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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 11:10 GMT
Henry McLeish - profile
Henry McLeish graphic
Mr McLeish has faced an expenses row

Name: Henry McLeish

Born: Fife

Age: 52

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

MSP for: Fife Central

Former Position: Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning


Henry McLeish was elected as first minister of the Scottish Parliament last year following the sudden death of Donald Dewar.

However, there has been little room for him to celebrate his first year in office, with a deeply damaging row about his expenses rumbling on.

Mr McLeish,the former Scottish enterprise minister was effectively Mr Dewar's political deputy - but without the title.

A former professional footballer, he 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.

In keeping with the conventon agreed by other MPs elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, he stood down from the Westminster seat ahead of the general election this year to focus his energies on Holyrood.

Donald Dewar with others
Mr McLeish took over after Donald Dewar's death
However, it is his experience at Westminster which allowed 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.

Mr McLeish was fiercely loyal to Mr Dewar and was perceived as a "safe pair of hands" into which the baton for leading the Scottish Executive and Scottish Labour could be passed following the former first minister's death.

Evidence of this loyalty was clear when a tearful Mr McLeish joined parliamentarians in the chamber to mourn Mr Dewar.

The father-of-four has been regarded as a competent parliamentary performer, but there have been doubts about the presence of a "common touch" and the ability to control rebellion in the ranks.

Financial affairs

Now doubts have arisen about his handling of the "office-gate" expenses affair.

Critics say he has failed to manage his financial affairs correctly, which has been damaging enough in itself.

Potentially more harmful in the long term has been Mr McLeish's inability to resolve the issue in the eyes of the public and the media.

Outside politics, Mr McLeish has sought to keep his private life out of the public domain.

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
Minister labels debate 'shallow'
27 Apr 00 | Scotland
Wallace and McLeish stand united
09 Dec 99 | Scotland
Minister signals enterprise re-think
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