Scottish Labour Party: Wikis


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Scottish Labour Party
Pàrtaidh Làbarach na h-Alba
Scottis Labour Pairty
Leader Iain Gray
Founded 1909
Headquarters John Smith House
145 West Regent Street
G2 4RE
Ideology Democratic socialism,
Social Democracy,
Third Way,
Trade Unionism,
British unionism
Political position Centre-Left
International affiliation Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament Group Party of European Socialists
Official colours Red
Politics of Scotland
Political parties

Scottish Labour, often described as the Scottish Labour Party,[1] (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Làbarach na h-Alba; Scots: Scottis Labour Pairty) is that part of the British Labour Party which operates in Scotland. It is historically the largest political party in modern Scottish politics, having won the largest share of the vote in Scotland at every UK general election since the 1960s,[2] every European Parliament general election from 1979 until defeated by the SNP in 2009, and in the first two elections to the Scottish Parliament, held in 1999 and 2003.

At the 2007 Scottish Parliament general election the Scottish Labour Party became the second largest party, with a lower share of the vote and with one fewer seat than the Scottish National Party (SNP), who subsequently formed a minority government.

Scottish Labour have 46 of 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament, 38 of 59 Scottish seats in the UK Parliament, and 2 of 6 Scottish seats in the European Parliament.

According to the accounts it submitted to the Electoral Commission the party had an income of £396,195 in 2008,[3] and membership of approximately 18,000.[4]


Recent history

The party campaigned for the creation of a devolved Scottish Parliament as part of its wider policy of a devolved United Kingdom. In the late 1980s and 1990s it and its representatives participated in the Scottish Constitutional Convention with the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish Green Party, trades unions and churches, and also campaigned for a "Yes-Yes" vote in the 1997 referendum.

In the first elections to the Scottish Parliament on 6 May 1999, the Scottish Labour Party, led by Donald Dewar, won 56 seats out of 129, well ahead of their main opponents, the SNP under Alex Salmond, with 27 seats. Not having a majority in Parliament, the party formed a coalition government with the Scottish Liberal Democrats, with Dewar agreeing to their demand for the abolition of up-front tuition fees for university students as the price for a coalition deal. Consequently, on 13 May, Dewar was nominated as First Minister, and was officially appointed by the Queen on 17 May at a ceremony in the Palace of Holyroodhouse. He later travelled to the Court of Session to be sworn in by the Lord President and receive the Great Seal of Scotland.

In April 2000, Dewar was admitted to hospital for tests on his heart, following a previous test where a minor irregularity was discovered. In May 2000, he later had surgery to repair a leaking heart valve, and was forced to take a three month break from Parliament, with Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace taking over as Acting First Minister. On 10 October 2000, Dewar sustained a fall. He seemed fine at first but later that day suffered a massive brain hemorrhage which was possibly triggered by the anticoagulant medication he was taking after the heart surgery. Donald Dewar died 11 October in Edinburgh's Western General Hospital.

After Dewar's death, Henry McLeish was elected as Leader of Scottish Labour, defeating rival Jack McConnell, 27 October 2000 but resigned in 2001 amid a scandal involving the renting of his constituency office and allegations of financial wrongdoings. McLeish felt his resignation would allow the Scottish Labour Party a clean break to prepare for the 2003 Parliamentary elections.

After McLeish's resignation, Jack McConnell quickly emerged as the only candidate, and was elected First Minister by the Parliament on 22 November 2001.


2007 Scottish Parliament elections and aftermath

In the run-up to the 2007 Scottish Parliament general election, McConnell was criticised by many inside and outside of the Labour party for his role in the party's poor start to the campaign with Labour solidly behind the Scottish National Party in many opinion polls. On April 10, McConnell unveiled Scottish Labour's election manifesto, which included plans to scrap water bills for pensioners and reform council tax bandings. The manifesto also proposed a large increase in education spending, which would allow the increasing of the school leaving age to 18 and a reduction in average class sizes to 19.

McConnell's ruling Labour Party was defeated by the SNP, both in terms of the popular vote and in numbers of seats. The SNP won 47 seats in the new parliament, whilst the Labour Party won 46, thus securing them a one-seat majority over Labour, but still well short of a majority of the parliament. On 15 August 2007, McConnell announced his intention to resign as Scottish Labour leader.

On 17 August 2007, Wendy Alexander formally launched her campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party in Holyrood. As the only candidate, Alexander was installed as leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parliament on 14 September 2007. In 2007, a funding scandal developed after it emerged that she had accepted an illegal donation from Paul Green, a property magnate, a matter that was investigated by the Electoral Commission. Further newspaper reports on 30 November indicated Alexander was aware of the identity of the donor, after having sent a personal letter of gratitude to Mr Green (at his home in the tax haven of Jersey) concerning the donation. Accepting a donation from someone who is not registered on the UK electoral roll is illegal under electoral law, and is subject to criminal prosecution. However, the Electoral Commission concluded in February 2008 that Alexander had taken 'significant steps' to comply with funding regulations and decided not to refer the matter to the Procurator Fiscal. In a separate development, a few days earlier in February 2008, the standards watchdog for Scotland reported Wendy Alexander to the Procurator Fiscal for failing to publicly declare campaign donations.

During a TV interview on 4 May 2008, Wendy Alexander performed a major U-turn on previous Scottish Labour Party's policy by seeming to endorse a referendum on Scottish independence, despite previously refusing to support any referendum on the grounds that she did not support independence. During a further TV interview on 6 May 2008 she reiterated this commitment to a referendum and claimed that she had the full backing of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The following day, Gordon Brown denied this was Labour policy and that Wendy Alexander had been misrepresented during Prime Ministers Questions in Westminster. Despite this lack of backing, Wendy Alexander once again reiterated her commitment to a referendum during First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament.

