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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
CV: Jim Wallace
Age: 49

Education:Annan Academy, Dumfriesshire, Downing College, Cambridge - MA Economics & Law, Edinburgh University - LLB Legal Studies 1977.

Personal details: Married to Rosemary. Two daughters.

Party:Liberal Democrats

Political career: Joined Scottish Liberal Party 1972; member of party executive 1976-85; contested South Scotland, European elections 1979; contested Dumfriesshire 1979; MP for Orkney and Shetland 1983-2001; Member of Scottish Parliament for Orkney 1999-present; Scottish party leader 1992-present.

Interests: Elder of the Church of Scotland. Enjoys music, golf, reading and travel.

Jim Wallace has more experience in government than any other Liberal since Lloyd George almost a century ago.

The Scottish Parliament's voting system ensured that the Labour Party needed to enlist the co-operation of the Lib Dems to form a majority executive in 1999.

For four years, the Scottish Lib Dem leader has served as justice minister and deputy first minister in coalition with Labour.

On three occasions, Mr Wallace has stepped up to become Scotland's interim first minister due to the Labour incumbent being unavailable through sickness, tragedy or scandal.

When he took on the leadership of the Scottish Liberal Democrats 11 years ago it was difficult to believe it would be a position that would bring him to such prominence.

Political pounding

He says that the presence of Lib Dems in the executive has brought about policies such as the scrapping of upfront tuition fees and free personal care for the elderly.

He also managed to pilot the Freedom of Information Bill through the parliament, a long-held wish.

Despite a political pounding over prison privatisations and the row over banning the smacking of toddlers, Mr Wallace seems to have survived unscathed.

Born and raised in Dumfriesshire, Mr Wallace was bitten by the political bug when he was just nine years old.

He collected autographs from visiting politicians - to this day he still has one from Tam Dalyell.

Westminster seat

Despite being a man not noted for extremes, he travelled the full length of Scotland to find his political home.

Political manoeuvering between the Liberals and the Social Democrats in 1983 saw Mr Wallace leave the south-west for life in the Northern Isles.

Unable to find a Westminster seat in Dumfriesshire, he went to Orkney and Shetland to replace veteran Liberal MP Jo Grimond.

He represented Orkney and Shetland at Westminster for almost 20 years and has been the MSP for Orkney since 1999.

Wallace cries freedom
27 Apr 02  |  Scotland
Peterhead Prison to stay open
05 Sep 02  |  Scotland
Wallace steps into the breach
08 Nov 01  |  McLeish resignation
Wallace's big day in parliament
12 May 00  |  Scotland
Coalition deal controversy
28 Jun 99  |  Scottish Parliament opening

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