John Reid, Baron Reid of Cardowan

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The Lord Reid of Cardowan
Official portrait, 2020
Home Secretary
In office
5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byCharles Clarke
Succeeded byJacqui Smith
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
6 May 2005 – 5 May 2006
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byGeoff Hoon
Succeeded byDes Browne
Secretary of State for Health
In office
13 June 2003 – 6 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byAlan Milburn
Succeeded byPatricia Hewitt
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
4 April 2003 – 13 June 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
DeputyBen Bradshaw
Preceded byRobin Cook
Succeeded byPeter Hain
Lord President of the Council
In office
4 April 2003 – 13 June 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byRobin Cook
Succeeded byThe Lord Williams of Mostyn
Minister without Portfolio
Chairman of the Labour Party
In office
24 October 2002 – 4 April 2003
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byCharles Clarke
Succeeded byIan McCartney
First Minister of Northern Ireland
as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
14 October 2002 – 24 October 2002
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byDavid Trimble (FM)
Mark Durkan (dFM)
Succeeded byPaul Murphy
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
25 January 2001 – 24 October 2002
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byPeter Mandelson
Succeeded byPaul Murphy
Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
17 May 1999 – 25 January 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byDonald Dewar
Succeeded byHelen Liddell
Junior ministerial offices
Minister of State for Transport
In office
27 July 1998 – 17 May 1999
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Sec. of StateJohn Prescott
Preceded byGavin Strang
Succeeded byHelen Liddell
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
In office
2 May 1997 – 27 July 1998
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Sec. of StateGeorge Robertson
Preceded byNicholas Soames
Succeeded byDoug Henderson
Parliamentary offices
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
16 July 2010
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Airdrie and Shotts
In office
5 May 2005 – 12 April 2010
Preceded byHelen Liddell
Succeeded byPamela Nash
Member of Parliament
for Hamilton North and Bellshill
Motherwell North (1987–1997)
In office
11 June 1987 – 12 April 2005
Preceded byJames Hamilton
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
John Reid

(1947-05-08) 8 May 1947 (age 76)
Bellshill Maternity Hospital, North Lanarkshire, Scotland
Political partyLabour (since 1979)
Other political
Communist Party of Great Britain (1972–1979)
Young Communist League (1972–1979)
  • Cathie McGowan
    (m. 1969; died 1998)
  • (m. 2002)
ChildrenKevin · Mark
Alma materThe Open University
University of Stirling
(BA, PhD)
WebsiteOfficial website

John Reid, Baron Reid of Cardowan PC (born 8 May 1947) is a British politician. A member of the Labour Party, he has held various Cabinet positions under Prime Minister Tony Blair from 1999 to 2007, lastly as Home Secretary from 2006 to 2007. He was also a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1987 to 2010, and has been a Member of the House of Lords since 2010.

Born in Bellshill to working-class, Roman Catholic parents, Reid first became involved in politics when he joined the Young Communist League in 1972.[1] He later joined the Labour Party, working for them as a senior researcher before being elected to the House of Commons in 1987 as the MP for Motherwell North. He served as a junior minister in two departments from 1997, before he was promoted to the Cabinet in 1999; he served continuously in the Cabinet until Blair resigned in 2007. Reid served as Scottish Secretary from 1999 to 2001, Northern Ireland Secretary from 2001 to 2002, Chairman of the Labour Party and Minister without Portfolio from 2002 to 2003, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council in 2003, Health Secretary from 2003 to 2005, Defence Secretary from 2005 to 2006, and Home Secretary from 2006 to 2007.

He retired from frontline politics in 2007 following Gordon Brown's appointment as Prime Minister, taking on a role as the Chairman of Celtic Football Club. After stepping down as an MP in 2010, he was nominated for a life peerage in the Dissolution Honours and elevated to the House of Lords. Reid took a leading role in the campaign for a "No" vote in the 2011 AV referendum, appearing alongside Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, and also took a leading role in the campaign opposing Scottish independence.


Reid was born in Bellshill Maternity Hospital,[2] North Lanarkshire, Scotland, to working-class Roman Catholic parents; his grandparents were of mixed denomination. His grandfather was "a staunch Church of Scotland Presbyterian and his grandmother a poor and illiterate Irish peasant."[3] His mother, Mary, was a factory worker and his father, Thomas, was a postman.[3]

Reid attended St Patrick's High School, Coatbridge.[3] The adolescent Reid showed an early talent for organisation and political activism by leading a student strike in protest at a school rule.[3] Reid initially decided not to go to university but instead took a series of jobs, including construction work on an oil pipeline and another in insurance;[4][3] at the latter job, which Reid later claimed opened his eyes politically,[3][4] he was assigned to the tenements in the East End of Glasgow after the city was hit by storms in late-1968 and saw poverty of a kind he did not know existed. Soon after this experience, he joined the Labour Party.[3]

