.

Several prominent female MSPs stood down at the last election, citing a poor work-life balance in parliament. 

Drawing on lessons from the past year, as well as the experiences within elected assemblies in other countries, this session will discuss how Scotland can retain a cutting-edge modern parliament that removes barriers to equality  The session will also examine how Parliament elevate the role of the citizen and bring Parliament closer to those it serves. 

Moving on to our closing panel, we will discuss the priorities for the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament as an institution and how, in the epoch-defining times in which we live, the parliament can be at the helm of driving transformative change with big answers to big challenges as we move into the mid-21st century. 

Making a Modern Parliament


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    • Start Date
      26 Aug 2021 10:00 am
    • End Date
      26 Aug 2021 3:00 pm
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