Born and brought up in Ayrshire, Katy Clark has battled inside and outside Parliament for the people of the West of Scotland. She joined the Labour Party in the 1980s at a time when thousands of Ayrshire miners were fighting to keep their jobs. She was active in campaigns for women’s rights, against nuclear weapons, the poll tax and the first Gulf War; and in the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties.
She qualified as a solicitor working in private practice before moving to become the Head of Membership Legal Services at the trade union UNISON. In her time at the union, she won Europe’s biggest equal pay case leading to £35 million in back pay being paid to female NHS staff in Cumbria and helping to change the pay structures in the NHS.
She was elected as Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran in 2005. She was a founding member of the Scottish Labour Campaign for Socialism. In Parliament, she championed human rights , voting against ID cards and replacing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system. She campaigned within her constituency, opposing the contracting out of lifeline ferry services in the West of Scotland, for support for workers at the terminated Simclar factory and for decent funding for public services. She worked to secure improvements to employment legislation, consumer law and against the privatisation of services. She has been involved in many human rights and civil liberties issues, taking up cases both here and abroad.
She was endorsed by several trade unions and a majority of affiliated members when standing to be Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour in 2014, picking up an overall 37% of the vote as runner-up to Kezia Dugdale. After losing her seat in 2015, Katy was a key strategist on Jeremy Corbyn’s victorious Labour leadership campaign several months later. She was appointed Political Secretary in his office and led the Party’s Democracy Review in 2018, with a view to giving members a greater say and making the party more representative.
She was appointed as a Peer in the House of Lords in 2020, entering on a platform of supporting abolition of the Lords, which she also voted to abolish as a MP. She took a leave of absence from the House of Lords after being elected as a regional MSP for the West of Scotland in May 2021.