People of Midlothian: Provost Debbi McCall

Thursday February 23rd 2023


Midlothian Council Provost Debbi McCall.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Katie Gregory

In the first of a series of feature interviews with prominent people in Midlothian reporter Katie Gregory met with the Provost.

In May of 2022, SNP Councillor Debbi McCall was elected as the Midlothian Council Provost. Council Leader Kelly Parry nominated McCall and the vote was unanimous. Unbeknownst to us all, only months four months after her election – Provost McCall would stand outside the Dalkeith Corn Exchange and proclaim King Charles III as the new sovereign. This would be a defining moment for Provost McCall, as 300 locals gathered for the ceremony. Although this was certainly unexpected for her, Provost McCall took this in her stride and used the opportunity to show her strong and unwavering dedication to Midlothian.

Prior to her political career, McCall worked as a Welfare Rights Officer. Her job choice suggests that even before she worked as a Councillor, McCall wanted to support those who needed it the most. While studying at Stirling University in 2013, academic work was paired with personal reflection for McCall as she contemplated her political position and beliefs. With 2008 Labour frequently using the term “scroungers” – it was becoming increasingly difficult for McCall to differentiate between Labour and Tory rhetoric. After the 2014 Independence Referendum and careful consideration of her personal beliefs, McCall joined Women For Independence and then the SNP.

McCall was elected as Councillor for Penicuik in May of 2017 and has a close relationship with her constituents. When asked how she balances her responsibilities as Provost of Midlothian and Councillor for Penicuik – McCall explained how she sees the two as completely separate and it is clear she views both positions as equally important. As the interview continues, it becomes evidently clear why her constituents feel comfortable addressing their concerns to her – as her understanding nature is paired with a drive for change.

“I have had a long-running battle with Lothian buses about the return of the number 15 bus. Roads, lines on the roads and potholes are what the vast majority of people want to talk to me about”.

However, this motivation for change is not limited to transport, as McCall discusses diversity within Scottish politics. McCall praises the women around her; including Council Leader Kelly Parry, the first Female Provost Eleanor Mcloughin and the first Female Provost for Dumfries and Galloway, Tracey Little. Provost McCall also values intersectionality greatly and encourages all members of her community to get involved in local-level politics.

“We want representation from disabled people and ethnic minorities. We need to reflect our community.”

Furthermore, McCall talks of Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson – politicians who have conflicting beliefs but are positive role models for young women nonetheless. Following in their footsteps, McCall, Parry and Little could be just the role models needed for the next generation of Scottish women in politics.

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