In the news: Iain Gray

May 10, 2002

Scotland's new "minister for everything" following the shock resignation of Wendy Alexander is Iain Gray, until now minister for social justice. He has inherited Ms Alexander's portfolio of enterprise, transport and lifelong learning. There is speculation that Ms Alexander buckled under a workload expanded by first minister Jack McConnell, making it impossible for Mr McConnell to split the portfolio without bolstering the view that he had overloaded her. Mr Gray lacks Ms Alexander's pizzazz but has won plaudits for his quiet competence. His dark good looks have brought him a fan club among female MSPs, who describe him as the closest thing Holyrood has to George Clooney.

Edinburgh-born Mr Gray, 44, went to school at Inverness Royal Academy and Edinburgh's George Watson's College. He took an honours BSc in physics at Heriot-Watt University followed by teacher training in maths and physics at Moray House College of Education. He was a secondary school teacher for seven years in the Lothians and for two years in Mozambique. He has also worked for Oxfam for more than 12 years, and was campaign manager for Oxfam in Scotland. He is a member of the Transport and General Workers Union.

He became MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands in the first elections to the Scottish Parliament and was appointed deputy minister for community care by the then first minister Donald Dewar, later becoming deputy minister for justice. He became social justice minister during Mr McConnell's "morning of the long knives" Cabinet reshuffle last year, when the then health minister Susan Deacon refused the job. Mr McConnell praised Mr Gray as a "talented minister" whose achievements include the Glasgow housing stock transfer, the biggest single public-sector modernisation project in Europe. Mr Gray said: "I've got a track record in pulling together the partnerships that we need to see for Scotland."

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