John Reid (politician)
The Right Honourable
name = Dr John Reid
imagesize = 200px
term_start = 5 May 2006
term_end = 27 June 2007
Secretary of State for Defence
term_start2 = 6 May 2005
term_end2 = 5 May 2006
Secretary of State for Health
term_start3 = 13 June 2003
term_end3 = 6 May 2005
Lord President of the Council& Leader of the House of Commons
term_start4 = 4 April 2003
term_end4 = 13 June 2003
Gareth Williams (Lord President)
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
term_start5 = 25 January 2001
term_end5 = 24 October 2004
Secretary of State for Scotland
term_start6 = 17 May 1999
term_end6 = 25 January 2001
constituency_MP7 = Airdrie and Shotts
majority7 = 14,084 (42.5%)
term_start7 = 5 May 2005
party = Labour
birth_date = Birth date and age|1947|05|08|df=yes
Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland, UK
nationality = Scottish
party = Labour
University of Stirling
occupation = Academic (
Dr John Reid (born 8 May 1947) is a British
politicianwho was formerly the Home Secretary[http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6629877.stm BBC: Reid to resign as home secretary] ] and also filled several other cabinet positions, including Defence Secretary and Health Secretary. He is Member of Parliament(MP) for the Scottish constituency of Airdrie and Shotts,cite web | title="John Reid MP" | url=http://www.johnreidmp.com/ | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] although he will stand down from parliament at the next general election. He is currently also the chairman of Celtic Football Club.
Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Scotlandto Roman Catholicparents (and mixed denomination grandparents), Reid comes from a mining stock. His mother, Mary, was a factory worker and father, Thomas, was a postman with a passionate belief in education being the means of liberating the working classes [http://news.independent.co.uk/people/profiles/article265527.ece] The Independent profile ] .
Reid attributes his success to hard work and a good education. Like his successor as
Scottish Secretary, Helen Liddellhe attended St Patrick's Secondary School, Coatbridge. The headmasterof St Patrick's, James Breen, was described as being driven by the belief that working classchildren could make good in their lives provided there was discipline . Despite this the teenage Reid showed an early talent for organisation and political activism by leading a strikein protest at a school rule that forced children who arrived early to school to wait outside in all weathers, including the bitter cold and wet winters. "If we weren't allowed in before 9 o'clock, we weren't going in after 9 o'clock" Reid is quoted as saying . Eventually the Headmaster conceded and the strike ended.
Having left school at 16, Reid, decided not to go to University but instead took a series of jobs, including construction work on an oil pipeline and another in insurance. It is this latter job that Reid quotes as opening his eyes politically. He was assigned to the tenements of the East End of
Glasgowafter the city was hit by storms in late 1968 and saw poverty of a sort he didn't know existed; a sick infant sleeping in a wooden box, in a damp ridden room, a distracted old woman buying coal for a tenement flat that didn't have a coal fire. Soon after this he joined the Labour Party.
It was also around this time that Reid's lifelong passion for history was kindled when his girlfriend (and later wife), Cathie, bought him a copy of "
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William L. Shirer. Reid was spellbound . Following this he attended the Open Universityin his mid-twenties to study a Foundation Course and then later attended the University of Stirling, gaining a BA in history and a Ph.D.in economic history, with a thesis on the slave tradewritten as a critique of the Marxistmodel of historical change, entitled "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". cite web | title="ePolitix.com - Profile: John Reid" | url=http://www.epolitix.com/EN/News/200609/afcf6581-be9f-436c-ad52-a15e9e1f084e.htm | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,2763,659705,00.html The operator] ]
From 1979 to 1983 he was a research officer for the Labour Party in Scotland, and from 1983 to 1985 he was a political adviser to Labour leader
Neil Kinnock. From 1986 to 1987, he was Scottish Organiser of Trade Unionists for Labour. 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 vote.
