David Cairns (politician)

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David Cairns
David Cairns (cropped).jpg
Minister of State for Scotland
In office
1 July 2007 – 16 September 2008
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by George Foulkes, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock
Succeeded by Ann McKechin
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Scotland Office
In office
11 May 2005 – July 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
Preceded by Anne McGuire
Succeeded by Ann McKechin
Member of Parliament
for Inverclyde
Greenock and Inverclyde (2001–2005)
In office
7 June 2001 – 9 May 2011
Preceded by Norman Godman
Succeeded by Iain McKenzie
Personal details
Born (1966-08-07)7 August 1966
Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Died 9 May 2011(2011-05-09) (aged 44)
Bloomsbury, London, England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Alma mater Pontifical Gregorian University

John David Cairns (7 August 1966 – 9 May 2011)[1] was a Scottish Labour Party politician, who was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 2001 until his death. He represented the constituency of Inverclyde. He was the Minister of State at the Scotland Office until he resigned on 16 September 2008.[2] He died from complications of acute pancreatitis on 9 May 2011, aged 44.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Cairns was born and raised in Greenock.[5] He attended Notre Dame High School in the town, before training for the Roman Catholic priesthood at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He continued his studies at the Franciscan International Centre in Canterbury.[6]

From 1991 he served as a priest in Scotland and in London before politics drew him to leave the priesthood in 1994 to become a director of the Christian Socialist Movement. In 1997 he became a research assistant to then newly elected Labour MP, Siobhain McDonagh until he himself became an MP in 2001. In 1998 he was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Merton where he served until 2002.[citation needed]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Cairns had ambitions to enter House of Commons but was barred due to the House of Commons (Clergy Disqualification) Act 1801 and the Catholic Relief Act 1829 which prevented present or former Roman Catholic priests from being elected to Parliament. To rectify this, Siobhain McDonagh MP introduced the House of Commons Disqualification (Amendment) Bill in Parliament on 16 June 1999,[7] but the Bill failed. The government subsequently introduced the House of Commons (Removal of Clergy Disqualification) Bill, which removed almost all restrictions on clergy of whatever denomination from sitting in the House of Commons. The only exception is Church of England (Anglican) bishops, due to their reserved status as members of the House of Lords. The bill passed on 11 May 2001.[8]

Cairns had already been selected as the Labour candidate in his home town following the retirement of Norman Godman. He was elected as the Labour MP for Greenock and Inverclyde at the 2001 General Election with a majority of 9,890, becoming the first person born in Greenock to represent it in Parliament. He made his maiden speech on 4 July 2001.[9]

Cairns was appointed the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions Malcolm Wicks in 2003, and following the 2005 General Election, at which, due to the redrawing of boundaries his constituency was abolished and replaced with a larger Inverclyde constituency, he became a member of the Labour government as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. He then had the Northern Ireland Office added to his responsibilities and in 2007 he became the Minister of State at the Scotland Office. Cairns was Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, and while he gave up the position when becoming a junior minister, he remained a committed member of the group.

On 16 September 2008, Cairns resigned from the government during arguments in the Labour party over Gordon Brown's leadership,[10] saying that the time had come to "allow a leadership debate to run its course". The Inverclyde MP was the first minister to resign after rebel MPs began calling for a leadership contest.[11] In the 2010 General Election, Cairns was returned as Member of Parliament for his constituency of Inverclyde with a majority of 14,416, which was an increase on his previous election.[12]

Personal life and death[edit]

Cairns was openly gay.[13] He was taken to hospital in March 2011, suffering from acute pancreatitis, and died on 9 May. He is survived by his partner, Dermot Kehoe.[1][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Politics Obituaries – David Cairns". The Telegraph. 10 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  2. ^ "Minister quits in Brown protest". BBC. 16 September 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008. 
  3. ^ "Former Scotland Office minister David Cairns dies aged 44". The Telegraph. 10 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Inverclyde MP David Cairns dies after illness". Jewish Chronicle. 10 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "David Cairns 1966–2011". Tom Harris. 10 May 2011. Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Franciscans website
  7. ^ Hansard, 16 June 1999
  8. ^ House of Commons (Removal of Clergy Disqualification) Act 2001
  9. ^ Hansard, 4 July 2001
  10. ^ Porter, Andrew (16 September 2008). "Gordon Brown leadership crisis: Rebel MP David Cairns resigns". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  11. ^ BBC News (16 September 2008). "Politics – Minister quits in Brown protest". Retrieved 17 September 2008. 
  12. ^ "Election 2010 results for Inverclyde". BBC News. 
  13. ^ LGBT Labour Archived 29 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine., retrieved 26 March 2011
  14. ^ Guardian obituary

External links[edit]

Video clips[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Norman Godman
Member of Parliament for Greenock and Inverclyde
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Inverclyde
Succeeded by
Iain McKenzie