Douglas Alexander

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The Right Honourable
Douglas Alexander
MP
Douglas Alexander at the India Economic Summit 2008.jpg
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Incumbent
Assumed office
20 January 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Yvette Cooper
Shadow Secretary of State for
Work and Pensions
In office
8 October 2010 – 20 January 2011
Leader Ed Miliband
Preceded by Yvette Cooper
Succeeded by Liam Byrne
Secretary of State for International Development
In office
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Hilary Benn
Succeeded by Andrew Mitchell
Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
6 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Alistair Darling
Succeeded by Des Browne
Secretary of State for Transport
In office
6 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Alistair Darling
Succeeded by Ruth Kelly
Minister of State for Europe
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Denis MacShane
Succeeded by Geoff Hoon
Minister of State for Trade
In office
8 September 2004 – 5 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Mike O'Brien
Succeeded by Ian Pearson
Minister for the Cabinet Office
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
13 June 2003 – 8 September 2004
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by The Lord Macdonald of Tradeston
Succeeded by Alan Milburn
Member of Parliament
for Paisley and Renfrewshire South
Paisley South (1997–2005)
Incumbent
Assumed office
6 November 1997
Preceded by Gordon McMaster
Majority 16,614 (41.54%)
Personal details
Born (1967-10-26) 26 October 1967 (age 46)
Glasgow, Scotland
Political party Labour
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Religion Church of Scotland
Website Official website

Douglas Garven Alexander (born 26 October 1967) is a British Labour Party politician, who is the Shadow Foreign Secretary and the Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South.

Alexander was first elected to Parliament in the Paisley South by-election in 1997. In 2003, he became a minister, and held several positions including Minister of State for Europe from 2005 to 2006. At the 2005 election, Alexander's constituency was abolished, and he was subsequently elected to represent its successor seat of Paisley and Renfrewshire South. In 2006 he was appointed to the Cabinet by Tony Blair, becoming the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Transport. When Gordon Brown replaced Blair as Prime Minister in 2007, Alexander became the Secretary of State for International Development. In 2010, following the election of Ed Miliband as Labour Leader, Alexander was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and was made the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. He held this position until a 2011 reshuffle, when he was appointed Shadow Foreign Secretary. In October 2013, he was appointed by Miliband as the party's Chair of General Election Strategy.

Background[edit]

Alexander was born in Glasgow, the son of a Church of Scotland minister, Douglas N. Alexander, and a doctor. Much of his childhood was spent in Bishopton in Renfrewshire. A prominent member of the 1st Bishopton Company of the Boys Brigade, he played bugle in the Company's marching band helping them win the Scottish BB Marching Band Championship in 1981. Alexander attended Park Mains High School in Erskine, also in Renfrewshire, from where he joined the Labour Party as a schoolboy in 1982.

In 1984 he won a Scottish scholarship to attend Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Canada, where he gained the International Baccalaureate Diploma, returning to Scotland to study politics and modern history at the University of Edinburgh. He spent 1988/89, the third of his four undergraduate years, at the University of Pennsylvania as part of the exchange scheme between Edinburgh and Penn. Whilst studying in America, he worked for Michael Dukakis during the 1988 American presidential election campaign, and he also worked for a Democratic senator in Washington DC. He graduated from Edinburgh with a first-class degree in 1990.

Family and personal life[edit]

His sister, Wendy Alexander, was also involved in politics as an MSP until 2011 and briefly as the Leader of the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament until she resigned in 2008. His father, a Church of Scotland minister, conducted the funeral of the inaugural First Minister of Scotland, Donald Dewar at Glasgow Cathedral in 2000. He is married to Jacqueline Christian and they have two children. He is the great-nephew of Cecil Frances Alexander.[1]

Early career[edit]

In 1990 he worked as a speech-writer and parliamentary researcher for Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary, Gordon Brown. He returned to Edinburgh to study for an LL.B. at Edinburgh University, where he won the Novice Moot Trophy and graduated with Distinction in 1993. He then qualified as a solicitor. On qualifying as a solicitor he worked for a firm of solicitors in Edinburgh, which he left after six months.

