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EDITIONS
Donald Dewar Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Henry McLeish?
Henry McLeish graphic
The hot favourite was a former professional footballer

Name: Henry McLeish

Born: Fife

Age: 52

Education: BA (Hons) urban planning from Heriot-Watt University

MSP for: Fife Central and MP for Fife Central

Position: Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning


Scotland's Enterprise Minister Henry McLeish is the oldest of the two candidates and is thought be in pole position to win any contest.

He was effectively Donald Dewar's political deputy - but without the title.

Mr McLeish's experience far outweighs that of his Jack McConnell and many in the party consider him to be the front runner.

The former professional footballer cut his political teeth in Fife in the early 1970s.

After working his way through the echelons of Kirkcaldy District Council and Fife Regional Council, he was elected MP for Fife Central in 1987 - a seat he has held ever since.

Tourism sign
Tourism is part of Mr McLeish's current brief
It is his experience at Westminster which allows him to stand out.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Mr McLeish was a shadow spokesman for several portfolios, including transport, health and social security.

He was a devolution minister in the former Scottish Office, and played a key role in delivering Scotland's first parliament in almost 300 years.

The politician has union backing, but unlike Jack McConnell he does not have the ground-swell of support among the constituency parties and MPs and MSPs.

The father-of-four is seen as ambitious and is regarded as a competent parliamentary performer.

Party backing

But he lacks the Dewar common touch and lacks rapport with backbench Labour MSPs.

Nevertheless, the affirmed Blairite is believed to have the backing of the powers-that-be nationally.

His current portfolio - minister for enterprise and lifelong learning - has given him a lower profile than other Scottish ministers but he has handled its largely technical content well and is thought to be popular among civil servants.

Mr McLeish has overall responsibility for bodies like Scottish Enterprise, the tourism sector, and delivering Labour's "new deal" welfare-to-work programme.

Exams chaos

He also plays a key role within the education sector.

However, the minister was carefully shielded from any fallout over this year's exam results chaos.

Fellow Scottish Cabinet member Sam Galbraith took nearly all of the flak.

In the mid 1990s his personal life was touched by tragedy.

His first wife died of stomach cancer in the mid-1990s just 19 days after it was diagnosed, leaving him to raise their two children, a boy and a girl, now in their 20s.

In 1998, at the time that most other Labour MPs were celebrating their first year in government at Westminster, he married for the second time.

His bride was Julie Fulton, a social worker for Fife Council, and they married in St Andrews.

See also:

29 Jun 00 | Scotland
27 Apr 00 | Scotland
09 Dec 99 | Scotland
Internet links:


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