Jim Wallace, Baron Wallace of Tankerness

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The Lord Wallace of Tankerness
Official portrait of Lord Wallace of Tankerness crop 2, 2019.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Acting First Minister of Scotland
In office
8 November 2001 27 November 2001
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded by Nicol Stephen Chief Whip

Member of Parliament (UK)

Wallace joined the then-Liberal Party in the early 1970s, but did not become very active in it until after completing his second degree. His first foray as a parliamentary candidate was in the constituency of Dumfriesshire in 1979, where he failed to win. He also stood, unsuccessfully, as the Liberal candidate in the South of Scotland constituency at the European Parliament elections of that year.

Four years later, he would earn the Liberal nomination for the seat of Orkney and Shetland, the seat being vacated by former party leader Jo Grimond, and won election to the Parliament. At the time, it was extremely rare for Liberal candidates to successfully win elections to succeed former Liberal MPs, although many have since done so. He was to serve as the MP there for 18 years, occupying a number of front bench posts for the Liberal Party (and, from 1988 onwards, the Liberal Democrats), including Employment spokesman and Chief Whip.

In 1992, he was unopposed in becoming the new leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, succeeding Malcolm Bruce. Scottish politics at this time was dominated by the question of constitutional reform. There were few opportunities for legislation affecting Scots Law to be debated or effectively scrutinised at Westminster and, especially after the 1987 Election, with only ten Conservative MPs in Scotland but with a large majority in the House of Commons, it was argued that there was a democratic deficit in Scotland.

He led the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the first election to the new Scottish Parliament in 1999, himself winning the constituency of Orkney with 67% of the votes cast. This meant he served as a Member of both the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments for a time with a dual mandate, although like other MPs elected to Holyrood (such as John Swinney, John Home Robertson and Donald Gorrie) he stood down from Westminster at the 2001 General Election.

Member of the Scottish Parliament

As expected, the proportional election system for the new Scottish Parliament meant that Labour failed to gain an outright majority in the first elections. Their leader, Donald Dewar, chose to seek a formal coalition government with a working majority rather than try to operate as a minority government.

Deputy First Minister

He contacted Wallace and a week of formal negotiations were held between the two parties' representatives, following which a partnership agreement was signed, committing both parties to support a negotiated joint agenda. Wallace became Deputy First Minister and Minister for Justice, and maintained these briefs throughout the first term of the Parliament. [4]

The decision to enter a coalition government with Labour was controversial at the time. British politicians were unaccustomed to coalition politics, and the Liberal Democrats came under fire from Conservative and SNP opponents who claimed they had 'sold out' their principles. Key to this criticism was the Labour policy of making students pay tuition fees, which the Liberal Democrats had promised to abolish as their price of entering a coalition, but which became merely the subject of an inquiry as the coalition was formed.

In the event, the Liberal Democrats did insist on the abolition of tuition fees after the inquiry reported in 2001, but in 1999, the delay was perceived to have been a compromise, and Wallace in particular became the focal point for extremely bitter criticism. Despite this, and other difficult moments, he and his party stayed firm and remained in power. Wallace established himself as a minister.

Acting First Minister

On three occasions over the first term of the Parliament, he became Acting First Minister: twice in 2000 due to at first the illness, and later the death, of the first First Minister Donald Dewar, and then again in 2001, after the resignation of Dewar's successor as First Minister, Henry McLeish. Each occasion lasted for only a few weeks.

Under his continued leadership, the Scottish Liberal Democrats' popularity grew steadily. After leading the party through the second Holyrood elections in 2003 Elections, again winning 17 MSPs but with a higher share of the vote, he led the party into a second coalition with Labour. The 2003 coalition negotiation process was widely seen as a more successful enterprise by the Liberal Democrats than the preceding one, with key aspects of Labour's proposals on anti-social behaviour dropped or limited, and with the promise of proportional representation for Scotland's 32 local councils.

Wallace remained as Deputy First Minister, but left the Justice brief, becoming instead the Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. [5]

Resignation and peerage

On 9 May 2005, following the 2005 General Election, Wallace announced his intention to stand down as party leader and Deputy First Minister. He would remain as MSP for Orkney until the 2007 election, but would serve his time out as a backbencher. He ceased to be an MSP with the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament on 2 April 2007.

