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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Profile: Dr John Reid
A man on the rise
Dr John Reid is a man whose name is usually in the frame when it comes to ministerial promotion.

So it was no surprise that he was appointed as Labour chairman in the reshuffle sparked by Estelle Morris' resignation as education secretary.

Highly regarded at Westminster, Dr Reid is also among those talked about as possible prime ministers of the future.


He has risen quickly up the political pecking order

He is regarded as a skilful operator and a safe pair of hands who will now lead Labour towards next year's round of regional and local elections.

Dr Reid leaves Northern Ireland, where he was the first Roman Catholic to take on the post of secretary of state.

He has risen quickly up the political pecking order.

After Labour's general election victory in 1997 he was made armed forces minister before moving to transport.

He was then promoted to the post of Scottish secretary in 1999 after the Scottish parliamentary elections.

At the last major reshuffle, despite being tipped to become the UK's defence secretary, Dr Reid was left to handle politics north of the Border at a tricky time both professionally and personally.

Popular

He then moved to Northern Ireland after the resignation of Peter Mandelson.

His arrival in Belfast after high profile figures such as Mr Mandelson and Mo Mowlam led him to be known as "Dr Who".

But his performance in Northern Ireland, for all the difficulties he faced, has not reduced his standing in Downing Street.

Dr Reid is viewed by many of his colleagues as one of the most popular and colourful characters in politics.

His close friend, Des Brown, MP for Kilmarnock and Louden, describes him as a "safe pair of hands" who is "quick-witted".

Tragedy

Born on 8 May 1947, he graduated from Stirling University, with an honours degree in history and a PhD in economic history.

Personal tragedy affected his life in 1998 when his wife Cathy died suddenly from a heart attack.

The couple met at a school party while both were still teenagers and went on to have two sons.

Two years after the death of his wife he started a relationship with his present partner, film-maker Karine Addler.

Dr Reid lists his hobbies as football, history, crosswords and playing the guitar.

At the end of 1999, Dr Reid was voted "Scotland's Champion Smoker" by campaign group Freedom to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest).

In January last year he was named an honorary member of the Scottish group The Big Elastic Band and promised to play guitar on their next album.


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