John Reid, Baron Reid of Cardowan

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Reid of Cardowan
John Reid on his last day as Home Secretary, June 2007.jpg
Home Secretary
In office
5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Charles Clarke
Succeeded by Jacqui Smith
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
6 May 2005 – 5 May 2006
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Geoff Hoon
Succeeded by Des Browne
Secretary of State for Health
In office
13 June 2003 – 6 May 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Alan Milburn
Succeeded by Patricia Hewitt
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
4 April 2003 – 13 June 2003
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Deputy Ben Bradshaw
Preceded by Robin Cook
Succeeded by Peter Hain
Lord President of the Council
In office
4 April 2003 – 13 June 2003
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Robin Cook
Succeeded by The Lord Williams of Mostyn
Minister without Portfolio
Labour Party Chair
In office
24 October 2002 – 4 April 2003
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Charles Clarke
Succeeded by Ian McCartney
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
25 January 2001 – 24 October 2002
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Peter Mandelson
Succeeded by Paul Murphy
Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
17 May 1999 – 25 January 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Donald Dewar
Succeeded by Helen Liddell
Minister of State for Transport
In office
27 July 1998 – 17 May 1999
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Gavin Strang
Succeeded by Helen Liddell
Minister of State for the Armed Forces
In office
2 May 1997 – 27 July 1998
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Nicholas Soames
Succeeded by Doug Henderson
Member of Parliament
for Airdrie and Shotts
In office
5 May 2005 – 6 May 2010
Preceded by Helen Liddell
Succeeded by Pamela Nash
Member of Parliament
for Hamilton North and Bellshill
Motherwell North (1987–1997)
In office
12 June 1987 – 12 April 2005
Preceded by James Hamilton
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1947-05-08) 8 May 1947 (age 75)
Bellshill, Scotland
Political party Labour
Alma mater Open University
University of Stirling
Religion Roman Catholicism

John Reid, Baron Reid of Cardowan (born 8 May 1947) is a British Labour Party politician. He was a Member of Parliament from 1987 to 2010, and served in the Cabinet under Prime Minister Tony Blair in a number of positions. He was Health Secretary from 2003 to 2005, Defence Secretary from 2005 to 2006, and Home Secretary from 2006 to 2007.

Born in Bellshill to working class, Roman Catholic parents, Reid first became involved in politics when he joined the Young Communist League in 1972.[1] He later joined the Labour Party, working for them as a senior researcher before being elected to the House of Commons in 1987 as the MP for Motherwell North.

He retired from front-line politics in 2007 following Gordon Brown's appointment as Prime Minister, taking on a role as the Chairman of Celtic Football Club. He later stepped down as an MP in 2010, and was elevated to the House of Lords. Reid also took a leading role in the campaign for a 'No' vote in the 2011 AV referendum, appearing alongside David Cameron.[2] and has taken a leading role in the campaign against Scottish independence.


Reid was born in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, to working class Roman Catholic parents; his grandparents were of mixed denomination. His grandfather was "a staunch Church of Scotland Presbyterian and his grandmother a poor and illiterate Irish peasant."[3] 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.[3]

Reid attributes his success to hard work and a good education. Like his successor as Scottish Secretary, Helen Liddell he attended St Patrick's Secondary School, Coatbridge. The headmaster of St Patrick's, James Breen, was described as being driven by the belief that working class children could make good in their lives provided there was discipline.[3] The teenage Reid showed an early talent for organisation and political activism by leading a strike in 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.[3] Eventually the Headmaster conceded and the strike ended.

Leaving 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 Glasgow after the city was hit by storms in late 1968 and saw poverty of a sort he did not 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 had no coal fire. Soon after this he joined the Labour Party.[3]

It was also around this time that Reid's lifelong passion for history was kindled when his girlfriend (and later wife), Cathie McGowan, bought him a copy of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. Reid was spellbound.[3] Following this he attended the Open University in his mid-twenties to study a Foundation Course and then later attended the University of Stirling, gaining a BA in history and a PhD in economic history, with a thesis on the slave trade written as a critique of the Marxist model 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.[4][5]

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.[6] 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.[4]

Reid was married to Cathie McGowan from 1969[7] until her sudden death from a heart attack in 1998.[4][8] In 2002 he married the Jewish Brazilian film director Carine Adler.[9]