Reid was married to the late Cathie McGowan from 1969 until her sudden death from a heart attack in 1998. In 2002 he married the
Jewish Brazilian film director Carine Adler[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1802195.stm Wedding bells beckon for NI secretary] BBC News | 5 February 2002 ] . According to the Guardian (23/09/2006) Reid arrived in 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". Reid stopped drinking in 1994, allegedly as a consequence of his sexual harassment of fellow government Minister Dawn Primarolo, [ [http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=454473&in_page_id=1770 The day leadership rival John Reid propositioned the young Brown ally Dawn Primarolo - and never drank again] SIMON WALTERS, www.mailonsunday.co.uk, 2007-05-13. Retrieved 2007-09-29.] and stopped smoking cigarettes in 2003 [ [http://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/userpage1.cfm?item_id=1478 The hard-drinking, hard-smoking health secretary] , Men's Health Forum, 1 February 2005] . According to George Galloway, Reid is an accomplished singer and guitar player and "taught a whole generation of Labour activists, including yours truly, the entire IRA songbook". The claim about his musicianship is supported by the fact that, in January 2001, he was named an honorary member of the Scottish group "The Big Elastic Band" and promised to play guitar on their next album [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2357217.stm Profile:Dr. John Reid] BBC News | 24 October 2002] . He was an early member of Labour Friends of Israel. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/05/01/nlab01.xml David Blunkett to return to the Cabinet in major reshuffle] The Daily Telegraph | 1 May 2005 ]
Reid grew up in a very working-class environment. He is intensly proud of his industrial, working class upbringing and one of his favorite quotes is "better a broken nose than a bended knee" [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/06/13/do1310.xml Daily Telegraph 13/06/2004] Telegraph Profile] .
At university Reid, for a time, became a member of the
Communist Party of Great Britainof which he has said: "I used to be a Communist. I used to believe in Santa Claus" [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_200101/ai_n9661596/pg_2 Profile: John Reid - The Blairite bruiser] Find Articles | 27 January 2001] . However, the secretary of the Young Communist League, Jim White, who went to university with Reid, recalls: "He told us he was a Leninist and Stalinist. Although I was suspicious about his transition, we couldn't tell if he was acting. We let him join." On securing the support of the Communists and Labour students, Reid was able to run for president of the student's union and win the election. His political career was launched. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1877542,00.html The Dark Horse] The Guardian | 23 September 2006]
He moved on from Leninism after leaving university with his doctorate, and became a researcher for Scottish Labour party. Reid believes that any socialist, or indeed any rational person, should be a revisionist on principle. [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/profiles/story/0,9396,-4372,00.html Profile of John Reid] The Guardian | 20 March 2001]
His intellectual familiarity with Marxism helped him in the early 1980s when he compared the split within Labour between the left-wing
Tony Bennand Neil Kinnock as one between Bennite "quasi-Leninists", and "Luxemburgers", (named after the German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg), who favoured the more soft-left Neil Kinnock. He lent his support to Kinnock.
As an advisor to Kinnock, Reid was one of the earliest to embark on the crusade to reform and modernise the Labour Party. A mission completed by
Tony Blair's transformation of the Labour Party into a party fit for government in the 1990s [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservices/story/0,,976232,00.html The Guardian Thursday 12 June 2003] Guardian profile as Health Secretary] . In 1983, after the Labour Party's worst ever election defeat, he had, at Kinnock's request, put on a single sheet of paper what had been making Labour so unelectable for the past few years. "Leaderless, unpatriotic, dominated by demagogues, policies 15 years out of date", Reid had written. He was contemptuous of the party campaign machine which Harold Wilsonhad, in 1955, called a "penny-farthing". "The only difference now is that it's a rusty penny-farthing. Fix all these things and you will fix the party" Reid is quoted as saying . He regards New Labouras a natural development of Bevanism.
Elected to Parliament in 1987 as
Member of Parliamentfor Motherwell North, within two years Reid was appointed to the shadow Front Benchas spokesperson for Children. But it was in 1990, when Reid was appointed a Defence spokesperson, that he began to shine .
Controversially when the former
Yugoslaviawas breaking up in the 1990s Reid saw the importance of starting a dialogue with the Bosnian Serbs . However during the Bosnian War, Reid struck up a friendship with Serbrebel leader (and later indicted war-criminal) Radovan Karadžić; Reid admitted he spent three days at a luxury Genevalakeside hotel as a guest of Karadžić in 1993. This was during the period (April 1992-July 1995) in which the crimes for which Karadžić was indicted in 1995 were committed. [ [http://www.un.org/icty/indictment/english/kar-ii950724e.htm The International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, case no. IT-95-5-I] ICTY | July 1995]
When Labour came to power in 1997 John Reid served as Minister of State for Defence from until he became Minister of State for Transport in 1998. Reid held seven Cabinet posts in seven years while
Tony Blairwas Prime Minister:
Minister for the Armed Forces (Minister of State for Defence)
After the 1997 election, Reid was the obvious choice to become the Armed Forces Minister, where he played a key role in the then
Defence Secretary George Robertson's Strategic Defence Review . 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" .
