Iain Gray

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Iain Gray

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
In office
13 June 2015 – 15 August 2015
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byKezia Dugdale
In office
13 September 2008 – 17 December 2011
DeputyJohann Lamont
Preceded byWendy Alexander
Succeeded byJohann Lamont
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for East Lothian
Assumed office
3 May 2007
Preceded byJohn Home Robertson
Majority1,127 (3%)
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Edinburgh Pentlands
In office
6 May 1999 – 1 May 2003
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byDavid McLetchie
Majority2,885 (7.3%)
Personal details
Born (1957-06-07) 7 June 1957 (age 62)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Gil Gray
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh

Iain Cumming Gray (born 7 June 1957) is a Scottish politician, currently a Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the East Lothian constituency. He was the Leader of Scottish Labour in the Scottish Parliament from 13 September 2008 to 17 December 2011. Gray resigned following his party's defeat at the 2011 Scottish Parliament election however, due to his experience; was selected as interim leader following the resignation of Jim Murphy after Scottish Labour's landslide defeat at the 2015 general election; where they lost forty seats to the SNP and only retained a single seat.

A former aid worker and teacher of Maths and Physics, Gray was first elected to the devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999 as the MSP for the Edinburgh Pentlands constituency, which he lost to the-then Scottish Conservative Party leader, David McLetchie in 2003. Gray was returned to Holyrood in 2007, as the MSP for East Lothian. Following Wendy Alexander's resignation as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party in 2008, Gray stood at the subsequent leadership election, and was elected with a 57.8% share of the vote in the second round.

Initially, Gray oversaw some electoral successes for Scottish Labour, such as repelling SNP challenges at the Glenrothes (2008) and Glasgow North East (2009) by-elections, as well as seeing Scottish Labour retain all their 41 seats in the House of Commons at the 2010 general election; despite the election resulting in first UK hung parliament in 36 years, and the Labour Party being defeated after thirteen years in government. The 2011 Scottish Parliament elections proved disastrous for the party, which lost 20 seats as the SNP won an outright majority of seats. Gray himself was only re-elected as MSP for East Lothian with a narrow majority of 151 votes. Gray announced his resignation the day after the result, but remained in post as leader until his successor, Johann Lamont, took over in December 2011.

In June 2015, Gray was appointed Acting Leader of Scottish Labour whilst a leadership and a deputy leadership election were being simultaneously held, on account of the Deputy Leader, Kezia Dugdale, resigning to run for Leader.[2]

Background and early career[edit]

Gray was educated at Inverness Royal Academy[3] and privately at George Watson's College, Edinburgh before studying physics at the University of Edinburgh and training as a maths and physics teacher at Moray House College of Education.[3][4] After graduation he worked as a maths and physics teacher at Gracemount High School in Edinburgh,[5] before a teaching stint in Mozambique.[5] He then spent twelve years as the Campaigns Director for the Scottish arm of the aid charity Oxfam. Gray is a lifelong fan of Edinburgh football club Hibernian,[6] and enjoys reading, music and hill walking.

Gray has been married twice.[7] His first wife, Linda Malloch, divorced him and later married Gray's long-time friend Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner.[8] Gray married his second wife Gill (a part-time constituency secretary to Labour MSP Mary Mulligan) in 1997, with whom he has two step-daughters.[9]

Political career[edit]

Iain Gray has stood as a candidate in Lothian Regional Council elections.[10]

In 1999, immediately after his election to Holyrood he was made a deputy minister in the first Scottish Executive under Donald Dewar and following Jack McConnell becoming First Minister in 2001 he was promoted to Minister for Social Justice. After the sudden resignation of Wendy Alexander (following disagreements with McConnell) in 2002,[11] Gray took over her role as Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning, where he was responsible for overseeing changes to Scottish higher education.

At the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, Gray was defeated by Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie, who he had stood against in 1999. Leaving Holyrood, he went to work as a special adviser under Secretary of State Alistair Darling MP at the Scotland Office in London[12] and initially announced that he would not be seeking re-election.

Having subsequently a change of mind, he was selected as the official Labour candidate for East Lothian for the 2007 election and subsequently won. Gray was appointed as Scottish Labour's Shadow spokesman for enterprise, energy and tourism upon his return to Holyrood.

