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Wednesday, 24 January, 2001, 21:54 GMT
Helen Liddell: Profile
Helen Liddell
Helen Liddell is the new Scottish Secretary
Helen Liddell has returned to politics north of the Border as the new secretary of state for Scotland.

The former minister for energy and competitiveness in Europe steps into the shoes of Dr John Reid who has been appointed Northern Ireland secretary following the resignation of Peter Mandelson.

It is nearly two years since Mrs Liddell was last involved in Scottish politics as deputy Scottish secretary.

During a stormy 12 months in the post she clashed with the country's teaching unions over the implementation of Higher Still and earned the moniker "Nat-basher-in-chief" for her gloves-off approach to the Scottish National Party.

Dr John Reid
She replaces Dr John Reid
Mrs Liddell, 50, was born in the Scottish Labour heartland of Lanarkshire.

She started work in the economics department of the Scottish Trades Union Congress before joining BBC Scotland as an economics correspondent.

The married mother-of-two spent 11 years as general secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland while it was in opposition.

She then started work as personnel director for the Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail when both papers were owned by Robert Maxwell.

By-election

She became the Westminster MP for the Lanarkshire constituency of Monklands East in 1994 after the death of former Labour leader John Smith sparked a by-election.

After a fiercely contested battle Mrs Liddell beat the SNP into second place with a majority of less than 2000.

She was re-elected in 1997 to the new Airdrie and Shotts constituency, with a majority of more than 15,000.

When Labour swept to power in May 1997, the politician's stock began to rise.

She spent a period at the Treasury where her "no-nonsense style" was put to use naming and shaming financial institutions accused of mis-selling pensions.

In July 1998 she joined the then Scottish Office - now known as the Scotland Office - as education minister and deputy secretary of state for Scotland to Donald Dewar.

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See also:

24 Jan 01 | Scotland
New roles for 'street-fighters'
24 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
John Reid appointed NI secretary
24 Jan 01 | Scotland
John Reid: Profile
17 May 99 | UK Politics
Liddell's 'no-nonsense' approach
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