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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
CV: Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell
Age: 43

Education: Arran High School, Lamlash. Stirling University where he gained a BSc Dip Ed

Personal details: Married to Bridget, two children, Hannah and Mark

Party: Scottish Labour

Political career: Member of Stirling District Council (1984-1992). During his time on the Council he was treasurer (1988-92) and leader (1990-1992). As General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party (1992-1998), Mr McConnell managed the 1997 election and co-ordinated Labour's Yes Yes referendum campaign in September 1997. He was a member of the Scottish Constitutional Convention (1989-98) and was appointed Scottish Labour Environmental Affairs Spokesperson for the 1999 Scottish Election.

Interests: Enjoys listening to music, playing golf and watching football. Member of the GMB and Amnesty International.

Scottish politics had been in turmoil prior to Jack McConnell winning the post of first minister in November 2001.

In the process, he became the first man in the post never to have served as an MP at Westminster.

Donald Dewar died while in the post and Henry McLeish was in the job for little over a year.

So far, Mr McConnell, the MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, has weathered the storms which have come his way.

He had to justify why building costs for the new Holyrood parliament have soared since building began in 1999.

On the first anniversary in the job he told MSPs that the increasing budget and delays to the project was the "single biggest disappointment in devolution".

In echoes of Mr McLeish's downfall, the first minister faced questions over his register of interests involving an general election campaign donation and money from a fundraising dinner.

The saga led to a Labour Party probe and a tweaking of the members' interest list.

He suffered a ministerial casualty in the middle of last year when Wendy Alexander resigned as minister for enterprise, lifelong learning and transport.

Before making his bid to become first minister, Mr McConnell felt it necessary to remove all skeletons from his cupboard by admitting publicly that he had had an affair.

The former maths teacher was born in Irvine and raised on a sheep farm on the picturesque Isle of Arran, which lies off Scotland's west coast.

Maths teacher

During his time at Stirling University, Mr McConnell's interest in politics germinated and he served as president of the university's students association.

After graduating he became a maths teacher and in 1984, at the age of 24, was elected to Stirling District Council where he served until 1992.

During his eight-year tenure he became treasurer and was elected leader of the ruling Labour administration in 1990.

It was Mr McConnell's next job, however, which laid the foundations for his higher level aspirations.

As general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party between 1992 and 1998, he earned a reputation as a shrewd operator who could handle media attention.

He also built up a power base among party members, MPs and councillors - a feat which would later give him a head start on leadership rivals.

'Jumping Jack Flash'

His handling of party affairs was rewarded in 1997 when he was given the job of co-ordinating Labour's Yes Yes devolution referendum campaign.

Following its success he was appointed Scottish Labour's spokesman for environmental affairs during the 1999 Holyrood elections.

After the party's failure to win a clear majority, he was appointed finance minister in Donald Dewar's coalition Scottish Executive.

This role gave him responsibility for a multi-billion pound budget and the "modernising government" agenda - reforming the civil service and local councils in Scotland and bringing them into the electronic age.

His slick persona and confident - some would say cocky - performances in parliament earned him the nickname "Jumping Jack Flash".

However, his blackest hour soon descended in the form of "lobbygate" - a scandal rooted in Mr McConnell's time at PR consultants Beattie Media.

A newspaper alleged that an undercover journalist had evidence that the company's executives were offering preferential access to Scottish ministers and openly boasted that Mr McConnell was a former employee of the firm.

A parliamentary probe later cleared him of any wrongdoing and Mr McConnell's reputation stayed intact.

McConnell's swipe at civil service
20 Dec 99  |  Scotland
McConnell under water pressure
10 Nov 99  |  Scotland
Labour rules out negative campaign
06 Feb 03  |  Scotland
'I am a socialist' - McConnell
25 Nov 02  |  Scotland
McConnell denies misleading MSPs
11 Oct 02  |  Scotland

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