Minister for Transport
Reid's reward for his success at Defence was to be given the unforgiving and thankless Minister of Transport brief in 1998, although it did mean that Reid would attend
Cabinetin a non-voting capacity . Sent by Prime Minister Blair to Transport to ensure the late-running and over-budget Jubilee subway line was completed by the end of the millennium, Reid was determined to fulfil his brief. Tunnelling problems and disputes with electricians had previously delayed the opening planned for 1998 and had driven the cost 50 percent above budget, to an estimated £2.9 billion (US$4.75 billion). Failure to finish the project would have been a disaster for the government and for the Millennium Dome, a festival site costing £750 million that was relying on the line to bring 35,000 visitors a day. He and John Prescottbrought in Bechtel as Project Managers, ensuring Phase 1 was opened on 1 May 1999, and the whole with the exception of one station (Westminster) was ultimately open for business by the Millennium [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/1999/02/11/tube.2.t.php THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1999] International Herald Tribune article] .During this time Reid showed himself to be a tough negotiator and hard political fighter. He also demonstrated "a capacity for non-dogmatic adaptability and reliability" [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2088690.stm BBC profile] ] and picked up the thereafter ubiquitous description as "a safe pair of hands" [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/1135456.stm Scottish BBC profile] ] .
Cabinet positions 1999-2007
Secretary of State for Scotland
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Minister Without Portfolioand Labour Party Chairman
Leader of the House of Commonsand Lord President of the Council
Secretary of State for Health
Secretary of State for Defence
Secretary of State for the Home Department( Home Secretary)
ecretary of State for Scotland
Having impressed at both Transport and Defence Reid was promoted to
Secretary of State for Scotlandon 17 May 1999 and a full place at the cabinet table .
In his first month, the Scottish Parliament was re-established after an interval of 300 years [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Scotland/Story/0,,205584,00.html Guardian coverage of the Scottish Parliament's opening] ] . Many considered the office to have decreased in importance with devolution but Reid used the position to built his profile, always prepared to put the government's case on any issue against tough TV interviewers [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Scotland/Story/0,,380902,00.html Guardian story on situation after Dewar's death] ] .
Donald Dewar, Scotland's respected First Minister, died in 2000 Reid’s name was even mentioned as a possible replacement . 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 Party First Minister, Henry McLeish, whom Reid felt was taking the Parliament down a nationalistpath . The situation became so strained between the two men that in an unguarded moment McLeish publicly labelled Reid "a patronising bastard" [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/vote2001/hi/english/scotland/newsid_1378000/1378867.stm Labours chiefs in "comments" row] , BBC News, 8 June 2001] .
ecretary of State for Northern Ireland
John Reid became
Secretary of State for Northern Irelandin January 2001 following the resignation of Peter Mandelson. He was the first Roman Catholicto hold the position [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2916357.stm Profile: John Reid] BBC News | 14 September 2006] . 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.
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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/2025701.stm Reid bid to halt Belfast rioting] ] . But blamed Paramilitaries from both sides of the community for on-going violence. He confronted both, on the ground, at a violent east
Belfastinterface, where he met loyalist residents of Cluan Place and then had talks with nationalist residents in the nearby Short Strand [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/2235971.stm Paramilitaries 'to blame' for violence] ] .
Reid ruled that ceasefires proclaimed by the
Ulster Defence Associationand the Loyalist Volunteer Forcecould no longer be recognised by the government because of their involvement in sectarian attacks and murders [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,2763,727561,00.html Riots engulf Belfast as peace line strains ceasefire to the limit] Guardian 5 June 2002] . 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 [ [http://www.rte.ie/news/2001/0923/north.html Reid puts pressure on IRA to decommission] RTÉ story 23 September 2001] .