Following the resignation of Wendy Alexander over a foreign donation scandal,[13] Gray announced in July 2008 that he would stand in the contest to find the next Leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parliament, and was elected to this post in September 2008.[14]

In December 2010, Iain Gray sparked a diplomatic row when he appeared to claim in parliament that Montenegro had been involved in ethnic cleansing and war crimes during the 1990s Balkans Conflict.[15]

On 7 April 2011, whilst campaigning at Glasgow Central station for the Scottish Parliament election, Gray was forced to cancel an event due to disruption by a group protesting against public spending cuts.[16] He quickly left the station and ran into a nearby Subway outlet to escape the protesters, who followed him into the shop and continued to heckle him.[16] Gray later stated that he had not been unsettled by the incident as "I spent two years working in the civil war in Mozambique, I've been to Rwanda two months after the genocide, I walked the killing fields in Cambodia and I was in Chile three days after Pinochet was demitted from office".[17]

At the 2011 election, Labour suffered a net loss of seven seats, with many of their leading figures being defeated. Labour took a particularly severe beating in its Central Belt heartland, having to rely on regional lists in many cases. It was Labour's worst electoral performance in Scotland in eighty years. Gray himself was re-elected as MSP for East Lothian by the narrowest margin of his political career; with just 151 votes over the SNP candidate, making the Holyrood seat for the first time ever a Labour–SNP marginal. He announced on 6 May that he would stand down as party leader in the autumn.

Gray was reappointed to the post of Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet on 29 June 2013.

On 13 June 2015, Gray was appointed Acting Leader of the Scottish Labour Party whilst a leadership and a deputy leadership election were simultaneously held, on account of the Deputy Leader, Kezia Dugdale, resigning to run for the leadership.[2] At the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, while several Labour MSPs lost their seats, Gray retained his seat with an increased majority compared to 2011.


  1. ^ Deveney, Catherine (27 March 2011). "Interview: Iain Gray, Scottish Labour leader". Scotland on Sunday. Edinburgh. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Scottish Labour agree to swathe of party reforms – and new leader will be announced on August 15th". LabourList. 13 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b Wojtas, Olga (10 May 2002). "In the news: Iain Gray". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 April 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Mulholland, Helene (8 August 2008). "Scottish Labour leadership: who is running?". guardian.co.uk. London. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  6. ^ Aitken, Mark (16 January 2011). "Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray reveals how he fell for wife – at the football". Sunday Mail. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Bowditch, Gillian (4 October 2008). "The colourful side of Labours Gray man". The Times. London.
  9. ^ Brady, Brian; Allardyce, Jason; MacLeod, Murdo (28 April 2002). "Politicians keep it in the family while taxpayers pay the price". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  10. ^ "Who's who in the Scottish Cabinet". BBC News. 28 November 2001.
  11. ^ "Profile: Wendy Alexander". The Daily Telegraph. London. 16 August 2007.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Wendy Alexander: Labour's short-lived Scottish leader". The Guardian. London. 28 June 2008.
  14. ^ "Gray becomes Scots Labour leader". bbc.co.uk. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  15. ^ http://www.scotsman.com/news/iain_gray_urged_to_say_sorry_after_ethnic_cleansing_gaffe_sparks_diplomatic_row_1_1523919
  16. ^ a b "Scottish election: Iain Gray targeted by protesters". BBC News. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  17. ^ "Iain Gray seeks refuge in Subway sandwich shop after being confronted by protesters". STV News. 7 April 2011. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011.

External links[edit]

Scottish Parliament
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of the Scottish Parliament for Edinburgh Pentlands
Succeeded by
David McLetchie
Preceded by
John Home Robertson
Member of the Scottish Parliament for East Lothian
Political offices
Preceded by
Wendy Alexander
Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning
Succeeded by
Jim Wallace
Preceded by
Jackie Baillie
Minister for Social Justice
Succeeded by
Margaret Curran
Preceded by
Angus MacKay
Deputy Minister for Justice
Succeeded by
Richard Simpson
Preceded by
Office Created
Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care
Succeeded by
Malcolm Chisholm
Party political offices
Preceded by
Wendy Alexander
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
Succeeded by
Johann Lamont
Preceded by
Jim Murphy
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Succeeded by
Kezia Dugdale