George Reid (Scottish politician)

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The Right Honourable
Sir George Reid
George reid msp.jpg
2nd Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
In office
7 May 2003 – 14 May 2007
Preceded by David Steel
Succeeded by Alex Fergusson
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Ochil
In office
3 May 2003 – 7 May 2007
Preceded by Richard Simpson
Succeeded by Keith Brown
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Mid Scotland and Fife
In office
1 May 1999 – 3 May 2003
Personal details
Born (1939-06-04) 4 June 1939 (age 77)
Tullibody, Clackmannanshire
Political party Scottish National Party

Sir George Newlands Reid PC (born 4 June 1939) is a Scottish politician. From February 1974 to 1979 he served as a Scottish National Party Member of Parliament for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire. He was elected in 1999 as a Member of the newly established Scottish Parliament as a regional MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife. From 2003 to 2007 he served as member for the Ochil constituency and was appointed as the Scottish Parliament's second Presiding Officer.

In May 2008, Reid was appointed as the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for the duration of the General Assembly's sitting that year. In 2011, he was appointed as Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire.

Early life and work[edit]

George Reid was born in 1939 at Tullibody, near Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, and educated at Dollar Academy and the University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, where he was awarded an MA with First Class Honours in History in 1962. He then continued with further studies in Switzerland and Union College in the United States, obtaining a diploma in international relations.[1]

He worked as a broadcast journalist and television producer for the BBC, Granada Television and Scottish Television, and as a print journalist for several newspapers. In this time he produced over 200 television documentaries, including Emmy winner Contract 736, about the construction of the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2.[1]

Westminster Parliament[edit]

Reid was elected as the Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of Parliament for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire in the February 1974 general election, with a majority of 3,610.[2] He more than doubled his majority to 7,341 in the October 1974 general election,[3] but then lost by a narrow 984 votes in the UK general election, 1979.[4]

During his time at Westminster he served as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and that of the Western European Union.[5]

Red Cross[edit]

After leaving Westminster he briefly returned to journalism. For BBC Scotland, he presented Agenda, which was produced by Kirsty Wark. He was producer of the famous reportage by Michael Buerk of the Ethiopian famine of 1984 that inspired the Band Aid and Live Aid charity campaigns, which led him to be headhunted by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent.[6] He was Director of Public Affairs there for 12 years, based in Geneva, Switzerland, but working worldwide in conflict and disaster zones. After relief efforts for the 1988 Armenian earthquake he was recognised with the Gold Medal of the Supreme Soviet of Armenia and the Pirogov Gold Medal of the USSR.[5]

The Scottish Parliament[edit]

In 1995 ish Reid re-entered Scottish politics by delivering the annual Donaldson Lecture at the SNP conference, drawing on his knowledge of continental European politics to argue a case for why a party like the SNP could be expected to prosper if a Scottish Parliament was established. Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland George Robertson's contrary claim that devolution would "kill the SNP stone dead" was dismissed by Reid by saying "Ho, ho, ho".[7]

He stood in the Ochil constituency, which covered approximately the same area as his old seat, at Westminster in the UK general election 1997, coming in second.[8] When the new Labour administration moved forward with proposals for a Scottish Parliament, Reid first served on the pre-establishment Consultative Steering Group,[9] and then was elected in the first election in 1999 to represent Mid Scotland and Fife.

At the opening of the Parliament Reid was defeated 82 votes to 44 by Sir David Steel (a Liberal Democrat, the last-ever leader of the British Liberal Party) for the position of Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and was instead elected a Deputy Presiding Officer.[10]

At the 2003 Scottish Parliament Election Reid succeeded in winning the Ochil constituency first past the post.[11] He was then elected by his fellow MSPs to succeed David Steel as Presiding Officer.[12] As the office is non-partisan, he took voluntary suspension from his political party, the SNP.