According to The Guardian (23 September 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".[clarification needed] Reid stopped drinking in 1994 and stopped smoking cigarettes in 2003.[10] In May 2007 it was alleged that Reid had given up alcohol as a consequence of having harassed a fellow Labour MP in the early 1990s whilst drunk.[11]

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.[12] He was an early member of Labour Friends of Israel.[13]

Political ideology

Reid grew up in a very working class environment. He is intensely proud of his industrial working class upbringing[14] and one of his favourite mottoes is "better a broken nose than a bended knee".[15]

At university Reid, for a time, became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain of which he has said: "I used to be a Communist. I used to believe in Santa Claus".[16] 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 students' union and win the election. His political career was launched.[7]

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.[17]

His intellectual familiarity with Marxism helped him in the early 1980s when he compared the split within Labour between the left-wing Tony Benn and 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.[5]

As an advisor to Kinnock, Reid was one of the earliest to embark on the crusade to reform and modernise the Labour Party.[3] 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 Wilson had, 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.[3] He regards New Labour as a natural development of Bevanism.

Elected to Parliament in 1987 as Member of Parliament for Motherwell North, within two years Reid was appointed to the shadow Front Bench as spokesperson for Children. In 1990 Reid was appointed a Defence spokesperson.[3]

When the former Yugoslavia was breaking up in the 1990s Reid considered it important to start a dialogue with the Bosnian Serbs.[15] During the Bosnian War, Reid struck up a friendship with the Serb rebel leader, Radovan Karadžić, later to be indicted as a war-criminal. Reid admitted he spent three days at a luxury Geneva lakeside hotel as a guest of Karadžić in 1993.[5] This was during the period (April 1992 – July 1995) in which the crimes for which Karadžić was indicted in 1995 were committed.[18]

Government career

When Labour came to power in 1997 John Reid served as Minister of State for Defence. He became Minister of State for Transport in 1998. Reid held seven Cabinet posts in seven years while Tony Blair was Prime Minister:[14]

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.[3] 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".[4][5]

Minister for Transport

In 1998 Reid moved from Defence to become the Minister of Transport.[19] The Prime Minister Tony Blair then sent Reid to the Department of Transport to ensure the late-running and over-budget London Underground Jubilee Line Extension was completed by the end of 2000.[20] He and John Prescott brought in Bechtel as Project Managers, ensuring Phase 1 was opened on 1 May 1999, and the whole Jubilee line with the exception of one station (Westminster) was ultimately open for business by the Millennium.[20] Reid demonstrated several aspects: he negotiated strongly; he was a political fighter; he had a "capacity for non-dogmatic adaptability and reliability";[21] and was described as "a safe pair of hands".[22]

Cabinet positions 1999–2007

Secretary of State for Scotland

Having impressed at both Transport and Defence Reid was promoted to Secretary of State for Scotland on 17 May 1999 and a full place at the cabinet table.[19]

In his first month, the Scottish Parliament was re-established after an interval of 300 years.[23] The reconstituted Scotland Office had been much reduced in importance with devolution but Reid used the position to build his profile, prepared to put the government's case on any issue against TV interviewers.[24]

After Donald Dewar, Scotland's respected First Minister, died in 2000 Reid's name was even mentioned as a possible replacement.[24] 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 First Minister, Henry McLeish, whom Reid felt was taking the Parliament down a nationalist path.[5] The situation became so strained between the two that in an unguarded moment McLeish publicly labelled Reid "a patronising bastard".[25]

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

John Reid became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in January 2001 following the resignation of Peter Mandelson. He was the first Roman Catholic to hold the position.[14] 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.[5]

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.[26] He blamed Paramilitaries from both sides of the community for on-going violence. He confronted both, on the ground, at a violent east Belfast interface, where he met loyalist residents of Cluan Place and then had talks with nationalist residents in the nearby Short Strand.[27]

Reid ruled that ceasefires proclaimed by the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force could no longer be recognised by the government because of their involvement in sectarian attacks and murders.[28] 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.[29]

It was in this context that, in October 2001 he welcomed a Gerry Adams speech 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.[30] And following the IRA's decision Reid responded by announcing the immediate demolition of British Army security bases and announcing a reduction in troop levels as the security situation improved,[31] effectively beginning a process which culminated in September 2005, when the disarmament monitor for Northern Ireland, the Canadian General John de Chastelain announced that the IRA had given up its entire arsenal of weapons after more than three decades of armed struggle against British rule.[32]

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.[33]

Political problems continued, resulting in the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly a year later in October 2002.[34] 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.[35]

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 Street was concerned, Reid had gone a long way to delivering the rarest of political commodities – success in Northern Ireland.[5]

Chairman of the Labour Party and Minister without Portfolio

Reid was appointed Chairman of the Labour Party and Minister Without Portfolio on 24 October 2002.[36]

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 Programme".

