Iain Gray
IainGray2009 (cropped).jpg
Gray in 2008
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
13 June 2015 – 15 August 2015
UK party leaderHarriet Harman (acting)
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byKezia Dugdale
In office
13 September 2008 – 17 December 2011
DeputyJohann Lamont
UK party leader
Preceded byWendy Alexander
Succeeded byJohann Lamont
Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning
In office
3 May 2002 – 21 May 2003
First MinisterJack McConnell
Preceded byWendy Alexander
Succeeded byJim Wallace
Minister for Social Justice
In office
22 November 2001 – 3 May 2002
First MinisterJack McConnell
Preceded byJackie Baillie
Succeeded byMargaret Curran
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for East Lothian
In office
3 May 2007 – 6 May 2021
Preceded byJohn Home Robertson
Succeeded byPaul McLennan
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Edinburgh Pentlands
In office
6 May 1999 – 1 May 2003
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byDavid McLetchie
Scottish Labour frontbench roles
2014–2021Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills[a]
2007–2008Shadow Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism
Personal details
Born (1957-06-07) 7 June 1957 (age 65)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political partyScottish Labour
SpouseGillianne McCormack[1]
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh

Iain Cumming Gray (born 7 June 1957) is a Scottish politician who served as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party from 2008 to 2011. He was the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the East Lothian constituency from 2007 to 2021, having previously represented Edinburgh Pentlands from 1999 to 2003. A former aid worker and teacher of mathematics and physics, Gray was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as MSP for the Edinburgh Pentlands constituency, which he lost to Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party David McLetchie in 2003. Gray was returned to Holyrood in 2007 as 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 overall resulting in the first UK hung parliament in 36 years, and the Labour Party being defeated after thirteen years in government. The 2011 Scottish Parliament election 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 on 17 December 2011.

Due to his experience, Gray was appointed as Acting Leader of the Scottish Labour Party while a leadership and a deputy leadership election were being simultaneously held, on account of deputy leader Kezia Dugdale resigning to run for the leadership and the resignation of previous leader Jim Murphy after Scottish Labour's landslide defeat at the 2015 general election.

Early life and career

Gray was educated at the state comprehensive Inverness Royal Academy and briefly privately at George Watson's College, Edinburgh.[2] He studied physics at the University of Edinburgh before training as a teacher at Moray House College of Education.[2][3] After graduation, he worked as a mathematics and physics teacher at Gracemount High School in Edinburgh before a teaching stint in Mozambique.[4] He then spent twelve years as the campaigns director for the Scottish arm of the aid charity Oxfam.

Early political career

Gray as a government minister
Gray as a government minister

Having previously stood as a candidate in Lothian Regional Council elections, Gray was first elected to the devolved Scottish Parliament at the 1999 Scottish Parliament election.[5] Immediately after his election to Holyrood, he was made a deputy minister in the first Scottish Executive under Donald Dewar.

Following Jack McConnell becoming First Minister in 2001, Gray was promoted to Minister for Social Justice. After the sudden resignation of Wendy Alexander (following disagreements with McConnell) in 2002,[6] 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 in London as a special adviser to Alistair Darling, who was Secretary of State for Scotland, and initially announced that he would not be seeking re-election.[7]

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.

Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Following the resignation of Wendy Alexander over a foreign donation scandal,[8] 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[11] 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".[12]

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.

Later political career

Official parliamentary portrait, 2011
Official parliamentary portrait, 2011

Gray was reappointed to the post of Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance in the Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet on 29 June 2013. After the 2014 leadership election, he was made Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

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 deputy leader Kezia Dugdale resigning to run for the leadership.[13] At the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, while several Labour MSPs lost their seats, Gray retained his seat with an increased majority compared to 2011.

Gray announced that he would be standing down at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election in June 2020, in order to spend more time with his family.[14]

Gray nominated Anas Sarwar in the 2021 Scottish Labour leadership election.[15]

Personal life

Gray has been married twice.[16] His first wife, Linda Malloch, divorced him and later married Gray's long-time friend Kevin Dunion.[17] 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.[18] He is a lifelong fan of Edinburgh football club Hibernian,[19] and enjoys reading, music and hill walking. He is a member of the Church of Scotland.[20]


  1. ^ Education and Lifelong Learning (2014–15); Opportunity (2015–16)


  1. ^ "GRAY, Iain Cumming". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. Vol. 2021 (online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b Wojtas, Olga (10 May 2002). "In the news: Iain Gray". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  3. ^ "About Iain | Iain Gray". Archived from the original on 10 April 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  4. ^ Mulholland, Helene (8 August 2008). "Scottish Labour leadership: who is running?". guardian.co.uk. London. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  5. ^ "Who's who in the Scottish Cabinet". BBC News. 28 November 2001.
  6. ^ "Profile: Wendy Alexander". The Daily Telegraph. London. 16 August 2007.
  7. ^ "East Lothian". Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  8. ^ "Wendy Alexander: Labour's short-lived Scottish leader". The Guardian. London. 28 June 2008.
  9. ^ "Gray becomes Scots Labour leader". bbc.co.uk. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Iain Gray urged to say sorry after 'ethnic cleansing' gaffe sparks diplomatic row - The Scotsman". 17 March 2016. Archived from the original on 17 March 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Scottish election: Iain Gray targeted by protesters". BBC News. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "East Lothian MSP Iain Gray stepping down from Scottish Parliament to spend more time with family". www.scotsman.com.
  15. ^ "Scottish Leadership Election 2021 - Nominations". Scottish Labour. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  16. ^ "WHISP". Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  17. ^ Bowditch, Gillian (4 October 2008). "The colourful side of Labours Gray man". The Times. London.
  18. ^ Brady, Brian; Allardyce, Jason; MacLeod, Murdo (28 April 2002). "Politicians keep it in the family while taxpayers pay the price". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Deveney, Catherine (27 March 2011). "Interview: Iain Gray, Scottish Labour leader". Scotland on Sunday. Edinburgh. Retrieved 27 March 2011.