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The tough-talking former minister has held more cabinet posts than anyone else in recent history. His media-savvy eloquence and calmness under pressure earned him the Fleet Street soubriquet of ‘Alastair Campbell's first media weapon of choice’. John speaks of life in New Labour’s mission control.
Lord Reid is one of the UK’s most experienced politicians. Over two decades in parliament saw John serve as Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts and hold more ministerial posts at Cabinet level than any other in recent history.
Just a couple of years after first being elected, John was appointed as a shadow minister, first for children, then for defence. He retained the latter post until the 1997 Labour election victory when he was appointed Minister for Defence. Over the next 13 years he served as Minister for Transport, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Secretary of State for Scotland, Health Secretary, Defence Secretary and finally Home Secretary.
It was undoubtedly in this last role that Lord Reid became best known with battles over ID cards, terrorism legislation, and his infamous comment that the immigration service was ‘not fit for purpose’.
Articulate and authoritative, John was one of the strongest advocates of the Blair government and was said to be ‘Alastair Campbell's first media weapon of choice’. His reputation, amongst his allies, as a confident, safe pair of hands contrasted with his opponents’ view of him as the Cabinet’s ‘attack dog’.
Proud of his roots in a Scottish mining village (his father was a postman and his mother a factory worker), John’s political ideology was reinforced by his modest upbringing, the poverty he saw, and the opportunities education presented him. The schoolboy John even lead a strike in protest at a school rule that forced children who arrived early to school to wait outside in all weathers.
A Doctor of Philosophy, University Fellow, pianist, guitarist and folk singer, John has now added Chairman of Celtic Football Club as well a number of other commercial non-exec and advisory roles to his long list of achievements.
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