Douglas Alexander

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The Right Honourable
Douglas Alexander
Douglas Alexander MP at Chatham House 2015 crop.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
20 January 2011 – 11 May 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byYvette Cooper
Succeeded byHilary Benn
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
In office
8 October 2010 – 20 January 2011
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byYvette Cooper
Succeeded byLiam Byrne
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
In office
11 May 2010 – 8 October 2010
LeaderHarriet Harman (Acting)
Ed Miliband
Preceded byAndrew Mitchell
Succeeded byHarriet Harman
Secretary of State for International Development
In office
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byHilary Benn
Succeeded byAndrew Mitchell
Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
6 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byAlistair Darling
Succeeded byDes Browne
Secretary of State for Transport
In office
6 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byAlistair Darling
Succeeded byRuth Kelly
Minister of State for Europe
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byDenis MacShane
Succeeded byGeoff Hoon (Minister)
Minister of State for Trade
In office
8 September 2004 – 5 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byMike O'Brien
Succeeded byIan Pearson
Minister for the Cabinet Office
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
13 June 2003 – 8 September 2004
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byThe Lord Macdonald of Tradeston
Succeeded byAlan Milburn
Member of Parliament
for Paisley and Renfrewshire South
Paisley South (1997–2005)
In office
6 November 1997 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byGordon McMaster
Succeeded byMhairi Black
Personal details
BornDouglas Garven Alexander
(1967-10-26) 26 October 1967 (age 51)
Glasgow, Scotland
NationalityScottish
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Jacqueline Christian
Children2
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
WebsiteOfficial website

Douglas Garven Alexander (born 26 October 1967) is a British Labour Party politician who served in the Cabinet from 2006 to 2010 under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the roles of Secretary of State for Scotland, Secretary of State for Transport and Secretary of State for International Development. He subsequently served in Labour leader Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Shadow Foreign Secretary. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1997 to 2015, representing the Scottish constituencies of Paisley South (1997–2005) and Paisley and Renfrewshire South (2005–15).

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 2005–06. At the 2005 general election, the Paisley South constituency was abolished and Alexander was elected to represent its successor seat of Paisley and Renfrewshire South. He was appointed to the Cabinet by Tony Blair in 2006, serving as both Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Transport. When Gordon Brown replaced Blair as Prime Minister in 2007, Alexander became the Secretary of State for International Development.

After Labour lost the 2010 general election and Ed Miliband became the party's 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. In 2015, he failed to be re-elected to the Paisley and Renfrewshire South seat in the House of Commons, when it was won by Mhairi Black of the Scottish National Party.

Background[edit]

Alexander was born in Glasgow, the son of Dr Joyce O. Alexander and Douglas N. Alexander, a Church of Scotland minister.[1] 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 the two universities. When studying in America, he worked for Michael Dukakis during the 1988 American presidential election campaign, and also worked for a Democratic senator in Washington DC. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a first-class degree in 1990.[1]

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 married Jacqueline Christian in 2000, and together they have a daughter and a son.[1] He is the great-nephew of Cecil Frances Alexander.[2]

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 the University of Edinburgh, 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.

When the Perth and Kinross constituency was abolished, Alexander was 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. He lost his seat to 20-year-old Mhairi Black of the Scottish National Party at the General Election on 8 May 2015.

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.[3]

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.

During his time as Scottish Secretary, Alexander faced calls for his resignation over his role in overseeing the running of the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, when over 150,000 votes were discounted. An independent inquiry, chaired by Canadian election official Ron Gould, found that Douglas Alexander's "self-interested" moves to change electoral rules in Labour's favour led to the debacle that saw nearly 150,000 votes wasted.[4]

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

Election campaign leader[edit]

Alexander led the led Labour 2010 general election campaign, and later in that year led David Miliband's campaign for the leadership of the Labour party.[5][6] He subsequently was Ed Miliband's chair of general election strategy for the Labour 2015 general election campaign.[5][7]

Ken Livingstone row[edit]

In September 2012 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.[8] 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.[9]

Views on the European Union[edit]

On 17 January 2013 in a speech to the London-based foreign policy think-tank Chatham House, Alexander outlined his support for the UK to remain a full member state of the European Union but would not support a federal United States of Europe.[10]

Later career[edit]

After losing the election, Alexander became a Fisher Family Fellow at Harvard University and a visiting professor at King’s College London's Policy Institute. In November 2015 Alexander started working for Bono, helping secure investment to tackle global poverty.[11][12] In March 2016 Alexander joined the Pinsent Masons law firm as a "strategic advisor".[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Alexander, Rt Hon. Douglas (Garven), (born 26 Oct. 1967), PC 2005". Who's Who. Oxford University Press. 2007-12-01. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.5212.
  2. ^ "BBC Two - The Truth About Christmas Carols". BBC.
  3. ^ "No. 10 – Douglas Alexander MP". Archived from the original on 9 May 2005.
  4. ^ "Douglas Alexander in dock over election fiasco". The Daily Telegraph. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  5. ^ a b Pickard, Jim (5 March 2015). "Labour poll general Douglas Alexander faces dire SNP threat". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  6. ^ Bernstein, Jon (4 June 2010). "Why Douglas chose David, not Ed". New Statesman. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  7. ^ Wintour, Patrick (3 June 2015). "The undoing of Ed Miliband - and how Labour lost the election". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  8. ^ Murphy, Joe (28 September 2012). "Douglas Alexander: I blame Ken for losing to Boris. He paid a deserved price for errors he made". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Alexander sparks Ken row". PoliticsHome. London: Dods Parliamentary Communications. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  10. ^ Labour Party says no to a United States of Europe Archived 20 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Pickard, Jim (29 November 2015). "U2's Bono hires Douglas Alexander as adviser". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  12. ^ Swindon, Peter (29 November 2015). "Guess who Douglas Alexander has as a new BFF? ... It's Bono". The Herald. Scotland. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  13. ^ Jonathon Manning (1 March 2016). "Pinsents appoints former Labour MP Douglas Alexander as Brexit adviser". The Lawyer. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  14. ^ Sanderson, Daniel (2 March 2016). "Ousted MP Douglas Alexander takes job with legal firm". The Herald. Scotland. Retrieved 27 April 2017.

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

20052015
Succeeded by
Mhairi Black
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
Andrew Mitchell
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
2010
Succeeded by
Harriet Harman
Preceded by
Yvette Cooper
Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
2010–2011
Succeeded by
Liam Byrne
Shadow Foreign Secretary
2011–2015
Succeeded by
Hilary Benn