On 13 September 2007, it was announced that he was to be appointed to the House of Lords. [6] He was subsequently created a life peer on 17 October 2007 taking the title Baron Wallace of Tankerness, of Tankerness in Orkney . [7] Wallace also received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2007 [8]

On 28 April 2008, it was announced that the new Lord Wallace would be a member of the Commission on Scottish Devolution, chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman, established by the Scottish Parliament to consider the future powers of the Parliament, including powers over finance. This is a distinct exercise from the SNP Government's national conversation.

In November 2008, Wallace received a lifetime achievement award in the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards. [9]

In May 2010, he was appointed Advocate General for Scotland, one of the Law Officers of the Crown, who advise the government on Scots law. [10]

He was elected unopposed, as the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords on 15 October 2013, replacing Lord McNally, who had stepped down earlier in the month. [11]

In September 2016, he stepped down as the Leader of the Liberal Democrat in the House of Lords, citing a desire to step back from "frontline" politics stating "I was first elected to the House of Commons 33 years ago. For 28 of these years, I have been on the frontline, including sixteen years in a leadership role, here in the Lords and in Scotland." [12]

Honours and awards

In 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. [13]

Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

A longstanding Elder of the Church of Scotland at St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, he was nominated and appointed to be Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2021–2022. [14] [15] [16] It is highly unusual for a lay person to be nominated as Moderator, predecessors being Alison Elliot in 2004 and George Buchanan in 1567. [17]

Personal life

Wallace married Rosemary (née Fraser) a speech therapist in 1983, who he calls "Rosie". The couple has two daughters: Helen and Clare. [18] He has two sons-in-law, Andrew and James, and two granddaughters, Catriona and Ella. Wallace is an elder of the Church of Scotland, attending St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney.

See also

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  1. "Former deputy FM named Church of Scotland moderator". STV News. 27 October 2020. Retrieved 27 October 2020. For the duration of the appointment, Wallace gave up his political affiliation.
  2. "CV: Jim Wallace". BBC News . 2 April 2003. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  3. 1 2 "WALLACE of TANKERNESS, Baron (James Robert Wallace)" . Who's Who . ukwhoswho.com. Vol. 2022 (online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. "Previous MSPs: Session 1 (1999–2003): Jim Wallace MSP". The Scottish Parliament . Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  5. "Previous MSPs: Session 2 (2003–2007): Jim Wallace MSP". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  6. "Former Lib Dem leader made a peer". BBC News . 13 September 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  7. "No. 58495". The London Gazette . 26 October 2007. p. 15513.
  8. "Annual Review 2007 : Principal's Review". www1.hw.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  9. "Lord Wallace's Lifetime of Achievement". The Herald (Glasgow) . 14 November 2008. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  10. "Ministerial role: HM Advocate General for Scotland". UK Government . Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  11. "Jim Wallace to lead Lib Dems in Lords". BBC News. 15 October 2013.
  12. "Jim Wallace resigns as Lib Dem leader in the House of Lords". STV. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  13. "The Rt Hon Lord James Wallace of Tankerness FRSE". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  14. "Former deputy first minister to be Church of Scotland moderator". BBC News. 27 October 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  15. "Lord Wallace inducted as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland". Grampian Online. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  16. "Former deputy first minister Jim Wallace is new Kirk moderator". BBC News . Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  17. "Former Deputy First Minister named Moderator Designate for 2021–22". The Church of Scotland. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  18. "In sickness and in health, but not in tow". Scottish Herald.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Orkney and Shetland

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Liberal Chief Whip in the House of Commons
Position abolished
New office Liberal Democrat Chief Whip in the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
Scottish Parliament
New constituency Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Orkney

Succeeded by
Political offices
New office Deputy First Minister of Scotland
Succeeded by
Minister for Justice
Succeeded by
Preceded by First Minister of Scotland

Succeeded by
Preceded by First Minister of Scotland

Succeeded by
Preceded byas Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by Advocate General for Scotland
Succeeded by
Order of precedence in England and Wales
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Wallace of Tankerness
Followed by
The Lord Stern of Brentford