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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Profile: Wendy Alexander
Wendy Alexander
Politics runs in the Alexander family

Name: Wendy Alexander

Born: Glasgow

Age: 38

Education: A graduate of Glasgow and Warwick universities; gained an MBA from INSEAD business school in France

MSP for: Paisley North

Position: Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning


Wendy Alexander was marked out early on as a rising star in Scottish politics.

Not known as a shrinking violet, she was handed the political responsibility for abolishing the controversial law banning the promotion of homosexuality in Scotland's schools.

Ms Alexander will always be the minister associated with the repeal of Section 28.

She was an obvious target for the high-profile Keep the Clause campaign - which lobbied to maintain the status quo.

But a quiet word had to be had when she targeted the man behind the group - multi-millionaire Brian Souter.

Wendy Alexander
The minister was under fire over Section 28
Ms Alexander said ending discrimination and child poverty were much more important than the transport tycoon's "misguided" efforts.

Labour spin doctors forced her to take a back seat as the row developed and it was the then Education Minister Sam Galbraith who was then forced to take the flak.

Away from Section 28, her time as enterprise and lifelong learning minister did not endear her to everyone.

She was at the centre of the storm over the appointment of a new tourism chief for Scotland.

During this time, her boss, Henry McLeish, was forced to make a statement to parliament, backing her to the hilt. He described Ms Alexander as "talented and hard-working".

He accused her of interfering in his professional duties.

Dewar adviser

But, among her political achievements, she became the first member of the Scottish Executive to appear before a committee of MPs at Westminster.

Wendy Alexander was immensely close to the late Donald Dewar.

When he was secretary of state for Scotland, she was one of his special advisers and part of the team which drafted the Scotland Act.

Wendy Alexander
Politics are in the blood of the Alexander family
Despite her age, it was of no surprise that she was awarded a position in the new parliament.

She was appointed communities minister, with responsibility for housing, social policy and local government.

After Mr McLeish's elevation to first minister, she moved into his former position with the enterprise and lifelong portfolio.

Most of her housing policy statements were welcomed and in terms of party politics caused little in the way of controversy.

Housing transfer

Her major project was housing stock transfer, a complex change which would see council houses transferred to housing associations to secure much-needed investment.

The initiative was widely opposed among housing groups, especially in Glasgow, where activists have mounted a campaign of opposition.

She had been tipped as a likely candidate to replace Mr McLeish when he stepped down as first minister in November last year over the Officegate affair.

However, she surprised many pundits when she decided not to stand.

Ms Alexander said she would have found it difficult to step into the role previously held by the late Donald Dewar, with whom she had worked closely.

The transport portfolio was then added to her responsibilities when Jack McConnell announced a major cabinet reshuffle after assuming the leadership.

Management consultant

It is thought that Ms Alexander had become increasingly discontented with her workload and with relations with her colleagues.

Outside politics, the Glasgow University graduate worked as a management consultant in Europe, America and Asia.

Politics are important to the Alexander family - brother Douglas is the Westminster MP for Paisley South.

Both are supporters of UK chancellor and fellow Scot Gordon Brown.

See also:

16 Sep 00 | Scotland
11 Mar 00 | Scotland
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