It was in this context that, in October 2001 he welcomed a
Gerry Adamsspeech 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 [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,2763,579188,00.html Reid welcomes significant step] Guardian 23 October 2001] . And following the IRA's decision Reid responded by announcing the immediate demolition of British Armysecurity bases and announcing a reduction in troop levels as the security situation improved [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1618015.stm Reid announces NI security cuts] BBC 24 October 2001] , effectively beginning a process which culminated in September 2005, when the disarmament monitor for Northern Ireland, the Canadian General John de Chastelainannounced that the IRA) had given up its entire arsenal of weapons after more than three decades of armed struggle against British rule [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/09/26/nireland.arms/index.html IRA scraps all its arms] CNN International 26 September 2005] .
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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/northern_ireland/1556365.stm RUC title 'may go' by November] BBC story] .
However political problems continued, resulting in the suspension of the
Northern Ireland Assemblya year later in October 2002 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/northern_ireland/2325833.stm Assembly suspended over 'loss of trust'] BBC 14 October 2002] . 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 [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1169782.ece Blair tells Adams the IRA must disband] timesonline 11 October 2002] .
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 Streetwas concerned, Reid had gone a long way to delivering the rarest of political commodities - success in Northern Ireland .
Chairman of the Labour Party and Minister without Portfolio
Reid was appointed Chairman of the Labour Party and
Minister Without Portfolioon 24 October 2002. [cite web | title="BBC NEWS | UK | Northern Ireland | Northern Ireland chronology: 2002" | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/2933949.stm | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ]
As a purely political post his trouble-shooting skills were employed as the Labour Government's chief spokesperson earning him the nickname "Minister for the Today Program" (the Today Program being the
BBC's morning current affairs radio show) [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservices/story/0,,976232,00.html Cabinet hard man and Blair's political bullet-catcher] Guardian Thursday 12 June 2003 ] .
One of Reid's key challenges was to keep the
trade unions(the Labour Party's main funders) on-side 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) [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article808379.ece Blair's Valentine date to patch up with the unions] The Times online 4 January 2003] .
Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council
In March 2003,
Robin Cookresigned as Leader of the House of Commonsdue to his objections to the legality of Britain's involvement in the Iraq war. John Reid was appointed to take over the Office brief on 4 April as a heavyweight figure was more likely to ensure the Commons' continued support for the war. [cite news|title= World Briefing | Europe: Britain: New Commons Leader|publisher="The New York Times"|date=5 April 2003|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE0DB1538F936A35757C0A9659C8B63&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fC%2fCook%2c%20Robin] He was soon needed elsewhere in the Government however and held the position for only three months and was succeeded by Peter Hain.
ecretary of State for Health
John Reid was made
Secretary of State for Healthin June 2003, replacing Alan Milburnafter the latter's resignation. He was reportedly less than happy with the appointment, being quoted by " Private Eye" at the time as reacting "Oh fuck, it's health." [" Private Eye", 12 June 2003. Since then, the publication has regularly included the phrase "oh fuck, it's health" in any mention of his name.] 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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2088690.stm BBC Profile as Health Secretary] BBC 17 October 2002] .
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 [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article994054.ece NHS calls in Kwik-Fit-style eye surgeons] The Times online 13 January 2004] .
Reid also introduced plans to increase the number of smoke-free workplaces, improve diet and sexual health as part of a major drive to improve public health in England [ [http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Nl1/Newsroom/DG_4020201 John Reid outlines proposals to improve public health] UK Government DirectGov statement] and began a major public consultation as a precursor to parliamentary proposals aimed at improving the nation's health [ [http://www.nepho.org.uk/index.php?c=533 John Reid announces consultation on public health] North East Public Health Observatory] . He also encouraged volunteer engagement in the health service [ [http://www.csv.org.uk/News/Press+Releases/Press+Releases+Reid.htm John Reid Outlines the 'People's Potential' for strengthening the NHS] Centre for Voluntary Services] .
However, many of his changes caused controversy, and Reid was not afraid to take this criticism 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 it [ [http://www.epolitix.com/EN/News/200609/afcf6581-be9f-436c-ad52-a15e9e1f084e.htm e-politix profile] ] . Unsurprisingly he sometimes made the "Big Government" left wing of the Labour Party gasp [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/06/13/do1310.xml Telegraph Opinion] ] .