Around this time Reid's passion for history was kindled when his girlfriend (and later wife), Cathie McGowan, bought him a copy of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. Reid was spellbound.[3] Following this he attended the Open University in his mid-twenties to study a Foundation Course and then later attended the University of Stirling, becoming rector of the Students' Union[3][5] and gaining a BA in history and a PhD in economic history, with a thesis on the slave trade written as a critique of the Marxist model of historical change, titled Warrior Aristocrats in Crisis: the political effects of the transition from the slave trade to palm oil commerce in the nineteenth century Kingdom of Dahomey.[6][7]

From 1979 to 1983, Reid was a research officer for the Labour Party in Scotland, and from 1983 to 1985, was a political adviser to Labour leader Neil Kinnock. From 1986 to 1987, he was Scottish Organiser of Trade Unionists for Labour.[8] He entered parliament at the 1987 general election as MP for the Motherwell North constituency. After boundary changes, he was returned at the 1997 election for the new constituency of Hamilton North and Bellshill; and after further boundary changes in 2005, he was returned at the 2005 election for the new constituency of Airdrie and Shotts with 59% of the votes cast.[6]

Reid was married to Cathie McGowan from 1969[9] until her sudden death from a heart attack in 1998.[6][10] They had two sons, Kevin and Mark. In 2002, he married film director Carine Adler.[11]

According to The Guardian, in 1991, Reid arrived at the House of Commons "drunk one day and tried to force his way on to the floor to vote. When an attendant stepped forward to stop him, Reid threw a punch".[9] Reid stopped drinking in 1994 and gave up his 60-a-day cigarette habit in 2003.[12][13]

Political ideology[edit]

At university, Reid was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.[14] With the support of Communist and Labour students, he became president of the students' union.[1] After leaving university, he became a professional Labour Party activist, linked politically with Neil Kinnock.[15]

As an advisor to Neil Kinnock, Reid was one of the earliest advocates for reforms to the Labour Party.[3] In 1983, after the Labour Party's worst electoral defeat in 65 years, and at Kinnock's request, he put on a single sheet of paper what he thought had made Labour unelectable: "Leaderless, unpatriotic, dominated by demagogues, policies fifteen years out of date".[3] Elected to Parliament in 1987 as the Member of Parliament for Motherwell North, within two years he was appointed to the Shadow Front Bench as spokesperson for Children. In 1990, Reid was appointed as Defence spokesperson.[3]

When the former Yugoslavia was breaking up in the 1990s, Reid was in dialogue with the Bosnian Serbs.[16] During the Bosnian War, Reid struck up a friendship with Radovan Karadžić, later to be indicted as a war criminal. Reid admitted he spent three days at a luxury Geneva lakeside hotel as a guest of Karadžić in 1993.[7]

Government career[edit]

Minister of State for the Armed Forces[edit]

After Labour came to power at the 1997 general election, Reid became Armed Forces Minister, where he played a key role in the Defence Secretary George Robertson's Strategic Defence Review.[3] Reid gained considerable praise for the review; with some commentators going so far as to describe his success in cutting military expenditure at the same time as winning over the defence chiefs as "brilliant".[6][7] As Minister he lobbied for the release of two Scots Guards convicted of murdering teenager Peter McBride in Belfast in 1992. At the same time he refused requests to meet the McBride family.[17] Reid eventually met with the McBride family whilst he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.[18]

Minister for Transport[edit]

In 1998, Reid moved from Defence to become Minister of State for Transport.[19] Prime Minister Tony Blair then sent Reid to the Department of Transport to ensure the late-running and over-budget London Underground Jubilee Line Extension was completed by the end of 2000.[20] He and John Prescott brought in Bechtel as Project Managers, ensuring Phase 1 was opened on 1 May 1999, and the whole Jubilee line with the exception of one station (Westminster) was ultimately open for business by the Millennium.[20] Reid demonstrated several aspects: he negotiated strongly; he was a political fighter; he had a "capacity for non-dogmatic adaptability and reliability";[21] and was described as "a safe pair of hands".[22]

Secretary of State for Scotland[edit]

Having impressed at both Transport and Defence Reid was promoted to Secretary of State for Scotland on 17 May 1999 and a full place at the cabinet table.[19]

In his first month, the Scottish Parliament was re-established after an interval of 300 years.[23] The reconstituted Scotland Office had been much reduced in importance with devolution but Reid used the position to build his profile, prepared to put the government's case on any issue against TV interviewers.[24]

After Donald Dewar, Scotland's respected First Minister, died in 2000 Reid's name was even mentioned as a possible replacement.[24] In fact Reid was left to deal with much of the fall-out after the death and would be increasingly at loggerheads with the new Labour First Minister, Henry McLeish, whom Reid felt was taking the Parliament down a nationalist path.[7] The situation became so strained between the two that in an unguarded moment McLeish publicly labelled Reid "a patronising bastard".[25]

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland[edit]

Reid became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in January 2001 following the resignation of Peter Mandelson. He was the first Roman Catholic to hold the position.[26] While dismissing the personal significance of this, he used it to insist that every person in Northern Ireland, from whatever background or tradition, wanted a prosperous future.[7]