Political career[edit]

Perth and Kinross[edit]

Whilst still studying in 1995 and with friends in the local Constituency Labour Party and the backing of his mentor shadow chancellor Gordon Brown, he was selected to be the Scottish Labour Party candidate at the Perth and Kinross by-election caused by the death of the Conservative MP Nicholas Fairbairn. The by-election came in the middle of the John Major government and was won by Roseanna Cunningham of the Scottish National Party, but Alexander received enough votes to push the Conservative candidate into third place. This brought him to the attention of party leader Tony Blair, and shortly after his defeat by the SNP he was welcomed at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness where he spoke immediately before Blair in the critical debate on abolition of Clause 4.4 of the Labour Party Constitution.

The Perth and Kinross constituency was abolished, but Alexander was again chosen to be the Labour candidate in the newly drawn Perth constituency at the 1997 general election. This time, he was pushed into third place behind the SNP and the Conservatives.

Member of Parliament[edit]

On 28 July 1997, Gordon McMaster, the Labour Member of Parliament for Paisley South, committed suicide. Alexander, who grew up in Renfrewshire, was chosen to contest the by-election and he was duly elected to serve as the Member of Parliament for Paisley South on 6 November 1997.

Minister of state[edit]

Alexander took a successful co-ordinating role in his party's campaign for the 2001 general election. He was rewarded by Tony Blair and was appointed as the Minister of State with responsibility for "e-commerce and competitiveness" at the Department of Trade and Industry in June 2001. In May 2002, Alexander was transferred to the Cabinet Office as Minister of State.[2]

In June 2003 Alexander was promoted to Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and in September 2004 was moved to Minister of State for Trade at both the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Cabinet minister[edit]

After the 2005 general election, he was given the role of Minister of State for Europe, part of the Foreign Office, with special provision to attend Cabinet. On 7 June 2005, he was made a Member of the Privy Council. On 5 May 2006 he was appointed Secretary of State for Transport and, simultaneously, Secretary of State for Scotland, replacing Alistair Darling, where he oversaw the running of the 2007 Scottish Parliament election.

Following Gordon Brown's appointment as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007, he appointed Douglas Alexander as Secretary of State for International Development.

Ken Livingstone row[edit]

In September 2012 Douglas Alexander gave an interview to the Evening Standard newspaper criticising Ken Livingstone's election campaign saying Livingstone paid the "deserved price" when he lost the London mayoral election.[3] Livingstone hit back on Twitter, saying the Shadow Foreign Secretary "represents a failed New Labour project that lost millions of votes". He also invited him to discuss the issue on his radio show.[4]

Views on the European Union[edit]

On 17 January 2013 in a speech to London thinktank Chatham House, Douglas Alexander outlined his support for the UK to remain a member in the European Union but would not support a federal United States of Europe.[5]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gordon McMaster
Member of Parliament for Paisley South
19972005
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South
2005–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Macdonald of Tradeston
Minister for the Cabinet Office
2003–2004
Succeeded by
Alan Milburn
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
2003–2004
Preceded by
Mike O'Brien
Minister of State for Trade
2004–2005
Succeeded by
Ian Pearson
Preceded by
Denis MacShane
Minister of State for Europe
2005–2006
Succeeded by
Geoff Hoon
Preceded by
Alistair Darling
Secretary of State for Transport
2006–2007
Succeeded by
Ruth Kelly
Secretary of State for Scotland
2006–2007
Succeeded by
Des Browne
Preceded by
Hilary Benn
Secretary of State for International Development
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Andrew Mitchell
Preceded by
Yvette Cooper
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
2010–2011
Succeeded by
Liam Byrne
Preceded by
Yvette Cooper
Shadow Foreign Secretary
2011–present
Incumbent