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Former Scottish Labour MEP Catherine Stihler awarded OBE

The ex-politician said she is immensely proud to receive the ‘unexpected recognition’.

Catherine Stihler, who served as a Scottish MEP from 1999 to 2019 (Scottish Labour/PA)
Catherine Stihler, who served as a Scottish MEP from 1999 to 2019 (Scottish Labour/PA)

Former Labour MEP Catherine Stihler has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her service to politics.

Ms Stihler served as a Scottish MEP for 20 years, having first been elected in 1999 at the age of 25.

She announced that she would be standing down as an MEP at the end of January this year – ahead of the original due date for the UK to leave the European Union.

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David Martin (left) and former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray (centre) join Catherine Stihler (right) at a Labour Euro election campaign event in 2009 (Danny Lawson/PA)

Following her resignation, Ms Stihler took up a role as the chief executive of global non-profit organisation Open Knowledge Foundation in February.

Ms Stihler was born in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, and educated at Coltness High School before studying at the University of St Andrews, where she gained an MA with joint honours in international relations and geography and a postgraduate MLitt in international security studies.

Before becoming an MEP, she served as president of St Andrews University Students Association in the 1994/1995 term, and worked as a political researcher to Labour MP Anne Begg between 1997 and 1999.

While she was a postgraduate student, Ms Stihler also stood in the Angus constituency at the 1997 general election; however, the seat was won by the SNP’s candidate, Andrew Welsh.

In the 1999 European Parliament election, Ms Stihler was placed third on the Labour list for Scotland.

After being elected under the d’Hondt electoral system, she became the youngest UK MEP at 25 years old.

Ms Stihler was re-elected as an MEP for Scotland in 2004 and 2009, and served as vice-chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.

During her time on the committee, she worked on digital policy, prioritising the digital single market, digital skills, better accessibility of digital products for the disabled, as well as citizen online data protection and privacy.

As leader and founder of the All-Party Library Group, she also promoted and advocated for the importance of libraries and how libraries can remain relevant in the new digital age.

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Catherine Stihler speaks with then Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell (left) and Chancellor Gordon Brown (centre) at a campaign event in 2006 (PA)

“I am immensely proud to receive this unexpected recognition,” said Ms Stihler.

“When I entered the European Parliament as Britain’s youngest MEP 20 years ago it was because I believed in public service as a force for good. I still passionately believe that today.

“Our political discourse can sometimes be soured by disinformation and lies, but the overwhelming majority of people who choose public service do so to improve lives for their communities.

“I hope I have been a relatable role model for young women, and I will work to inspire more young women from across Europe to choose public service and transform lives for the next generation.”

PA

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