Throughout his period of office he was continually engaged in talks with all side of the community in an attempt to reduce the level of inter-community troubles.[27] He blamed paramilitaries from both sides of the community for the ongoing violence. He confronted both, on the ground, at a violent east Belfast interface, where he met loyalist residents of Cluan Place and then had talks with nationalist residents in the nearby Short Strand.[28]

Reid ruled that ceasefires proclaimed by the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force could no longer be recognised by the government because of their involvement in sectarian attacks and murders.[29] At the same time he put pressure on the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) to make a move on arms decommissioning to help end the political impasse, whilst acknowledging that putting its weapons beyond use would be a difficult step to take.[30]

It was in this context that, in October 2001 he welcomed a Gerry Adams speech as a "highly significant" step which he hoped would pave the way for a "groundbreaking" move by the IRA to disarm which would transform the political situation.[31] And following the IRA's decision Reid responded by announcing the immediate demolition of British Army security bases and announcing a reduction in troop levels as the security situation improved,[32] effectively beginning a process which culminated in September 2005, when the disarmament monitor for Northern Ireland, the Canadian General John de Chastelain announced that the IRA had given up its entire arsenal of weapons after more than three decades of armed struggle against British rule.[33]

Reid oversaw the final stages of the transformation of the RUC into the Police Service Northern Ireland, and the first endorsement of the service by representatives of the Nationalist community.[34]

Political problems continued, resulting in the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly a year later in October 2002.[35] The peace process was to be put on hold until there was a "clear and unequivocal commitment" that the IRA would disband. Reid made an emergency statement to Parliament announcing direct rule in the interim.[36]

In the interim, Reid also had to deal with continuing domestic problems; including those with loyalist ceasefires, sectarian murders and the tinderbox of Holy Cross primary school in north Belfast (that ignited the worst rioting in the city in years). But, so far as 10 Downing Street was concerned, Reid had gone a long way to delivering the rarest of political commodities – success in Northern Ireland.[7]

Chairman of the Labour Party and Minister without Portfolio[edit]

Reid was appointed Chairman of the Labour Party and Minister Without Portfolio on 24 October 2002.[37]

In this purely political post, his trouble-shooting skills were employed as the Labour Government's chief spokesperson; this earned him the nickname "Minister for the Today Programme".

One of Reid's key challenges was to keep the trade unions (the Labour Party's main funders) onside despite the antipathy shown by the unions to many of the Government's proposals. As part of this, Reid agreed to look at proposals to stop private contractors exploiting low-paid workers (a key union demand).[38]

Reid and United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answer press questions in Taormina, Sicily (9 February 2006)

Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council[edit]

In March 2003, Robin Cook resigned as Leader of the House of Commons due to his objections to the legality of Britain's involvement in the Iraq War. Reid was appointed to take over the role on 4 April; it was thought that a heavyweight figure was more likely to ensure the Commons' continued support for the war.[39] He held the position for only a little over two months and was succeeded by a more junior member of the Government, Peter Hain.

Secretary of State for Health[edit]

Reid was made Secretary of State for Health in June 2003, replacing Alan Milburn after the latter's resignation. He was reportedly less than happy with the appointment. He was reported by Private Eye at the time as reacting "Oh fuck, not health."[40] But Reid had established himself as one of Tony Blair's most trusted ministers, and his appointment as Health Secretary took him into his fourth cabinet job in less than a year.[21]

At Health, Reid saw himself as a reformer, controversially increasing capacity by introducing private companies to run treatment centres for knee, hip and eye operations. He claimed this provided extra staff and extra capacity to help treat more patients in the NHS at an unprecedented rate.[41]

Reid also introduced plans to increase the number of smoke-free workplaces and improve diet and sexual health as part of a major drive to improve public health in England[42] and began a major public consultation as a precursor to parliamentary proposals aimed at improving the nation's health.[43] He also encouraged volunteer engagement in the health service.[44]

Many of his changes caused criticism and controversy, which Reid was not afraid to take head on, delivering a staunch defence of Labour's reform programme to the party's annual conference. He made the case for extending to all the choices normally only available to those who could afford them.[6] Reid's management style was considered autocratic by some and he came under considerable fire from National Health Service (NHS) leaders.[45] He was criticized for giving GPs a 22% pay rise while also allowing them to opt out of providing weekend and evening treatment.[46]

As Health Secretary, Reid had been in favour of limiting the government's proposed smoking ban as much as possible. In their 2005 election manifesto, he introduced a pledge to ban smoking in all places where food was served. His successor Patricia Hewitt favoured a complete ban. Reid won in the cabinet, gaining an exemption for private clubs and pubs that did not serve food.[47] The House of Commons rebels proposing a complete ban were successful when MPs were given a free vote on the issue. Patricia Hewitt voted with the rebels against the Cabinet's proposals.[48]

Secretary of State for Defence[edit]

Reid answers questions at a Pentagon briefing on 7 November 2005.

