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Donald Dewar Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Tributes flood in
Donald Dewar
Warm tribute has been paid to Mr Dewar
Tributes have been paid to Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar, who has died following a brain haemorrhage.

Mr Dewar, who underwent heart surgery earlier this year, was taken ill after a fall outside his official residence in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

He had continued working but was taken to hospital after complaining of feeling unwell.

Doctors said his condition rapidly deteriorated and a further examination revealed internal bleeding inside his head.

There was great shock among his friends, colleagues and political counterparts when Mr Dewar took ill and the seriousness of his condition became apparent.

Reaction has come from all quarters:

Foreign secretary Robin Cook described Mr Dewar's death as "a tragedy for Donald and a tragedy for Scotland."

He said: "I hope one of the things that will be remembered about Donald is what an immensely humane, kind, generous, good companion he was.

"That is why Donald, perhaps unusually in our profession, had no enemies, as simple as that, among other parties, among people of no parties.

"The Scottish Parliament will always be a lasting memorial to his life, to his long commitment to secure it."

Henry McLeish, enterprise minister and in effect Mr Dewar's political deputy during his earlier period of ill health, said: "This is a day of enormous sadness for Scotland and for me personally.

Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish: "Donald was devolution"
"Donald was devolution. The architect of the most successful constitutional change this century.

"It was a privilege to work so closely with him on the Scotland Act.

"A person of unique qualities he had a great sense of humour, a sharp wit, real integrity and passionate love of sport, especially football, which I share.

"A great loss - but Donald has left a great legacy."

David McLetchie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said he was "deeply shocked and saddened" by Mr Dewar's death.

He said: "Donald Dewar was a towering figure in Scottish political life, which has been graced by his contribution for over 30 years.

"He was a man of integrity blessed with a great intellect and a formidable parliamentarian.

"His political life found fulfilment in the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and it was fitting that he should have been our First Minister."

Robin Harper, the Parliament's only Green Party MSP, said: "However much one may on occasion have disagreed with Donald, I have never felt anything other than the greatest respect for his commitment to the best possible future for Scotland.

"I know he will be remembered by friends as warm, friendly and with a sharp sense of humour."

Scottish Deputy First Minister and leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Jim Wallace, said the country had lost a "remarkable leader".

Mr Wallace added: "Donald Dewar was passionate about his politics he loved the cut and thrust of intellectual debate, but above all he was passionate in his concerns for people and for social justice.

Jim Wallace
JIm Wallace: Acting First Minister
"Donald was the kind of person who gives politics a good name.

"The Scottish Parliament, which he tirelessly worked for, delivered and led, is his legacy.

"Its beneficiaries are not only the people of Scotland today, but for generations to come. In anyone's book, that marks a lifetime of achievement.

"I have known Donald for the best part of 20 years, most of that time as a formidable and much respected political opponent, and latterly as a partner in government.

"Like so many in Scottish politics, ally and opponent alike, I have been on the receiving end of his waspish wit, so honed and well-directed that even when made at your own expense, you had to laugh at yourself.

"Over the last year and a half, when I had the privilege of working closely with Donald, I saw at first hand his ability to inspire commitment, loyalty and affection among those who worked with him, both at a political and official level."

Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan said: "Donald Dewar and I had profound political disagreements on a whole range of issues."

Mr Sheridan added: "Despite these differences, I am saddened by his tragically premature death.

"The Scottish Socialist Party offers condolences to his daughter and son, Marion and Ian, and to his friends."

Scotland's top civil servant paid tribute to Mr Dewar on behalf of his Scottish colleagues.

Muir Russell, Scottish Executive permanent secretary, said: "I and my colleagues in the Scottish Executive and its associated departments and agencies are shocked and saddened at the death of the First Minister.

"We extend our sympathy to his family.

"All of us have found it a privilege to work for Donald Dewar, a man of wisdom, humanity and integrity, at a time of momentous change for Scotland with which he was so strongly personally associated.

"He inspired huge loyalty and affection among those who worked with him, and will be sorely missed."

Scottish Transport Minister Sarah Boyack said Mr Dewar's legacy would be the Scottish Parliament.

"He supported home rule when it was not in vogue and was instrumental in persuading the Labour Party to be whole-hearted in its support for establishing the Parliament.

"His passion was what we could do to improve people's lives - he devoted his life to making it happen."