As the Presiding Officer has a role in advising The Queen, Reid was appointed a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in 2004. At the official opening of the controversial new Scottish Parliament building that year, he made a keynote speech in which he paid tribute to the construction as an architectural achievement, and urged parliamentarians to "listen to the building" to inspire them in their future endeavours.[13]

As Presiding Officer he also led the creation of a Scottish Futures Forum, to promote cross-party strategic thinking.[14] He was appointed President of the Royal Commonwealth Society Scotland,[15] and became Patron of the Scottish Disability Equality Forum.[16] During his time as Presiding Officer he won the Herald newspaper's Scottish Politician of the Year award in 2003 and 2005, making him the only person so far to have won the award on two occasions.[17]

After Presiding Officer[edit]

Reid chose not to seek re-election at the end of the 2007 Parliamentary term. As an independent figure with experience of a devolved parliament, he was chosen to lead a review of the administration of the troubled Northern Ireland Assembly.[18] Reid also joined the European Union's Caucasus-Caspian diplomatic commission.[19] On 19 April 2007 he was made a Freeman of the County of Clackmannanshire.[20]

He was then appointed Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in January 2008, to serve as the Queen's personal representative to the Church of Scotland.[21] This position is second only to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in the ceremonial Order of Precedence.[22] In 2011 he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire.

He also serves as an Honorary Professor in the School of Law at Glasgow University,[23] and holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of St Andrews,[24] University of Edinburgh,[25] University of Stirling and Queen Margaret University.[26] Reid is married with two children.

Reid is also currently in talks with the National Trust for Scotland: he has been asked to lead its impending wide-ranging internal governance review.[27] He has highlighted three key areas for the Trust's report: the report must be properly resourced and completed within six months, it must be a transparent process with regular feedback, and it must be open to all opinions.[28]

He was knighted in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to Scottish politics and public life.[29][30]


  1. ^ a b "University of Glasgow:: Archive:: November". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  2. ^ "UK General Election results: February 1974". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  3. ^ "Not updated: UK General Election results: October 1974". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  4. ^ "Not updated: UK General Election results: May 1979". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  5. ^ a b "Scottish Parliament - News - MSPs welcome international dignitaries to Holyrood". 2007-01-29. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  6. ^ "AW" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  7. ^ "Scots Independence Tour - Oh to be in Britain ?". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  8. ^ Ochil Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "WHISP 55/1". 2000-10-26. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  10. ^ Scottish Parliament (1999-05-12). "Scottish Parliament - Official Report". Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  11. ^ "Ochil". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  12. ^ "Scottish Parliament - Official Report". Archived from the original on 10 November 2005. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  13. ^ "The Scottish Parliament: - About Holyrood - Project History - Building Opens - Presiding Officer's Speech". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  14. ^ Eberhard Bort. "Scottish Affairs, Bort; Annals of the Parish (online article)". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  15. ^ "The Scottish Parliament: Presiding Officer Made President Of Royal Commonwealth Society Scotland". 2005-03-18. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  16. ^ "Personnel". SDEF. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  17. ^ The Herald: Politician 2007: Recipients Archived 5 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "Northern Ireland | Assembly 'should have own staff'". BBC News. 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  19. ^ - The Business of Politics - George Reid receives Russian award Archived 22 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Scotland | Tayside and Central | George Reid poised for top honour". BBC News. 2007-04-16. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  21. ^ "Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland". 2008-01-15. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  22. ^ "Burke's Peerage & Gentry - Article Library". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  23. ^ "University of Glasgow:: A-Z listings:: Staff A-Z". Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  24. ^ "The Scottish Parliament: - News: PO receives honorary degree from St Andrews". 2005-06-23. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  25. ^ News Releases
  26. ^ Crombie Anderson. "Queen Margaret University". GB: Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  27. ^ Jennifer Cunningham (2009-09-25). "Reid to review troubled Trust in late bid to calm its critics - Herald Scotland | News | Home News". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  28. ^ Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, Opening Remarks, National Trust for Scotland Annual General Meeting, 26 September 2009
  29. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60173. p. 1. 16 June 2012.
  30. ^

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Dick Douglas
Member of Parliament for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire
February 19741979
Succeeded by
Martin O'Neill
Scottish Parliament
Preceded by
Richard Simpson
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Ochil
Succeeded by
Keith Brown
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir David Steel
Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
Succeeded by
Alex Fergusson
Political offices
Preceded by
HRH The Duke of York
Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Succeeded by
David Wilson, Baron Wilson of Tillyorn