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Sir George Reid PC FRSE (born 4 June 1939) is a Scottish politician. From February 1974 to May 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.

Sir George Reid

George reid msp.jpg
2nd Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament
In office
7 May 2003 – 14 May 2007
Preceded byDavid Steel
Succeeded byAlex Fergusson
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Ochil
In office
3 May 2003 – 7 May 2007
Preceded byRichard Simpson
Succeeded byKeith 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 80)
Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, Scotland
Political partyScottish National Party

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 2009, he was appointed as Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire.


Early life and workEdit

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 degree 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 ParliamentEdit

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 CrossEdit

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][7] He was part of an international disaster team that responded to the 1988 Armenian earthquake.[8][9] He was Director of Public Affairs of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent for 12 years, based in Geneva, Switzerland, but working worldwide in conflict and disaster zones.[10]

Scottish ParliamentEdit

In 1995 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".[11]

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.[12] When the new Labour administration moved forward with proposals for a Scottish Parliament, Reid first served on the pre-establishment Consultative Steering Group,[13] 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.[14]

At the 2003 Scottish Parliament Election Reid succeeded in winning the Ochil constituency first past the post.[15] He was then elected by his fellow MSPs to succeed David Steel as Presiding Officer.[16][17] As the Presiding Officer is expected to be strictly nonpartisan, he voluntarily suspended his SNP membership for the duration of his tenure.

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.[18] 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.[19]

As Presiding Officer he also led the creation of a Scottish Futures Forum, to promote cross-party strategic thinking.[20][21] He was appointed President of the Royal Commonwealth Society Scotland,[22] and became Patron of the Scottish Disability Equality Forum.[23]

After Presiding OfficerEdit

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.[24] Reid also joined the European Union's Caucasus-Caspian diplomatic commission.[25] On 19 April 2007 he was made a Freeman of the County of Clackmannanshire.[26] He had his portrait taken by photographer Harry Benson the same year.[27]

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.[28] This position is second only to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in the ceremonial Order of Precedence.[29] He served as Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire from 2011 to 2014.

In 2006 he was appointed by the University of Glasgow as an Honorary Professor in the School of Law.[1] Between 2008 and 2011 he was an independent adviser on the Scottish Ministerial Code.[30]

In September 2009, Reid was appointed by the National Trust for Scotland to lead a wide-ranging internal governance review.[31] Reid produced a report, making a range of recommendations that were accepted by the Trust.[32]

He was an Electoral Commissioner from 2010 to 2014.[33][34]

In 2013 he underwent major surgery for bladder cancer.[30] He resigned all his positions, then made a good recovery.[35]

Awards and honoursEdit

After relief efforts for the 1988 Armenian earthquake Reid was recognised with the Gold Medal of the Supreme Soviet of Armenia and the Pirogov Gold Medal of the USSR.[5]

During his time as Presiding Officer he won the Herald newspaper's Scottish Politician of the Year award in 2003 and 2005, becoming the first person to have won the award on two occasions,[36][37] followed by a lifetime achievement award in 2013.[30] Reid was made a Free man of Clackmannanshire in 2007.[38]

He received also several honorary doctorates, i.e. an LLD degree from the University of St Andrews in 2005,[39][40] a DUniv degree from Queen Margaret University in 2006,[41] the degree of Dr.h.c. from the University of Edinburgh in 2007,[42] and a DUniv degree from the University of Stirling in 2008.[43]

Reid was knighted in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to Scottish politics and public life.[44][45] In 2015, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE).[46]

Personal lifeEdit

Reid is married with two children.