Reid's management style was considered autocratic by some and he came under considerable fire from National Health Service (NHS) leaders. A former director at the Department of Health criticised Reid's style of leadership, saying: "when John Reid came in we produced a series of major policy changes without consulting people, without even sharing them at draft stage... It’s not surprising, therefore, that [the NHS managers] didn’t feel the same level of ownership [of the policy changes] [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/publicservices/story/0,,1762169,00.html Catcalls, barracking and laughter force Hewitt to abandon speech] Guardian Story] .
As Health Secretary, John Reid had been in favour of limiting the government's proposed
smoking banas much as possible. In their 2005 election manifesto, Reid introduced a pledge to ban smoking in all places where food was served. However, his successor Patricia Hewittfavoured a complete ban. Reid won in the cabinet, gaining an exemption for private clubs and pubs that did not serve food [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4377250.stm Cabinet agrees England smoking ban] BBC News | 25 October 2005 ] . However, 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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4714992.stm Campaigners welcome smoking ban] BBC News | 15 February 2006] .
In March 2005, Reid called
BBC" Newsnight" presenter Jeremy Paxmana "West London wanker," after Paxman introduced John Reid in an interview as "an all-purpose attack dog" who "came out snarling and spent less time promoting Labour policy than trying to put the opposition into intensive care". Paxman later accused Reid of having a chip on his shoulder and Reid accused Paxman of class prejudice. [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/scotland/comment/0,,1440521,00.html The Guardian profile: The Scottish Raj] ]
ecretary of State for Defence
Following the incumbent Labour Party's 2005 general election victory, John Reid was appointed
Secretary of State for Defence. He replaced Geoff Hoon. [cite news|first=Alan|last=Cowell|title=Blair's new battle: Labour leadership|publisher="The Edmonton Sun"|date=7 May 2005|url=http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/05/07/news/brit.php?page=2]
At Defence Reid argued that democracy, restraint and respect for the rule of law are at the core of our national beliefs and even if they created a short-term tactical disadvantage, they represent a long-term strategic advantage - by basing our actions on principle, law, morality and right [http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1747036,00.htm International law needs to adapt to modern conflicts says Reid] The Guardian Wednesday 5 April 2006] . While at the same time he raised questions about the adequacy of the international legal framework in the light of modern developments in conflict. And Reid also 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 meant extending, not reducing, such conventions .
Reid took an aggressive approach to defending his government's international policy. Speaking ahead of a conference on NATO modernization in Germany on 4 February 2006, Reid asserted in a press interview that "no institution has the divine right to exist" [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4680162.stm Future of NATO at risk, says Reid] BBC News | 4 February 2006] . 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 sectariankilling, but there's not a civil war and we will not allow a civil war to develop". [cite news|first=Oliver|last=Poole|title=Iraq is now in 'a terrible civil war', admits Allawi|publisher="Telegraph.co.uk"|date=20 March 2006|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/03/20/wirq20.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/03/20/ixnewstop.html]
On 29 April 2006, police found a small quantity (less than 1 gram) of
cannabisresin in a guest room of his home [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4957354.stm Cannabis found at John Reid home] BBC News | 29 April 2006] . Reid denied all knowledge of the drug, and Strathclyde Policehave stated that he is not under suspicion of having committed any offence. The street value of the drugs would have been less than 85p.
By the time of the
2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict, Reid was no longer Defence Secretary, having been succeeded by Des Browne.
ecretary of State for the Home Department (Home Secretary)
Reid was appointed
Home Secretaryon 5 May 2006, replacing Charles Clarkeafter the latter was removed in the wake of a Home Officescandal involving the release of foreign national prisoners .
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 comentators as a bruiser, but with a strong academic leaning [http://www.epolitix.com/EN/News/200609/afcf6581-be9f-436c-ad52-a15e9e1f084e.htm Profile: John Reid] epolitix article as Home Secretary] ] .
At the Home Office Reid hit the ground running . He contended that rapid global change and the associated challenges of mass migration, terrorism and organised crime had overwhelmed the outdated Home Office approach [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/01/21/do2104.xml Telegraph Profile] Daily Telegraph 21 January 2007] . 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, and vowed to "make the public feel safe" [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5010918.stm Reid vowing to make Britain safer] BBC News | 24 May 2006] .
