Michael Marra: Labour MSP picked as ‘One to watch’

Labour’s Michael Marra has been picked as ‘One to Watch’ as The Herald’s Scottish Politician of the Year Awards, in association with ScottishPower.

Mr Marra was selected for his assured ascent at Holyrood and powerful contributions in the chamber, according to the judging panel.

The MSP has only been at Holyrood for two years but is already attracting attention as a competent politician.

Sadly, he was unable to attend the awards following the passing of his mother Eileen on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Dame Jackie Baillie named Herald Scottish Politician of the Year

Mr Marra paid tribute to his parent on social media, saying: “My wonderful mum Eileen Marra passed away yesterday. The blessing of my life is to have known the depth of her love.

“Blisteringly honest. Achingly funny. A teacher, a reader. So, so intelligent. My Dad’s best friend of 50 years. Above all else a Mum and Gran. God, we loved her.”

A former councillor in his native Dundee, Marra was elected in 2001 on the North East Scotland list and was immediately appointed the party’s Education and Skills spokesperson.

He is the nephew and namesake of the celebrated Dundee folk singer, the late Michael Marra.

Our award is the second time he has been recognised as a newcomer with potential – having won the Holyrood Magazine “One For The Watching” award in 2001.

The brother of former Scottish Labour MSP, Mr Marra took on the role of Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance this year.

In charge of Labour’s policy platform for the 2026 election, he will be key to whether the party can graduate from interesting opposition to government-in-waiting.

The North East MSP beat hard-hitting Tory justice spokesman Russell Findlay and the SNP minister on drug and alcohol policy, Elena Whitham.

Among his achievements has been a high-profile campaign to raise awareness of the risk of Alzheimer’s disease among footballers, and for it to be to be classed as an industrial disease.

A study carried out for the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association in 2019 discovered that there was a five-fold increase in Alzheimer’s disease among the former players.

Mr Marra had said: “The Scottish Government must recognise that these injuries are a form of industrial disease and allow these players to access the support they need, and deserve.”

READ MORE: In pictures – The Herald Scottish Politician of the Year award winners

He has also been prepared to fight his own corner, reportedly speaking out within his own party over Sir Keir Starmer’s proposal to ban new licenses for drilling in the North Sea.

Mr Marra was also given special dispensation to miss the vote at the Scottish parliament on gender reform, after failing to agree with his party’s decision to back the bill.

While he agreed with it in principle, he said that it needed amendment and could not vote for it in its current form.