Following the incumbent Labour Party's 2005 general election victory, Reid was appointed Secretary of State for Defence. He replaced Geoff Hoon.[49]

At Defence, Reid questioned "the adequacy of the international legal framework in the light of modern developments in conflict". He suggested that "the body of relevant international rules and conventions should, where beneficial, be strengthened", especially "to cope with conflict against non-state actors such as the international terrorist… this means extending, not reducing, such conventions".[50]

Reid committed 3,300 troops to Helmand province, Afghanistan in January 2006.[51] Despite a lack of detailed intelligence, the Army anticipated the Helmand mission would be straightforward compared to its difficult mission in Basra it was withdrawing from, with short small patrols from fixed bases.[52] In speaking to the media Reid said "We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years and without firing one shot because our job is to protect the reconstruction."[53] In the first year about 4 million bullets and 25,000 artillery rounds had been fired by the British armed forces.[54]

Reid took an aggressive approach to defending his government's international policy. Speaking ahead of a conference on NATO modernisation in Germany on 4 February 2006, Reid asserted in a press interview that "no institution has the divine right to exist".[55] Similarly on 19 March 2006, in response to former interim Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi's claim that Iraq is in the grip of civil war, Reid defended the British Government's contrary view. He stated: "Every single politician I have met here [in Iraq] from the prime minister to the president, the defence minister and indeed Iyad Allawi himself said to me there's an increase in the sectarian killing, but there's not a civil war and we will not allow a civil war to develop".[56]

By the time of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict, Reid was no longer Defence Secretary, having been succeeded by Des Browne.

On 3 February 2010, Reid gave evidence about his role as Defence Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry. He said that America's experience of the Vietnam War had impacted negatively on US post-invasion planning in Iraq because US military chiefs "weren't thinking of detailed nation-building". Reid also said he had "deep sadness at the loss of life" in Iraq.[57]

Home Secretary[edit]

Reid was appointed Home Secretary on 5 May 2006, replacing Charles Clarke after the latter was removed in the wake of a Home Office scandal involving the release of foreign national prisoners.[26]

On 2 July 2006, Reid proposed a Bill for the autumn Queen's Speech, to be brought into law at the next session of Parliament. He proposed a new Official Secrets Act, the first since the 1989 OSA, to punish with longer prison sentences intelligence officers who blow the whistle on government policy by leaking secret information. To remove their key legal defence of necessity and/or defence of public interest.[58]

By the time he arrived at the Home Office, Reid was seen as one of the government's most effective performers over the previous decade, being described by many commentators as a bruiser, but with a strong academic leaning.[6]

At the Home Office Reid hit the ground running.[6] He contended that rapid global change and the associated challenges of mass migration, terrorism and organised crime had overwhelmed the outdated Home Office approach.[59] Reid caused considerable controversy by attacking the leadership and management systems previously in place in the Home Office. He infamously declared it to be "not fit for purpose", adding the phrase to the British political lexicon,[60] and vowed to "make the public feel safe".[61]

Reid's comments were rebuffed by Clarke,[62] who criticised his comments in a defence of his own period in office.[63]

Within 100 days of joining the Department, he had published three reform plans for a radical transformation. They included 8,000 more prison places; a 40 per cent reduction in headquarters staff by 2010; a commitment to making the Immigration and Nationality Directorate an agency with a uniformed border staff and tough new powers. radical overhaul of the core systems and structures within the Home Office itself, reform of IND, re-balancing of the criminal justice system, reform of the probation service and the review of counter-terrorist capabilities.[59]

He condemned the probation service for letting people down, and argued for fundamental reform.[64] An early decision during his time at the Home Office was to move child molesters living in hostels near schools further away from them.[65] Reid also caused controversy in August 2006 by calling for the creation of an independent committee to impose a national annual limit on the number of immigrants entering the UK.[66] The Guardian claimed that Reid was "playing to the racist gallery" and compared his plans to Soviet-style central planning of the economy.[67]

Because of the prisons' overcrowding crisis in Birmingham, on 9 October 2006 he announced emergency measures amid fears that the prison population was nearing maximum capacity.[68] Reid has announced his support of measures to restrict the ability of extremist messages to be disseminated on the Internet so as to make the web a more hostile place for terrorists.[69]

In 2006 Reid and the Home Office lost their appeal against the High Court ruling in the Afghan hijackers case 2006.[70] In this controversial case, a group of nine Afghan men who hijacked a Boeing 727 in February 2000, while fleeing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, were granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom.[71] The original ruling in 2004 ruled that returning the men to Afghanistan would breach their human rights under the Human Rights Act 1998. The Home Office granted the men "temporary leave to remain", which involved restricting their freedom of movement and did not allow them to work;[72] in 2006, the High Court ruled that the men must be granted "discretionary leave to remain", which includes the right to work.[16] Reid challenged the ruling in the Court of Appeal, arguing that the Home Office "should have the power to grant only temporary admission to failed asylum seekers who are only allowed to stay in the UK due to their human rights".[72]

Reid accused government's critics of putting national security at risk by their failure to recognise the serious nature of the threat facing Britain.[73] and called for reform of the human rights laws.[74]

From 1 August 2006, Reid introduced a new warning system to alert the public to the threat of attacks by al-Qaeda and other terror groups in order to increase public understanding and awareness of the terrorist threat. Announcing the plans, Reid told MPs that the terrorist threat would only be overcome by "united action by all of us" and urged the public to remain vigilant at all times.[75] The threat level, already at "Severe", the second highest level,[76] then moved even higher.

