Donald Gorrie

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Donald Gorrie
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Central Scotland
In office
6 May 1999 – 2 April 2007
Preceded by New Parliament
Succeeded by Hugh O'Donnell
Member of Parliament
for Edinburgh West
In office
1 May 1997 – 7 June 2001
Preceded by Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Succeeded by John Barrett
Personal details
Born Donald Cameron Easterbrook Gorrie
(1933-04-02)2 April 1933
Died 25 August 2012(2012-08-25) (aged 79)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal Democrat
Spouse(s) Astrid Gorrie

Donald Cameron Easterbrook Gorrie[1] (2 April 1933 – 25 August 2012[2]) was a Scottish Liberal Democrat politician, and former Member of the Scottish Parliament for Central Scotland Region. He was also a member of parliament from 1997 until 2001, representing Edinburgh West.

Personal life[edit]

A former athlete, Donald Gorrie held the record for the 880 yards in his youth[citation needed]. He was married to Astrid and had two sons and a number of grandchildren.

His son Robert Gorrie was a Liberal Democrat councillor in Haringey, London, 2006–2014 and was Leader of the Opposition 2008–2011. He also stood for the Scottish Parliament seat of Airdrie and Shotts in the 2007 Scottish elections.

Early career[edit]

After starting his professional career as a schoolteacher, he was Secretary of the Scottish Liberal Party, before becoming an Edinburgh City councillor in 1971. He remained a member of Edinburgh Council until its dissolution in 1976, when he became a member of Lothian Regional Council 1976–96, Edinburgh District Council 1978–96 and the new Edinburgh City Council 1995–97. During this time he stood for election to Westminster in the Edinburgh West constituency four times before finally winning it and becoming the area's MP in 1997.

Scottish Parliament[edit]

But his lifelong passion in politics was to see the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, and sit as a Member of it. So when the Scottish Parliament was established by the referendum of 1997, he announced he would retire from Westminster after just one term as an MP to stand for the new Scottish Parliament. He was therefore elected in 1999, as Liberal Democrat MSP for the Central Scotland region (retiring from Westminster at the next General Election in 2001).


A feisty and independent-minded politician, he was always fiercely loyal to his liberal instincts, and had a particular mistrust of the Labour Party, which he saw as centralist and corrupt. He was firmly on the radical left of the Liberal Democrats, believing in full-scale political reform and significant increases in spending on public services. This put him at odds with the more cautious Liberal Democrat party leadership at the time, and he was often seen as a renegade member of the 'awkward squad,' for example in his implacable opposition to the coalition with the Labour Party formed after the 1999 elections (he was one of only three of his party's MSPs to vote against it).

Gorrie disliked his characterisation as a rebel, pointing to the fact that (unlike the pro-coalition MSPs) he was merely sticking to the Liberal Democrats' manifesto commitments.

Second term[edit]

As time passed, and particularly after he was re-elected for a second term as MSP in 2003, he mellowed, however, and – confined to the backbenches with no hope of ministerial appointment – he concentrated on campaigning on a number of particular themes which interested him. His boldness and eye for publicity endeared him to a media corps that was often starved of stories by the cautious and tightly-controlled party machines that operated at Holyrood, and he became associated with a number of individual causes, like the spiralling cost and mismanagement of the Holyrood building project, and later his campaign against the sectarianism that plagued Scottish society. Though controversial at first, this latter campaign raised the profile of the issue until eventually it was taken up by First Minister Jack McConnell, who instigated a series of legislative attempts to deal with the issue.

Disliked by some (mainly those in what he would term 'the establishment') for the uncompromising stances he has taken, Donald Gorrie is nevertheless widely respected for his consistency of principle and his long record of service to liberal politics and public life in general.[citation needed] He retired from the Scottish Parliament at the 2007 elections. He upset the party leadership in during the campaign by saying the Lib Dems should 'never say never' to an independence referendum – as that would resign them to another coalition with the Labour Party.[3]


  1. ^ "Who's Who". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "BBC News – Former Liberal Democrat MSP Donald Gorrie dies aged 79". Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "UK | Scotland | Lib Dems warned not to shun SNP". BBC News. 19 April 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West
Succeeded by
John Barrett