The Scottish Executive's Communities Minister Wendy Alexander said: "Donald Dewar was a Labour man through and through.

Wendy Alexander
Ms Alexander: "He was a Labour man through and through"
"Social justice was his creed, with Scotland always in his heart.

"I can put it no better than the woman in his Glasgow constituency who once said to me: 'The thing about Donald is that there is not a person in Scotland who doesn't know that when he sits down at his desk every morning, he has the best interests of Scotland at heart'.

"In every street he was just known as Donald. That says so much about the man and his beliefs.

"We loved him and we will all miss him terribly."

Scottish Finance Minister Jack McConnell said: "Scotland has lost a good friend. Donald Dewar was of Scotland, and always for Scotland.

"He is irreplaceable and his family's grief is shared today not only by the Labour Party but by all Scots too.

"Our parliament will be a legacy which ensures he is never forgotten, and as we seek to create social justice, he will always be in our minds."

Scottish Education Minister Sam Galbraith, said: "I can't find any words other than the way he always reminded us that politics was about getting rid of poverty, and no-one should be born to fail.

"This, coupled with his decency, honesty, loyalty and modesty have made him one of Scotland's greatest politicians and one of Scotland's greatest men. We shall not see his like again."

Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid said: "Donald Dewar's death has come as a shock to us all, especially as he seemed to be on the road to recovery following heart surgery earlier in the year.

"It is not surprising that despite Donald's fall yesterday his first reaction was to pick himself up, dust himself down and get back to work.

"For those of us lucky enough to have known him well over many years, this typifies his character and determination.

John Reid
John Reid: Mr Dewar was a "father figure"
"His commitment and dedication was not just to politics but to the core issues that he believed underscores them.

"He was a passionate believer in social justice, tolerance and equality as well as the basic human values of honesty, integrity and trust.

"No-one who has ever worked with Donald could fail to have been impressed by his capacity to get through work, the clarity of his vision and above all his determination to achieve the goals he set himself.

"He will perhaps best be remembered in the public eye as the man who finally delivered a Scottish Parliament, thus fulfilling the dreams and ambitions of generations of Scots.

"To be remembered as the 'father of the nation' is a fitting tribute but I will always fondly remember his quick wit, ready smile and kindness.

"I feel privileged to be able to look back over the many years that I have shared with Donald both as a friend and a colleague.

"I am sure that I reflect the view of all Scots in saying that his passing is a great loss to Scotland and UK politics as a whole.

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends."

Scottish Health Minister Susan Deacon described Mr Dewar as "a one off".

She said: "He delivered more for Scotland in a year than most politicians have in a life time. He achieved so much and yet asked for so little in return.

"Scotland has not just lost a leader - we have lost a friend."

Former leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, said he would miss Mr Dewar, "miss the debates and miss the arguments".

"This is desperately sad. All our thoughts are with Donald's friends and family at this particularly difficult time for them," he told BBC Scotland.

He praised Mr Dewar for his decision in 1997 to campaign with the SNP for devolution.

Mr Salmond added: "After so many near misses and disappointments that was a key decision."

Minister for Parliament Tom McCabe said Mr Dewar's contribution to Scotland was immense.

"We have lost a friend and a colleague and a man who sought, through consensus, to make life better for all Scots, especially the most disadvantaged. He will be sadly missed."

An emotional Sir David Steel said he would prefer to leave his personal tribute to the Scottish Parliament.

He did add: "He is a terrible loss to Scotland - we have much to be greatdul fo his life."

The Scottish Tory deputy leader Annabel Goldie said she had been "deeply saddened" to hear of Mr Dewar's illness.

She added: "Donald Dewar is a towering figure in Scottish politics and the current situation is a matter of profound concern.

"I am sure I speak for everyone in the Scottish Parliament when I say that our thoughts are very much with his family at this extremely difficult time."

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell, a friend of Mr Dewar's since they were students together in Glasgow, said: "Donald Dewar's death has left an aching void in the hearts of his friends and the whole of Scotland.

"The country has lost one of its finest politicians this century and Scottish life is diminished as a result.

"It will be a long time before we see his like again."

Click on the stories to find out more

Key stories

The tributes

Filling the void


See also:

11 Oct 00 | Scotland
11 Oct 00 | Scotland
10 Oct 00 | Scotland
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