On 28 June 2008, Wendy Alexander announced her resignation as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, due to pressure on her following the donation scandal. Cathy Jamieson became interim leader of the Scottish Labour Party until a leadership election could be held.

2008 Glasgow East by-election

In late June 2008, David Marshall, MP for the Glasgow East constituency since 1979, resigned on health grounds. The resignation was sudden, however the seat was the 3rd safest Labour seat in the country and at the Westminster general election in 2005, Labour had a 13,057 majority over second placed SNP. In the resultant by-election on 24 July 2008, SNP candidate, serving Glasgow City Council member John Mason managed a spectacular 22.5% swing in the nationalist's favour to win the seat.

Iain Gray becomes leader

On 1 August 2008, the contest for the new Leader of the Scottish Labour Party began. The contenders were Iain Gray, MSP for East Lothian former Enterprise Minister in the previous Labour Executive, Andy Kerr, MSP for East Kilbride and former Health Secretary in the previous administration, and Cathy Jamieson MSP, who had been deputy leader under Jack McConnell and caretaker leader since Wendy Alexander resigned following the illegal donation scandal.

On 13 September 2008, Iain Gray was elected leader and promised a "fresh start" for Labour in Scotland.

2008 Glenrothes by-election

On 13 August 2008, Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Glenrothes in Fife, John MacDougall died, triggering a by-election in a constituency that neighboured both the constituency of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, and the constituency of Dunfermline and West Fife that had been won by the Liberal Democrats in a by-election in 2006. In the event, Labour held the parliamentary seat, increasing their vote by 3.2%, though with a much reduced majority. Lindsay Roy became Labour MP for the constituency, on 7 November 2008, defeating the SNP's candidate, Peter Grant, current council leader in Fife, in what was viewed by many as a surprise. Grant had been widely fancied to take the seat and after their stunning success in Glasgow East the SNP were disappointed. The voting was: Lindsay Roy, Labour, 19,946; Peter Grant, SNP 13,209. The Conservative Party which came 3rd with 1,381 votes, the Liberal Democrats with 947 votes and four other candidates lost their deposits.[5]


In March 2006 the Scottish Labour Party membership had fallen to 18,800 members,it now stands at 15,000 members down from a peak of approximately 30,000 in the run-up to the 1997 UK general election.[6] The total annual income of the party in 2005, as registered with the Electoral Commission,[7] was £523,523 (up from £318,609 in 2004), with assets of £169,502.

Leaders of Scottish Labour MSPs

Leader Name Portrait Entered Office Left Office Date of Birth
1 Donald Dewar Wfm donald dewar statue.jpg 7 May 1999 11 October 2000 2 21 August 1937 - 11 October 2000
2 Henry McLeish 27 October 2000 – 8 November 2001 1 15 June 1948 - present
3 Jack McConnell JackMcConnellMSP.jpg 22 November 2001 15 August 2007 30 June 1960 - present
4 Wendy Alexander Wendy alexander 200.jpg 14 September 2007 28 June 2008 5 March 1963 - present
5 Iain Gray IainGray.jpg 13 September 2008 7 June 1957 - present

1 - Resigned
2 - Died in Office


The General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party is Colin Smyth. He succeeded Lesley Quinn, who had been in the position since November 1999.[8]

The party has its headquarters at John Smith House, 145 West Regent Street, in the Blythswood Hill district of Glasgow.


The party holds an annual conference during February/March each year.

Further reading

  • Donald Dewar, Scotland's First Minister, Wendy Alexander, Mainstream, 2005.
  • The Scottish Labour Party, Gerry Hassan, 2003, Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 0-7486-1784-1
  • Scottish Labour Leaders 1918-1939: A Biographical Dictionary, William Know, Mainstream, 1984.
  • Dictionary of Labour Biography, Greg Rosen, 2001, Politicos Publishing, ISBN 1902301188
  • Old Labour to New, Greg Rosen, 2005, Politicos Publishing.
  • John Smith - A Life, Mark Stuart, Politicos Publishing, 2005.

See also


  1. ^ The Scottish Labour Party, Report and Financial Statements, year ended 31st December 2007, as submitted to the Electoral Commission
  2. ^ The 2005 General Election in Scotland, by David Denver, Scottish Affairs, No. 53, Autumn 2005; accessed 7 January 2009
  3. ^ "Donations to Scottish Labour fell by 90% in just one year". The Herald. 31 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-31.  
  4. ^ "SNP's income doubles to £1.8m as the cash flows in". The Scotsman. 31 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-31.  
  5. ^ Glenrothes result in full BBC News 7 Nov 2008
  6. ^ "Panic within Labour as membership falls", The Scotsman, 5 March, 2006
  7. ^ pdf file: The Scottish Labour Party, Report and Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31st December 2005, Hardie Caldwell, Chartered Accountants, Citypoint 2, 25 Tyndrum Street, Glasgow, G4 0JY
  8. ^ "Labour unveils new top official", BBC News website, 4 February 2008

External links

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|150px|Iain Gray, who is the leader of the Scottish Labour Party.]]

The Scottish Labour Party is a political party in Scotland that is part of the British Labour Party. The party's policies usually promote social democracy and democratic socialism as well as the continuing of Scotland as part of the United Kingdom.

In the Scottish Parliament, the party leader is Iain Gray and it is the main opposition party controlling 46 out of 129 seats. The party controls 41 out of 59 Scottish seats in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom and 2 out of 6 Scottish seats in the European Parliament.


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