On 10 August, Reid announced that the UK had been put on its highest state of security alert, after police said they'd thwarted a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft flying between the UK and the US using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage.[77] Extreme security measures had been put in place at all the country's airports.[78][79]

Reid revealed that the alleged terror plot could have caused civilian casualties on an "unprecedented scale" and security sources said an attack was believed to have been imminent.[80] With 21 people in custody, Reid said he believed the 'main players' had been 'accounted for' but emphasised that that still left possible "unknown" players.[81] Reid also revealed that at least four major plots had been thwarted in the previous year[82] and security sources confirmed that two dozen major terrorist conspiracies were under investigation. Reid issued a dire warning against losing the "battle of ideas" with al-Qa'eda, and called for an urgent but controversial escalation in the propaganda war, saying that the government needed to do much more to win the battle of ideas.[83]

Reid then led European Ministers in efforts to make the Internet a "more hostile" place for terrorists and crack down on people using the web to share information on explosives or spread propaganda.[84]

In September 2006, Reid addressed Muslims in a run-down part of east London, warning them that fanatics were looking to groom and brainwash children for suicide bombings. During the speech he was confronted and barracked by Abu Izzadeen, also known as Omar or Trevor Brooks. Mr Brooks is a leader of the UK-banned Al Ghurabaa, an offshoot of the terrorist-supporting Al-Muhajiroun – a man who many accuse of glorifying terrorism and inciting racial hatred during nightly conversations (often using the nom de plume Abu Baraa) on a New York-based chatroom service.[85]

After the high-profile at the Home Office, his tough stance on terrorism and his domination of the headlines in the aftermath of the alleged terror plot, Reid was increasingly tipped by Labour MPs to run for the party's leadership.[86]

In fact, Reid kept everyone guessing about his leadership intentions until the very end. Ultimately the surprise was that, having decided not to stand, he announced his intention to quit frontline politics and return to the backbenches. It was speculated that, as a true Blairite believer, he either wanted to carry the torch of reform himself as Labour leader or else quit the scene altogether to make way for new blood.[26]

Resignation from government[edit]

In May 2007, Reid announced his intention to resign from the Cabinet when Tony Blair left office, and stated his plans to return to the Labour backbenches. He stated he would support Gordon Brown in the leadership election and his administration.[87] Reid left office as Home Secretary on 27 June 2007 and was replaced by Jacqui Smith the next day.[88]

In September 2007 he announced that he would not seek re-election at the next general election.[89]

Reid was linked with a return to cabinet in June 2009 under Gordon Brown but reportedly turned down the offer.[90]


In December 2004 and October 2005, Reid voted in favour of a bill to introduce a compulsory British national identity card.[91][92] He voted for the NHS foundation trust proposal.[93] He also voted in favour of allowing unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples to adopt,[94] and for lowering the age of consent for gay sex to 16.[95] Reid voted for the replacement of the Trident system.[96] He voted against all the House of Lords reform options except a fully appointed House of Lords.[3]

On the introduction of Labour's anti-terrorism laws, he opposed an amendment that would have limited the fingerprinting and strip-searching of persons detained at a police station to those detained in connection with a terrorism investigation.[97] He voted against changing the text in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill from "The Secretary of State may make a control order against an individual" to "The Secretary of State may apply to the court for a control order...."[98]

In March 2003, he voted against a motion that the case had not yet been made for war against Iraq,[99] and voted for the declaration of war against Iraq.[100] In June 2007, he voted against a motion calling for an independent inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors into the Iraq War.[101]

After cabinet[edit]

On 10 May 2010, Reid argued on BBC television that David Cameron should become the next Prime Minister in the interests of honouring the democratic wishes of the British people, with the Conservative Party having received more votes than any other party.[102] Had Labour and the Liberal Democrats formed an alliance, their combined votes would outnumber Conservative votes at the 2010 general election,[103] but Reid noted that a Labour/Liberal Democrat alliance would not have the numbers to form a parliamentary majority by themselves.[104][105]

The same month, it was announced that Reid had been made a life peer in the dissolution honours following the 2010 election.[106][107] He was created Baron Reid of Cardowan, of Stepps in Lanarkshire on 16 July 2010.[108]