  1. ^ a b c "Distinguished parliamentarian George Reid appointed honorary professor". (Press release). University of Glasgow. 19 November 2006. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  2. ^ "UK General Election results: February 1974". Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Not updated: UK General Election results: October 1974". Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Not updated: UK General Election results: May 1979". Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Scottish Parliament – News – MSPs welcome international dignitaries to Holyrood". 29 January 2007. Archived from the original on 10 December 2007. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  6. ^ Lamb, Rachel (June 2005). "Man behind Sir Bob" (PDF). Africa Woman. pp. 18–19. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  7. ^ Wilson, Iain (7 January 1984). "Reid quits TV for job with Red Cross". The Glasgow Herald. p. 1. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  8. ^ "7 Killed When 2nd Quake Relief Plane Crashes at Armenia Airport". LA Times. 12 December 1988. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Aid expo confirms outpour of emergency relief". Manila Standard. 7 November 1995. p. 24. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  10. ^ Deveney, Catherine (29 August 2004). "Interview: George Reid: National hero". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Scots Independence Tour – Oh to be in Britain ?". Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  12. ^ Ochil Archived 26 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "WHISP 55/1". 26 October 2000. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  14. ^ Scottish Parliament (12 May 1999). "Scottish Parliament – Official Report". Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  15. ^ "Ochil". Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  16. ^ "Reid wins presiding officer role". BBC News. 7 May 2003.
  17. ^ "Scottish Parliament – Official Report". Archived from the original on 10 November 2005. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  18. ^ "Reid made Privy Counsellor". BBC News. 6 August 2004.
  19. ^ "The Scottish Parliament: – About Holyrood – Project History – Building Opens – Presiding Officer's Speech". Archived from the original on 26 August 2011. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  20. ^ "Why we still cling to our working class past George Reid on Scots paradox". The Herald. Glasgow. 26 August 2005. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  21. ^ Eberhard Bort. "Scottish Affairs, Bort; Annals of the Parish (online article)". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  22. ^ "The Scottish Parliament: Presiding Officer Made President Of Royal Commonwealth Society Scotland". 18 March 2005. Archived from the original on 30 June 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  23. ^ "Personnel". SDEF. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  24. ^ "Northern Ireland | Assembly 'should have own staff'". BBC News. 2 November 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  25. ^ – The Business of Politics – George Reid receives Russian award Archived 22 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Scotland | Tayside and Central | George Reid poised for top honour". BBC News. 16 April 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  27. ^ "Benson captures politics 'crisis'". BBC News. 24 August 2007.
  28. ^ "Queen's new church role for Reid". BBC News. 16 January 2008.
  29. ^ "Burke's Peerage & Gentry – Article Library". Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  30. ^ a b c Dinwoodie, Robbie (15 November 2013). "Reid hints at return to world of writing as lifetime achievement honoured". The Herald. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  31. ^ Cunningham, Jennifer (25 September 2009). "Reid to review troubled Trust in late bid to calm its critics". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  32. ^ "A portrait of a charity in crisis: National Trust for Scotland". Third Sector. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  33. ^ "New Electoral Commissioners approved" (Press release). Electoral Commission. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  34. ^ "Two new Electoral Commissioners approved" (Press release). Electoral Commission. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  35. ^ "Former Scottish Parliament Presiding Officers on the devolution years". Holyrood. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  36. ^ "Reid named top politician". BBC News. 28 November 2003.
  37. ^ The Herald: Politician 2007: Recipients Archived 5 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "George Reid poised for top honour". BBC News. 16 April 2007.
  39. ^ "Honorary degrees 21st – 25th June" (Press release). University of St Andrews. 20 June 2005. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  40. ^ "The Scottish Parliament: – News: PO receives honorary degree from St Andrews" (Press release). Scottish Parliament. 23 June 2005. Archived from the original on 16 November 2005. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
  41. ^ Crombie Anderson (10 July 2006). "George Reid MSP awarded honorary degree". (Press release). GB: Queen Margaret University. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  42. ^ "Honorary graduates 2007/08". University of Edinburgh. 25 May 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  43. ^ "Honorary Graduates - Profiles: George Reid". External Relation of the University of Stirling. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  44. ^ "No. 60173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2012. p. 1.
  45. ^ "Queen's birthday honours list 2012: Knights". The Guardian. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  46. ^ "Politics Professorial Fellow elected to the Royal Society". University of Stirling. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2016.

External linksEdit