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Location: Glasgow Guide / Glasgow Information / Famous Glaswegians / Donald Dewar   

Famous Glaswegians (and those who became famous in Glasgow)<<

Dewar, Donald[Born: August 21, 1937, Glasgow - Died: October 11, 2000, Edinburgh]

Politician and the first Premier of the modern Scottish Parliament. Born in Glasgow, Donald Dewar was educated at the Glasgow Academy and then the University of Glasgow. He practised as a solicitor in the city before being elected as a Member of Parliament, initially for Aberdeen South (1966-70), then Glasgow Garscadden (since 1978). An active member of both the Scottish and National Labour Party, Dewar was elected to the Shadow Cabinet in 1984, rising to hold the post of Shadow Social Security Spokesman.

Following the 1997 Labour victory, he was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland by Prime Minister Tony Blair (b.1953). Determined to conclude John Smith's 'unfinished business' Dewar guided the devolution process through to the Scotland Act and the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament, adjourned almost 300 years before.

At the Scottish Parliament election on 6 May 1999, Donald Dewar was elected as the MSP for the constituency of Glasgow Anniesland with 16,749 votes, a majority of 10,993. A week later, at its meeting on 13 May 1999, the Scottish Parliament elected him First Minister of Scotland, with 71 votes. The following day, he signed a "Partnership for Scotland", establishing a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and his nominations as Ministers and Junior Ministers were agreed by the Parliament on 19 May 1999.

In 2000, Dewar underwent major heart surgery in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, but recovered and quickly returned to his post. However, only months later, while leaving a cabinet meeting, he suffered a brain haemorrhage, a consequence of the drugs he was taking after his surgery. Tragically, Dewar died the following day in Edinburgh's Western General Hospital. His funeral service was held in Glasgow Cathedral.

Although often criticised for his unkempt appearance, he is remembered as an honest, caring and intelligent politician, who worked hard for his constituents and the people of Scotland. He is remembered by the 'Donald Dewar Room' in Queensberry House, part of the Scottish Parliament complex at Holyrood, which includes a substantial collection of his books.


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