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Susan Deacon Life after Holyrood

AT A RECENT social gathering the lawyer and Labour stalwart Ian Smart brandished his glass and said: “Look at Susan there — once too Left-wing to be selected as a candidate for the Scottish Parliament, now a Commander of the British Empire, Professor at the University of Edinburgh and chair of the Institute of Directors in Scotland.”

When put as bluntly as that, it’s certainly striking. Especially given that for most who have climbed then descended the greasy pole, life after politics can be a motley experience — perhaps a seat on the red benches of the Lords (some parties), worthy work in the Third Sector (mostly Labour), a few company directorships (mainly Tories), freelance journalism peddling opinion pieces (all parties), and in one recent celebrated SNP case, performing a comedy turn at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Susan Deacon opted out of politics ten years ago, and none of her moves since then have seemed forced or desperate, but neither have they been precisely calibrated. She has gone with her instincts. The CV brandished above by her friend is true but less than the full truth. Deacon is actually much more interesting than that, having always sought out what she calls “the inbetween areas” — whether in politics, higher education, business or social policy. It’s where she has always wanted to be, at the interface where leadership enables and inspires positive change.

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