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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May 2005, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Profile: Sir Malcolm Rifkind
Sir Malcolm was foreign secretary when he lost his seat in Parliament
Sir Malcolm Rifkind came in from the political wilderness when he was voted back into Parliament last week and now has been pitched back into the front line.

As the new shadow work and pensions secretary, he has the job of keeping tabs on David Blunkett.

His speedy promotion comes after eight years outside Parliament: he was one of the Conservative "big beasts" to lose their seats during Labour's landslide general election victory in 1997.

Up until then he had been a serving MP for more than 20 years and a member of the Cabinet since 1986 - his last job being Foreign Secretary.

When he lost the Edinburgh Pentlands seat to Labour's Dr Lynda Clark, Sir Malcolm became more involved in business interests, as well as pursuing his route back into Parliament.

But he has kept a high profile, particularly during the Iraq war, a conflict which he opposed.


Malcolm Leslie Rifkind was born on 21 June 1946 and educated at George Watson's College and Edinburgh University where he graduated with an LLB and MSc.

After lecturing at the University of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from 1967 to 1968 he returned to Scotland to pursue his legal and political ambitions.

In 1970, he was called to the Scottish Bar and four years later Sir Malcolm entered the House of Commons as the Conservative MP for Edinburgh Pentlands.

Born:21 June 1946
Educated: George Watson's college and Edinburgh University
Family: Married to Edith Amalia (Steinberg), son Hugo and daughter Caroline
Job: Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Kensington and Chelsea

His legal understanding and oratory skills were quickly recognised by Margaret Thatcher who appointed him and Conservative spokesman on Scottish affairs in 1975.

Just one year later his career suffered a temporary setback when he resigned the position in protest at Mrs Thatcher's hostile views on the establishment of a Scottish assembly.

Mrs Thatcher held no long-term animosity towards Sir Malcolm and appointed him as the parliament under secretary of state at the Scottish Office when she swept to power in 1979.

Rising stock

In 1983 he was promoted to minister of state at the Foreign Office, where he was instrumental in persuading the prime minister to accept plans for the creation of a single market in Europe.

Mr Rifkind's legal stock rose again in 1985 when he was appointed a QC. A political promotion followed in 1986 - this time to secretary of state for Scotland.

The appointment made him a full member of the UK cabinet, a position he would occupy in different roles for the next 11 years.

Mrs Thatcher gave him the transport portfolio in 1990 and when John Major became prime minister, he was appointed defence secretary in 1992.

In this role he deployed British troops to the then Yugoslavia and oversaw a rationalisation of the UK's defence budget.

Busy interim

When Douglas Hurd retired in 1995, Sir Malcolm was moved to the Foreign Office where he stayed until he lost his seat in Labour's landslide election victory two years later.

After being ousted from Parliament, he received a knighthood, acted as a business consultant to several British companies and served as president of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party since 1998.

But his attempt to take back his Edinburgh Pentlands seat was thwarted in 2001and he later failed to be short-listed to be Tory candidate in Windsor.

But Michael Portillo's decision to stand down from Parliament left an opening for him in the safe seat of Kensington and Chelsea.

Mr Rifkind's recreations include walking, reading and field sports. He is married and has one son and one daughter.

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