In the news

September 1, 2000

As the Scottish Qualifications Authority debacle unfolds, the jacket of Scotland's minister for children and education is hanging on an increasingly shoogly (shaky) hook.

The opposition parties continue to demand Sam Galbraith's resignation, with the Scottish Tories tabling a no-confidence motion. Mr Galbraith is resisting strongly, arguing that the fiasco of missing and incomplete examination results has nothing to do with him. The problem is operational, rather than one of policy, he says, and the SQA assured him that adequate procedures were in place.

He appears to have the support of his friend, Scotland's first minister Donald Dewar. But there is speculation that Mr Galbraith will eventually step down.

He has already faced controversy this year when Labour MSPs accused him of mishandling a government compromise on Section 28, the legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Backbenchers claimed he had not explained clearly enough that the Scottish Executive planned to replace the clause with statutory guidance on sex education. This squares with his reputation for arrogance and indifference, although he is equally known for his charm and wit.

Born in Clitheroe in Lancashire in 1945, Mr Galbraith was educated at Greenock High School, graduating from Glasgow University with a first-class honours degree in medicine. Before being elected to the Westminster parliament in 1987 as Labour MP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, he was a respected consultant neurosurgeon in Glasgow.

Following Labour's election victory, he took on the Scottish Office portfolio of minister for health, social work, sport, the arts and children. An accomplished mountaineer whose conquests include the Matterhorn and the Eiger, he was hit by a rare lung disease in 1987, and had a lung transplant in 1990. But he still goes hillwalking regularly.

Olga Wojtas

People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.

Send all information to Lynne Williams. The THES Admiral House 66-68 East Smithfield London E1W 1BXTel 020 7782 3375 Full listings of grants, appointments and honours appear on The THES website

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