In April 2011, to the discomfort of Labour colleagues,[109] he campaigned with the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and others against changes to the UK's voting system.[110] During the campaign, he made the claim that the alternative vote would violate the principle of one person one vote. He wrote that "it gives the supporters of unpopular fringe candidates numerous votes, while mainstream voters only get one".[111] The referendum on the Alternative Vote was won decisively by Reid's "No" side.[112]

In April 2013, Reid said that Labour had made a mistake with immigration while in government, and now in opposition was not providing an alternative.[113]

In June 2014, Reid appeared in a full-page advert in the Scottish Catholic Observer, encouraging readers to vote against Scottish independence in the September referendum. The advert failed to state who had paid for it, which is a breach of Electoral Commission rules, and following complaints, Reid revealed that it had been paid for by an organisation led by Willie Haughey.[114] The referendum resulted in a "No" vote.


Following the political scandal over MP expenses in 2009, Sir Thomas Legg requested Reid repay £2,731.88 of his claimed expenses. Reid chose to repay a total of £7,336.51. He was later one of 23 MPs who asked for a refund of some of the money they had repaid, and received £4,604.63 back.[115]

Outside politics[edit]


On 28 September 2007, it was announced Reid would become Chairman of Celtic Football Club[116] taking over from Brian Quinn. His appointment was ratified by Celtic's shareholders on 19 November 2007.[117] Sports journalist Graham Spiers found him "an engaging and intriguing Celtic chairman".[118]

Reid is a lifelong supporter of the club, and described the appointment as "an honour and a privilege".[119]

University of London[edit]

In late 2008 it was announced that Reid would be taking up the post of honorary Professor at the University College London and become the chairman of the newly created Institute of Security and Resilience Studies (ISRS) at UCL.[120][121]


On 18 December 2008, G4S (Group 4 Securicor) announced that Reid would be taking up a post with the company as group consultant.[122]

Top Level Group[edit]

Reid is currently a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, established in October 2009.[123]


In June 2009, Reid was awarded an honorary degree from Stirling University "for his contribution to public affairs".[124][125][126][127]


