George Reid (Scottish politician)

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Sir George Reid

George reid msp.jpg
Reid as Presiding Officer
2nd Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
In office
7 May 2003 14 May 2007
Preceded by David Steel
Succeeded by Alex Fergusson
Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
In office
12 May 1999 7 May 2003
Servingwith Patricia Ferguson (1999–2001) and Murray Tosh (2001–2003)
Presiding Officer David Steel
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded by Alasdair Morgan
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Ochil
In office
3 May 2003 7 May 2007
Preceded by Richard Simpson
Succeeded by Keith Brown
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Mid Scotland and Fife
In office
1 May 1999 3 May 2003
Personal details
Born (1939-06-04) 4 June 1939 (age 80)
Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Political party Scottish National Party

Sir George Reid PC FRSE (born 4 June 1939) is a Scottish politician. From February 1974 to May 1979 he served as a Scottish National Party Member of Parliament for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire. He was elected in 1999 as a Member of the newly established Scottish Parliament as a regional MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife. From 2003 to 2007 he served as member for the Ochil constituency and was appointed as the Scottish Parliament's second Presiding Officer. He oversaw the completion of the new Parliament building at Holyrood and the move from The Mound to Holyrood in 2004. [1]

Contents

In May 2008, Reid was appointed as the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for the duration of the General Assembly's sitting that year. In 2009, he was appointed as Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire.

Early life and work

George Reid was born in 1939 at Tullibody, near Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, and educated at Dollar Academy and the University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, where he was awarded an MA degree with First-class honours in History in 1962. He then continued with further studies in Switzerland and Union College in the United States, obtaining a diploma in international relations. [2]

He worked as a broadcast journalist and television producer for the BBC, Granada Television and Scottish Television, and as a print journalist for several newspapers. In this time he produced over 200 television documentaries, including Emmy winner Contract 736, about the construction of the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. [2]

Westminster Parliament

Reid was elected as the Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of Parliament for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire in the February 1974 general election, with a majority of 3,610. [3] He more than doubled his majority to 7,341 in the October 1974 general election, [4] but then lost by a narrow 984 votes in the UK general election, 1979. [5]

During his time at Westminster he served as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and that of the Western European Union. [6]

Red Cross

After leaving Westminster he briefly returned to journalism. For BBC Scotland, he presented Agenda, which was produced by Kirsty Wark. He was producer of the famous reportage by Michael Buerk of the Ethiopian famine of 1984 that inspired the Band Aid and Live Aid charity campaigns, which led him to be headhunted by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. [7] [8] He was part of an international disaster team that responded to the 1988 Armenian earthquake. [9] [10] He was Director of Public Affairs of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent for 12 years, based in Geneva, Switzerland, but working worldwide in conflict and disaster zones. [11]

Scottish Parliament

In 1995 Reid re-entered Scottish politics by delivering the annual Donaldson Lecture at the SNP conference, drawing on his knowledge of continental European politics to argue a case for why a party like the SNP could be expected to prosper if a Scottish Parliament was established. Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland George Robertson's contrary claim that devolution would "kill the SNP stone dead" was dismissed by Reid by saying "Ho, ho, ho". [12]

He stood in the Ochil constituency, which covered approximately the same area as his old seat, at Westminster in the UK general election 1997, coming in second. [13] When the new Labour administration moved forward with proposals for a Scottish Parliament, Reid first served on the pre-establishment Consultative Steering Group, [14] and then was elected in the first election in 1999 to represent Mid Scotland and Fife.

At the opening of the Parliament Reid was defeated 82 votes to 44 by Sir David Steel (a Liberal Democrat, the last-ever leader of the British Liberal Party) for the position of Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and was instead elected a Deputy Presiding Officer. [15]

At the 2003 Scottish Parliament election Reid succeeded in winning the Ochil constituency first past the post. [16] He was then elected by his fellow MSPs to succeed David Steel as Presiding Officer. [17] [18] As the Presiding Officer is expected to be strictly nonpartisan, he voluntarily suspended his SNP membership for the duration of his tenure.

As the Presiding Officer has a role in advising The Queen, Reid was appointed a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in 2004. [19] At the official opening of the controversial new Scottish Parliament building that year, he made a keynote speech in which he paid tribute to the construction as an architectural achievement, and urged parliamentarians to "listen to the building" to inspire them in their future endeavours. [20]

As Presiding Officer he also led the creation of a Scottish Futures Forum, to promote cross-party strategic thinking. [21] [22] He was appointed President of the Royal Commonwealth Society Scotland, [23] and became Patron of the Scottish Disability Equality Forum. [24]

After Presiding Officer

Reid chose not to seek re-election at the end of the 2007 Parliamentary term. As an independent figure with experience of a devolved parliament, he was chosen to lead a review of the administration of the troubled Northern Ireland Assembly. [25] Reid also joined the European Union's Caucasus-Caspian diplomatic commission. [26] On 19 April 2007 he was made a Freeman of the County of Clackmannanshire. [27] He had his portrait taken by photographer Harry Benson the same year. [28]

He was then appointed Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in January 2008, to serve as the Queen's personal representative to the Church of Scotland. [29] This position is second only to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in the ceremonial Order of Precedence. [30] He served as Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire from 2011 to 2014.

In 2006 he was appointed by the University of Glasgow as an Honorary Professor in the School of Law. [2] Between 2008 and 2011 he was an independent adviser on the Scottish Ministerial Code. [31]

In September 2009, Reid was appointed by the National Trust for Scotland to lead a wide-ranging internal governance review. [32] Reid produced a report, making a range of recommendations that were accepted by the Trust. [33]

He was an Electoral Commissioner from 2010 to 2014. [34] [35]

In 2013 he underwent major surgery for bladder cancer. [31] He resigned all his positions, then made a good recovery. [36]

Awards and honours

After relief efforts for the 1988 Armenian earthquake Reid was recognised with the Gold Medal of the Supreme Soviet of Armenia and the Pirogov Gold Medal of the USSR. [6]

During his time as Presiding Officer he won the Herald newspaper's Scottish Politician of the Year award in 2003 and 2005, becoming the first person to have won the award on two occasions, [37] [38] followed by a lifetime achievement award in 2013. [31] Reid was made a Free man of Clackmannanshire in 2007. [39]

He received also several honorary doctorates, i.e. an LLD degree from the University of St Andrews in 2005, [40] [41] a DUniv degree from Queen Margaret University in 2006, [42] the degree of Dr.h.c. from the University of Edinburgh in 2007, [43] and a DUniv degree from the University of Stirling in 2008. [44]

Reid was knighted in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to Scottish politics and public life. [45] [46] In 2015, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE). [47]

Personal life

Reid is married with two children.

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References

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Dick Douglas
Member of Parliament for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire
February 19741979
Succeeded by
Martin O'Neill
Scottish Parliament
Preceded by
Richard Simpson
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Ochil
20032007
Succeeded by
Keith Brown
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir David Steel
Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
2003–2007
Succeeded by
Alex Fergusson
Other offices
Preceded by
The Duke of York
Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
2008–2009
Succeeded by
The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn