Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Gray: Alexander has 'big future'

Wendy Alexander
Mr Gray said Ms Alexander had a big future in Scottish politics

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has predicted a political comeback for his predecessor, Wendy Alexander.

He told BBC Scotland he was "certain" she would return to the party's front bench team, although she was not named in Mr Gray's first major reshuffle.

Mr Gray's comments came as he announced several changes to his front bench team at Holyrood.

He said Labour was facing a "big year ahead" with the forthcoming General Election.

Ms Alexander, a former Scottish minister, resigned the leadership in 2008 after breaking rules on declaring donations.

Mr Gray said his predecessor was continuing to do a "powerful job" for the party, adding: "Wendy is somebody who still has a big future in Scottish politics."

He went on to say: "I'm certain she will come back to a front bench role."

Ms Alexander resigned after failing to register donations to her leadership campaign, but has always insisted she acted on the written advice of the parliamentary authorities.

Meanwhile, Mr Gray announced his education spokeswoman, Rhona Brankin, had quit for family reasons and had been replaced by Des McNulty, although she will continue her work on party policy.

Jackie Baillie, former chief of staff to Ms Alexander, has taken over at health from Cathy Jamieson, but Ms Jamieson has retained her housing brief.

Other changes to the leader's line-up will see former health and finance minister Andy Kerr continue as finance spokesman, but his local government portfolio has been given to Michael McMahon who, in turn, has been replaced as party business manager by Paul Martin.

Mr Gray said: "This is a big year ahead for Labour with the general election coming up and the need to prepare the groundwork for the Scottish elections in 2011."

Here is a look at the revamped Scottish Labour team:

  • Iain Gray, Holyrood leader
  • Johann Lamont, deputy Holyrood leader, chief of staff and spokeswoman for equalities
  • Andy Kerr, finance and the economy
  • Cathy Jamieson, housing and regeneration
  • Jackie Baillie, health
  • John Park, elections
  • Des McNulty, education
  • Michael McMahon, local government
  • Richard Baker, justice
  • Sarah Boyack, environment
  • Paul Martin, business manager
  • Pauline McNeill, culture and constitution
  • David Stewart, chief whip


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