  1. ^ a b Bower, Tom (23 September 2006). "The dark horse". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 June 2014. ...Reid stood in the elections. Success depended upon support not only from Labour students but also from the communists. Approaching Jim White, the secretary of the Young Communist League, Reid professed to be a convert seeking membership. "He told us he was a Leninist and Stalinist," White recalls. "Although I was suspicious about his transition, we couldn't tell if he was acting. We let him join." With White's support and Reid's good organisation, he won the vote.
  2. ^ "How Alex Neil's career has readied him for his biggest challenge yet". Norwich City Football Club. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n John Reid: The Blairite bruiser[dead link] The Independent, 27 January 2001.
  4. ^ a b "John Reid, the Blairite bruiser all set to do battle". Irish Independent, 27 January 2001.
  5. ^ "John Reid, the Blairite bruiser all set to do battle". The Independent. 27 January 2001. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g " – Profile: John Reid". Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d e f The Operator The Guardian, 2 March 2002.
  8. ^ "Secretary of State for Defence". National Archives. Ministry of Defence. 26 May 2005. Archived from the original on 30 January 2006.
  9. ^ a b Bower, Tom (23 September 2006). "The dark horse". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  10. ^ British Bulldog[permanent dead link] The Sunday Business Post, 20 August 2006.
  11. ^ Wedding bells beckon for NI secretary, BBC News, 5 February 2002.
  12. ^ The hard-drinking, hard-smoking health secretary Archived 8 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Men's Health Forum, 1 February 2005.
  13. ^ Wintour, Patrick; Blackstock, Colin (9 June 2004). "Let poor smoke, says health secretary". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "John Reid, the Blairite bruiser all set to do battle". 27 January 2001.
  15. ^ "Profile of John Reid". The Guardian. 20 March 2001. Retrieved 22 June 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Profile: John Reid". The Daily Telegraph. 13 June 2004.
  17. ^ "The chronology of events in the case of murdered teenager Peter McBride". Pat Finucane Centre. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Reid sympathy over murdered teenager". BBC News. 28 May 2002. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  19. ^ a b The Guardian Profile: John Reid The Guardian, 12 June 2003.
  20. ^ a b Its New Transport Line Is Late and Over Budget : Will the New Century Get to London on Time? New York Times, 11 February 1999.
  21. ^ a b John Reid, BBC News, 17 October 2002.
  22. ^ Dr John Reid: Profile BBC Scotland, 24 January 2001.
  23. ^ History made as Scottish parliament opens The Guardian, 12 May 1999.
  24. ^ a b After Donald ... The Guardian, 12 October 2000.
  25. ^ Labours chiefs in "comments" row, BBC News, 8 June 2001.
  26. ^ a b c Profile: John Reid, BBC News, 6 May 2007.
  27. ^ Reid bid to halt Belfast rioting, BBC News, 5 June 2002.
  28. ^ Paramilitaries 'to blame' for violence, BBC News, 4 September 2002.
  29. ^ Riots engulf Belfast as peace line strains ceasefire to the limit The Guardian, 5 June 2002.
  30. ^ Reid puts pressure on IRA to decommission RTÉ News, 23 September 2001.
  31. ^ Reid welcomes significant step The Guardian, 23 October 2001.
  32. ^ Reid announces NI security cuts, BBC News, 24 October 2001.
  33. ^ IRA scraps all its arms CNN International, 26 September 2005.
  34. ^ RUC title 'may go' by November, BBC News, 21 September 2001.
  35. ^ Assembly suspended over 'loss of trust', BBC News, 14 October 2002.
  36. ^ Blair tells Adams the IRA must disband Times Online, 11 October 2002.
  37. ^ "Northern Ireland chronology: 2002". BBC News. 9 April 2003. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  38. ^ Blair's Valentine date to patch up with the unions The Times, 4 January 2003.
  39. ^ Hoge, Warren (5 April 2003). "World Briefing Europe: Britain: New Commons Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  40. ^ Private Eye, 12 June 2003.
  41. ^ NHS calls in Kwik-Fit-style eye surgeons, The Times, 13 January 2004.
  42. ^ John Reid outlines proposals to improve public health Archived 12 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine UK Government DirectGov statement.
  43. ^ John Reid announces consultation on public health North East Public Health Observatory.
  44. ^ John Reid Outlines the 'People's Potential' for strengthening the NHS Archived 28 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine Centre for Voluntary Services.
  45. ^ Catcalls, barracking and laughter force Hewitt to abandon speech The Guardian, 27 April 2006.
  46. ^ Jagger, Suzy (12 April 2010). "Tories promise to change GP contracts as key part of manifesto". The Times. London.
  47. ^ Cabinet agrees England smoking ban, BBC News, 25 October 2005.
  48. ^ Campaigners welcome smoking ban, BBC News, 15 February 2006.
  49. ^ Cowell, Alan (7 May 2005). "Blair's new battle: Labour leadership". The Edmonton Sun.
  50. ^ Reid, John (5 April 2006). "I do not reject the Geneva conventions". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  51. ^ Haynes, Deborah; Loyd, Anthony; Kiley, Sam; Coghlan, Tom (9 June 2010). "Officers mess military chiefs blamed for blundering into Helmand with eyes shut and fingers crossed". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 11 June 2010.
  52. ^ Bower, Tom (2016). Broken Vows : Tony Blair : the Tragedy of Power. Faber & Faber. pp. 464–472. ISBN 9780571314201.
  53. ^ "UK troops 'to target terrorists'". BBC News. 24 April 2006.
  54. ^ Harding, Thomas (12 January 2008). "A year in Helmand: 4m bullets fired by British". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  55. ^ Future of NATO at risk, says Reid, BBC News, 4 February 2006.
  56. ^ Poole, Oliver (20 March 2006). "Iraq is now in 'a terrible civil war', admits Allawi". Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 26 June 2006. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  57. ^ "Vietnam war affected US planning for Iraq – John Reid". BBC News. 3 February 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  58. ^ Leppard, David. "New laws to punish whistle blowers", The Sunday Times, 2 July 2006.
  59. ^ a b I can fix the problems, but I need three years Daily Telegraph, 21 January 2007.
  60. ^ Note: the term was already in general use from Section 14 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, which requires that "goods sold in the course of a business" must be "fit for the purpose".
  61. ^ Reid vowing to make Britain safer, BBC News, 24 May 2006.
  62. ^ Key quotes: Clarke's anger, BBC News, 27 June 2006.
  63. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Charles Clarke Says John Reid is Not Fit For Purpose, Iain Dale's Diary, 26 June 2006.
  64. ^ John Reid orders probation review Home Office, 7 November 2006.
  65. ^ Abusers moved from near schools, BBC News, 18 June 2006.
