Ashten Regan is a Scottish politician who served as Minister for Community Safety from 2018 until 2022, when she stepped down in a protest over the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. A member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), she has been the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Edinburgh Eastern since 2016. On 18 February 2023, Regan announced her candidacy for Leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland.
Early political involvement
At a dinner party in 2012, Regan was asked by guests for her opinion on the 2014 Scottish independence vote. Her then husband, who was born in England, assumed Regan would vote 'No'; however, after she conducted research she had found herself to be more leaning towards the 'Yes' movement.
Regan joined Women for Independence and was active in the Yes Scotland campaign. In January 2014, she was elected to the national committee for Women for Independence. She recalled being “really passionate about Scotland becoming an independent country – I felt the arguments were really strong and I wanted Scotland to have more democratic choice”. Regan was an events co-ordinator for YES Scottish Borders.
Election to Holyrood
Following the defeat of the Yes Scotland campaign in the referendum, Regan joined the Scottish National Party. In August 2015, she was selected as the SNP candidate for the Edinburgh Eastern constituency in the upcoming 2016 Scottish Parliament elections after the incumbent MSP Kenny MacAskill, had announced in June that he would not stand for re-election. She was elected, defeating the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale.
In June 2016, Regan was appointed as Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs. She was a member of the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee and the Finance and Constitution Committee. In November 2017, she was moved from the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work committee to the Health and Sport Committee, where she was appointed deputy convener.
Community safety minister (2018–2022)
On 27 June 2018, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that she would perform a cabinet reshuffle of her second government. Sturgeon appointed Regan as the Minister for Community Safety, succeeding Annabelle Ewing.
In April 2019, Regan was one of 15 SNP politicians who signed a public letter calling on the Scottish government to delay reform to the Gender Recognition Act, which would make it easier for transgender people to legally change their gender. Later that month, an exchange between Regan and fellow SNP MSPs Gillian Martin and Ruth Maguire was leaked. In it, they expressed frustration at Nicola Sturgeon and claimed she was out of step with the SNP group.
In June 2019, it was reported that a number of her ex-employees received pay-offs worth thousands of pounds and some signed non-disclosure agreements.
In the 2021 Scottish elections, Regan was re-elected, this time increasing her vote share by more than 8,000. Sturgeon reappointed Regan as community safety minister in the third Sturgeon government.
On 27 October 2022 Regan resigned, citing concerns over the Scottish Government's support for the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. Elena Whitham succeeded her as Minister for Community Safety in November, subject to parliamentary approval.