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 Directoratean 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
He condemned the probation service for letting people down, and argued for fundamental reform [ [http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/news/probation-review Home Office consultation] . An early decision during his time at the
Home Officewas to move child molesters living in hostels near schools further away from them. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5091530.stm Abusers moved from near schools] BBC News | 18 June 2006] 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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5250396.stm Reid calls for migration debate] BBC News |6 August 2006 ] . He made plain his view that talking about immigration is not in itself racist [ [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=399334&in_page_id=1770 Reid: Talking about immigration is not racist] Daily Mail 6 August 2006] . However The Guardianclaimed that Reid was "playing to the racist gallery" and compared his plans to Soviet-style central planning of the economy. [ [http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/philippe_legrain/2006/08/get_a_grip_john_reid.html Get a grip, Mr. Reid] Guardian Unlimited | 7 August 2006]
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 [http://icbirmingham.icnetwork.co.uk/mail/news/tm_headline=police-cells-to-ease-prison-crisis%26method=full%26objectid=17931828%26siteid=50002-name_page.html Police cells to ease prison crisis] Birmingham Mail | 9 October 2006] . John 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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6081850.stm John Reid & EU partners to crack down on the web used as propaganda] BBC News Politics | 26 October 2006 ] .
In 2006 Reid and the
Home Officelost their appeal against the High Court ruling in the Afghan hijackers case 2006. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5244936.stm BBC News: Reid loses Afghan hijack ruling] ] . In this controversial case, a group of nine Afghan men who hijacked a Boeing 727in February 2000, while fleeing the Talibanregime in Afghanistan, were granted leave to remainin the United Kingdom. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5245302.stm BBC News: Timeline of Afghan hijacker case] ] The original ruling in 2004 ruled that returning the men to Afghanistanwould breach their human rights under the Human Rights Act 1998. The Home Officegranted the men "temporary leave to remain", which involved restricting their freedom of movement and did not allow them to work [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5232922.stm BBC News: Reid fights Afghan hijack ruling] ] ; however, in 2006, the High Court ruled that the men must be granted "discretionary leave to remain", which includes the right to work. 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".
Reid accused government's critics of putting national security at risk by their failure to recognise the serious nature of the threat facing Britain. [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour/story/0,,1841019,00.html Anti-terror critics just don't get it, says Reid] The Guardian 10 August 2006] and called for reform of the human rights laws [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/17/nreid117.xml John Reid calls for human rights law reform] The Telegraph 17/09/2007] .
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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5163938.stm Terror warnings to be made public] BBC online] . The threat level, already at “Severe”, the second highest level [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2295582,00.html MI5 web page says attack threat is severe] The Times 2 August 2006] then moved even higher.
On 10 August Reid announced that the UK had been put on its 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 USA using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage [ [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2006/s1712046.htm UK police foil terrorist plot] ] . Extreme security measures had been put in place at all the country's airports [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/aug/10/terrorism.politics 'Mass Murder Terror Plot' Uncovered] The Guardian Thursday 10 August 2006] [ [http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/situation.room/blog/2006/08/political-hot-topics_10.html Political Hot Topics] CNN Situation Room 10 August 2006] .
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 [ [http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/uk/police%20foil%20terror%20plot/167665 Police foil terror plot] Channel Four online 10 August 2006] . 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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4790933.stm Judging the terror threat] BBC 14 6 August] . Reid also revealed that at least four major plots had been thwarted in the previous year [ [http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2006/08/14/2003323115] Taipei Times 14 August 2006] 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. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/10/22/nterr22.xml Al-Qa'eda is winning the war of ideas, says Reid] The Telegraph 24/10/2006] .
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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6081850.stm Anti-terror plan targets internet] BBC Thursday, 26 October 2006] . 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 glorifing terrorism and inciting racial hatred during nightly convesations (often using the nom de plume Abu Baraa) on a New-York based chatroom service [ [http://globalpolitician.com/articledes.asp?ID=2184&cid=3&sid=74 Islamic Caliphate in Britain?] Global Politician 9/25/2006] .
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 [ [http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/001138.php Why Tories should fear John Reid] Social Affairs Unit archives] .
