05/05/05: The Election : SCOTLAND AT THE BALLOT - I Was a Great Admirer of John Smith, and Gordon Is the Kind of Politician Who Gives Politics a Good Name ...He Cares about the Right Issues; BROWN'S BLUE EYED BOY DOUGLAS IS LABOUR'S BRIGHT YOUNG THING

The Mirror (London, England), April 27, 2005 | Go to article overview

05/05/05: The Election : SCOTLAND AT THE BALLOT - I Was a Great Admirer of John Smith, and Gordon Is the Kind of Politician Who Gives Politics a Good Name ...He Cares about the Right Issues; BROWN'S BLUE EYED BOY DOUGLAS IS LABOUR'S BRIGHT YOUNG THING


Byline: By SIOBHAN McFADYEN The First Lady of Scottish politics

IN JUST eight days time the UK will wake up to a new Government for a new age.

And if Labour succeeds in winning a historic third term, it could well lead to what many Scots would like to see - the emergence of a Scottish Prime Minister.

After the sad and untimely death of Labour leader John Smith in 1994, it will be the first real opportunity for a Scot - Gordon Brown - to prove his credentials as the natural and logical successor to Tony Blair.

And if the Iron Chancellor succeeds, there will be another Scot whose support in the background will have been immeasurable.

Douglas Alexander, MP for Paisley, is rooted in the values of old Labour that have driven Brown to such heights in the party and the country.

And at the age of just 37, he has experienced a political life that could rival even the most revered and senior of MPs.

Committed to politics since his mother took him campaigning in his pushchair - he is desperate to see Labour romp home on May 5.

But the Chancellor's former tea boy is not complacent about Labour's chances.

Brown's blue-eyed boy has been at the core of one of the most controversial Governments in recent history. Ousted by Alan Millburn in the original election campaign, this prodigal son has been drafted back in to bring the result home.

Douglas Alexander is old Labour's brightest young thing.

Married to Jacquie - who used to work for Brown's wife Sarah's PR firm - this father-of-two is the fresh face of marketing for a Labour Party determined to push its principals back to the fore.

At 14 he joined the Erskine Young Socialists. Amongst a group of politically active teachers, he was the only student.

At 17 he won a Scottish Scholarship to an international college in Vancouver, Canada.

Two years later he came home to study Politics and Modern History at Edinburgh University.

He chaired the University Labour Club, the largest in the country, and he also worked for the local constituency Labour Party.

"It gave me a real handle on what was going on in politics at that time," Douglas explained.

"The University Labour club was really interesting and I worked there with people like Pat McFadden - who is one of Tony's staff in Downing Street - and Sarah Boyak, Susan Deacon and David Clarke, who went on to work with Robin Cook."

It was to be a fantastic grounding for the life that was to lie ahead.

But it was in 1988, when he won another scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, that his career really took off.

After working as a press steward for the Dukakis Presidential Campaign against George Bush, he was introduced to Gordon Brown.

Douglas said: "He needed someone to work in his office. I was asked to meet Gordon at an event in 1990 and the so-called interview lasted about 90 seconds when he said 'I hear you are interested in working for me. You come highly recommended'.

"I went to meet him at his Edinburgh flat. He had piles of books and lots of old computers with coffee cups lying all over the place.

"I remember he was sitting watching a Scotland match and he asked me if I had got all my books for my finals?

"I left his flat that day with this box full of his political history books as he had a vast, vast collection of them in his library, and I started working in London two weeks after my graduation.

"In 1990 I worked for Gordon for a year, I had the opportunity to do law at Glasgow and Cambridge but I deferred it.

"I did the full year and my final week was during the Labour party conference. On the final day, John Major announced that he wasn't going to hold the election. Neil Kinnock then asked Gordon to do a speech.

"Gordon said to me that I should jot down some lines and then we both went up to see Neil in his top floor suite at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. …

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