  66. ^ Reid calls for migration debate, BBC News, 6 August 2006.
  67. ^ Get a grip, Mr. Reid Guardian Unlimited, 7 August 2006.
  68. ^ Police cells to ease prison crisis Birmingham Mail, 9 October 2006.
  69. ^ John Reid & EU partners to crack down on the web used as propaganda, BBC News, 26 October 2006.
  70. ^ Reid loses Afghan hijack ruling, BBC News, 4 August 2006.
  71. ^ Timeline of Afghan hijacker case, BBC News.
  72. ^ a b Reid fights Afghan hijack ruling, BBC News, 31 July 2006.
  73. ^ Anti-terror critics just don't get it, says Reid The Guardian, 10 August 2006.
  74. ^ John Reid calls for human rights law reform The Telegraph, 17 September 2007.
  75. ^ Terror warnings to be made public, BBC News, 10 July 2006.
  76. ^ MI5 web page says attack threat is severe The Times, 2 August 2006.
  77. ^ UK police foil terrorist plot ABC – PM, 10 August 2006.
  78. ^ 'Mass Murder Terror Plot' Uncovered The Guardian, 10 August 2006.
  79. ^ Political Hot Topics CNN Situation Room, 10 August 2006.
  80. ^ Police foil terror plot Channel 4 News, 10 August 2006.
  81. ^ Judging the terror threat, BBC News, 6 August.
  82. ^ UK says more terror plots thwarted, Taipei Times, 14 August 2006.
  83. ^ Al-Qa'eda is winning the war of ideas, says Reid The Telegraph, 24 October 2006.
  84. ^ Anti-terror plan targets internet, BBC News, 26 October 2006.
  85. ^ Islamic Caliphate in Britain? Archived 2 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine Global Politician, 25 September 2006.
  86. ^ Why Tories should fear John Reid Social Affairs Unit archives, 28 September 2006.
  87. ^ Reid to resign as home secretary, BBC News, 6 May 2007.
  88. ^ Brown appoints first female home secretary.
  89. ^ Reid to step down at next poll, BBC News, 15 September 2007.
  90. ^ Allies of Brown go on offensive, BBC News, 4 June 2009.
  91. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 20 Dec 2004 (pt 42)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  92. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Oct 2005 (pt 35)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  93. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 8 Jul 2003 (pt 27)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  94. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 4 Nov 2002 (pt 28)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  95. ^ "Details of key John Reid votes". The Guardian. London. 3 August 2010.
  96. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 14 Mar 2007 (pt 0022)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  97. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 26 Nov 2001 (pt 30)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  98. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 Feb 2005 (pt 40)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  99. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Mar 2003 (pt 47)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  100. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Mar 2003 (pt 48)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  101. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 11 Jun 2007 (pt 0015)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 September 2007.
  102. ^ Lib-Lab coalition 'bad for the country', BBC News, 10 May 2010.
  103. ^ Brown resignation: Reaction in quotes, BBC News, 11 May 2010.
  104. ^ Hung parliament: The Lib Dem and Labour dilemmas, BBC News, 11 May 2010.
  105. ^ Hung parliament: Labour 'close to conceding defeat', BBC News, 11 May 2010.
  106. ^ Dissolution Honours: John Prescott made a peer, BBC News, 28 May 2010.
  107. ^ Dissolution Honours: Dissolution list, BBC News, 28 May 2010.
  108. ^ "No. 59494". The London Gazette. 21 July 2010. p. 13909.
  109. ^ Grice, Andrew (19 April 2011). "Labour 'spitting blood' over Reid's backing for Cameron on voting reform". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 13 June 2022.
  110. ^ Richardson, Miranda (26 November 2010). "Labour Ex-Ministers To Fight Voting Reform". Sky News. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  111. ^ Reid, Lord (26 November 2010). "Why Britain should vote No in next year's AV referendum, Lord Reid, The Telegraph, 26 November 2011". Telegraph. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  112. ^ "Vote 2011: UK rejects alternative vote". BBC News. 7 May 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  113. ^ Ross, Tim (14 April 2013). "John Reid says Labour must be more than 'voice of protest'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013 – via Wayback Machine. Lord Reid suggested that the last Labour government had allowed immigration to grow too quickly in order to provide a cheap source of workers. He said he agreed with Mr Miliband that "we did not tackle immigration, when we should have done".
  114. ^ "Third time lucky ... Labour peer finally gets it right about who paid for Reid ad". Herald Scotland. 22 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  115. ^ "Wishaw - Latest news updates, pictures, video, reaction - Daily Record". 15 June 2023.
  116. ^ Reid named as new Celtic chairman, BBC News, 28 September 2007.
  117. ^ Nathanson, Patrick (19 November 2007). "Celtic appoint John Reid as chairman". Telegraph. London.
  118. ^ John Reid's anti-slogan pitch is tough The Times, 18 December 2007.
  119. ^ Board changes at Celtic PLC Archived 31 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine Celtic FC, 28 September 2007.
  120. ^ Security and resilience solutions for the 21st century: a new UCL institute University College London, 17 November 2008.
  121. ^ Mass migration threatens Britain's national security, says John Reid Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2008.
  122. ^ G4S Appoints Reid Archived 14 September 2012 at Security Oracle, 18 December 2008.
  123. ^ Borger, Julian (8 September 2009). "Nuclear-free world ultimate aim of new cross-party pressure group". The Guardian. London.
  124. ^ Reid celebrates honorary degree, BBC News, 24 June 2009.
  125. ^ Anger over honour for Reid the 'war criminal' The Times, 3 May 2009.
  126. ^ Honorary degree for Reid sparks outrage The Scotsman, 4 May 2009.
  127. ^ Students' anger at honour for former minister Herald Scotland, 4 May 2009.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Motherwell North

Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Hamilton North and Bellshill

Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Airdrie and Shotts

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Transport
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for Scotland
Preceded by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister without Portfolio
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for Health
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Preceded by Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Labour Party Chair
Succeeded by
Sporting positions
Preceded by Chairman of the Celtic Football Club
Succeeded by
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Reid of Cardowan
Followed by