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 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2916357.stm Profile: John Reid] BBC profile Sunday, 6 May 2007] .
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 Brownin the leadership election and his administration. In September 2007 he announced that he would not seek re-election at the next general election. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6996322.stm BBC: Reid to step down at next poll] ]
In December 2004 and October 2005, John Reid voted in favour of a bill enabling the
British national identity card. [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 20 Dec 2004 (pt 42)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmhansrd/vo041220/debtext/41220-42.htm#41220-42_div24 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Oct 2005 (pt 35)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/vo051018/debtext/51018-35.htm#51018-35_div60 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] He voted for the NHS Foundation Trustproposal. [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 8 Jul 2003 (pt 27)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/vo030708/debtext/30708-27.htm#30708-27_div280 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] He also voted in favour of allowing unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples to adopt, [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 4 Nov 2002 (pt 28)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo021104/debtext/21104-28.htm#21104-28_div345 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] and for lowering the age of consent for gay sex to 16. [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/howtheyvoted/0,,-4372,00.html Details of key John Reid votes by "The Guardian"] ] John Reid voted for the replacement of the Trident system. [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 14 Mar 2007 (pt 0022)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070314/debtext/70314-0022.htm#07031475002466 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] He voted against all the House of Lords reform options except a fully appointed House of Lords.
On the issue of Labour anti-terrorism laws, he voted against only allowing people detained at a police station to be fingerprinted and searched for an identifying birthmark if it is in connection with a terrorism investigation. [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 26 Nov 2001 (pt 30)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmhansrd/vo011126/debtext/11126-30.htm#11126-30_div82 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] He voted against changing the text in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill from "The Secretary of State may make a
control orderagainst an individual" to "The Secretary of State may "apply to the court" for a control order...." [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 Feb 2005 (pt 40)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmhansrd/vo050228/debtext/50228-40.htm#50228-40_div101 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ]
In March 2003, he voted against a motion that the case had not yet been made for war against Iraq, [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Mar 2003 (pt 47)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/vo030318/debtext/30318-47.htm#30318-47_div117 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] and voted for the declaration of war against Iraq. [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Mar 2003 (pt 48)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/vo030318/debtext/30318-48.htm#30318-48_div118 | accessdate= 19 September | accessyear= 2007 ] In June 2007, he voted against a motion calling for an independent inquiry by a committee of
Privy Counsellorsinto the Iraq War. [cite web | title="House of Commons Hansard Debates for 11 Jun 2007 (pt 0015)" | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070611/debtext/70611-0015.htm#07061179001224 | accessdate= 17 September | accessyear= 2007 ]
On 28 September 2007 it was announced John Reid would become Chairman of
Celtic F.C.and he took over from Brian Quinn as Chairman on 7 November 2007. His appointment was ratified by Celtic's shareholders on 19 November 2007 despite him being labelled a "war criminal" by some of the club's fans [ [http://sport.scotsman.com/football.cfm?id=1827162007 Scotsman.com Sport ] ] , while a journalist found him "an engaging and intriguing Celtic chairman," [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/scotland/article3066050.ece John Reid’s anti-slogan pitch is tough] The Times Online 18 December 2007] . Reid is a lifelong supporter of the club and described the appointment as the next best thing to playing for his heroes. [ [http://www.celticfc.net/news/stories/news_280907143835.aspx Board changes at Celtic PLC] ] Additionally he holds 3,000 ordinary shares and 3,000 preference shares in Celtic. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7018573.stm Reid named as new Celtic chairman] BBC News Online, [2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-09-29.]
British House of Commons
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
* [http://www.drjohnreid.co.uk Rt Hon. Dr John Reid MP Contact]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20070220155314/http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page1388.asp Downing Street - Dr John Reid] official biography
* [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,9290,-4372,00.html Guardian Unlimited Politics - Ask Aristotle: John Reid MP]
* [http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/john_reid/airdrie_and_shotts TheyWorkForYou.com - John Reid MP]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2088690.stm John Reid] — profile from
BBC News Online, 17 October 2002
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Northern_Ireland/Story/0,2763,659705,00.html The Operator - John Reid profile] , "
The Guardian", 2 March 2002
* [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=John_Reid SourceWatch profile of John Reid MP]
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