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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 11:59 GMT
'Outgoing' minister puts health first
Sam Galbraith in parliament
Mr Galbraith has a reputation as a pragmatic politician
Sam Galbraith's decision to resign his position as a Scottish Cabinet minister will not come as a surprise to some observers.

Mr Galbraith, who underwent lung surgery in 1990, cited health reasons as the key factor in his decision.

The former brain surgeon has endured a testing two years as a minister in the Scottish Parliament with difficult portfolios to handle.

Coupled with this has been his commitment to his Strathkelvin and Bearsden constituency as both an MSP and MP.

Sam Galbraith up close
Mr Galbraith has held demanding positions
Mr Galbraith has also decided to resign from his Scottish Parliament seat. He was, like most other MSPs, about to relinquish his Westminster seat at the general election anyway.

The 55-year-old has gained a reputation as a pragmatic and dedicated politician over the years.

Before entering politics he was a consultant surgeon for nearly 10 years for Greater Glasgow Health Board.

He won the previously Tory-held seat of Strathkelvin and Bearsden in 1987, covering much of the prosperous suburbs to the north of Glasgow.

At Westminster he first became an opposition spokesman on Scottish affairs and health until 1992, when he switched to employment.

His previous career gave him unique insights into his job as health minister at the Scottish Office.

Teachers' pay

As a Scottish minister he weathered storms over the National Health Service, in particular in January 1999 when a top consultant, Dr Keith Little, resigned as clinical director of the accident and emergency unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary over delays for patients needing beds.

Mr Galbraith became the Scottish Parliament's first education minister.

In that role he faced controversies over teachers' pay and conditions and Section 28, the repeal of the legislation on homosexuality in schools.

Mr Galbraith used his homespun direct style to try to reassure parents - "Trust me - I'm a dad."

Keep the Clause leaflets
The Section 28 row was a major challenge
But fierce though it seemed at the time, that row was to pale almost into insignificance in comparison to the controversy over Scotland's school exam results in August 2000.

That led to the abrupt departure of the head of the Scottish Qualifications Authority - and repeated demands for Mr Galbraith's resignation.

He was moved to the environment portfolio in the wake of First Minister Henry McLeish's election following the death of Donald Dewar.

Mr Galbraith was a close personal friend of Mr Dewar and is married with three daughters.

He was born in Lancashire, but educated at Greenock High School and Glasgow University.

Despite his gaunt appearance, Mr Galbraith has always been an energetic and outgoing character. He is a keen mountaineer who has scaled the Eiger, the Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc.

He is an art lover and former director of the Wildcat Theatre Company in Glasgow.

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See also:

20 Mar 01 | Scotland
Sam Galbraith expected to quit
13 Dec 00 | Scotland
Galbraith survives confidence vote
14 Aug 00 | Scotland
Dewar backs education minister
07 Sep 00 | Scotland
Galbraith accused over exams powers
29 Oct 00 | Scotland
McConnell moves in cabinet reshuffle
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