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).[37]

John Reid and United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answer press questions in Taormina, Sicily (9 February 2006)

Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council

In March 2003, Robin Cook resigned as Leader of the House of Commons due 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.[38] He held the position for only three months and was succeeded by Peter Hain.

Secretary of State for Health

John Reid was made Secretary of State for Health in June 2003, replacing Alan Milburn after the latter's resignation. He was reportedly less than happy with the appointment. He was reported by Private Eye at the time as reacting "Oh fuck, not health."[39] 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.[21]

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.[40]

He was severely criticised for giving GPs a 22% pay rise while allowing them to opt out of weekend and evening treatment.[41] This was the start of a pattern whereby Reid would side with powerful bureaucratic forces in the ministries he ran.

Reid also introduced plans to increase the number of smoke-free workplaces and improve diet and sexual health as part of a major drive to improve public health in England[42] and began a major public consultation as a precursor to parliamentary proposals aimed at improving the nation's health.[43] He also encouraged volunteer engagement in the health service.[44]

Many of his changes caused criticism and controversy, which Reid was not afraid to take 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 them.[4] Unsurprisingly he sometimes made the "Big Government" left wing of the Labour Party gasp.[15]

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 his style of leadership, saying: "[W]hen John Reid came in he 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]".[45]

Health Secretary John Reid tasked NHS hospitals with achieving a year on year reduction to halve the hospital superbug MRSA up to and beyond March 2008. Official rates showed year on year increases in England since measurement of MRSA bloodstream infections began in 2001. He was the first Health Minister to bring in tough challenges for hospitals to reduce healthcare associated infections.[46]

As Health Secretary, Reid had been in favour of limiting the government's proposed smoking ban as much as possible. In their 2005 election manifesto, he introduced a pledge to ban smoking in all places where food was served. His successor Patricia Hewitt favoured a complete ban. Reid won in the cabinet, gaining an exemption for private clubs and pubs that did not serve food.[47] 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.[48]

In March 2005, John Reid called BBC TV Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman a "West London wanker," after Paxman introduced him 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.[49]

Secretary of State for Defence

John Reid answers questions at a Pentagon briefing on 7 November 2005.

Following the incumbent Labour Party's 2005 general election victory, John Reid was appointed Secretary of State for Defence. He replaced Geoff Hoon.[50]

At Defence Reid argued that "democracy, restraint and respect for the rule of law are at the core of our national beliefs… even if they create a short-term tactical disadvantage, they represent a long-term strategic advantage – by basing our actions on principle, law, morality and right".[51] At the same time he raised questions about "the adequacy of the international legal framework in the light of modern developments in conflict". He 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 means extending, not reducing, such conventions".[51]

Reid committed 3,300 troops to Helmand province, Afghanistan in January 2006.[52] As Secretary of State he is often misquoted as saying troops would leave "without a single shot being fired." He actually said "We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years and without firing one shot because our job is to protect the reconstruction." [53] By 2008, 4 million bullets had been fired by the British armed forces.[54]

Reid took an aggressive approach to defending his government's international policy. Speaking ahead of a conference on NATO modernisation in Germany on 4 February 2006, Reid asserted in a press interview that "no institution has the divine right to exist".[55] 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 sectarian killing, but there's not a civil war and we will not allow a civil war to develop".[56]

On 29 April 2006, police found a small quantity (less than 1 gram) of cannabis resin in a guest room of his home.[57] Reid denied all knowledge of the drug, and Strathclyde Police have 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.

On 3 February 2010, Reid gave evidence about his role as Defence Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry.[58]

Home Secretary

Reid was appointed Home Secretary on 5 May 2006, replacing Charles Clarke after the latter was removed in the wake of a Home Office scandal involving the release of foreign national prisoners.[14]

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 commentators as a bruiser, but with a strong academic leaning.[4]

At the Home Office Reid hit the ground running.[4] He contended that rapid global change and the associated challenges of mass migration, terrorism and organised crime had overwhelmed the outdated Home Office approach.[59] 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".[60]

Reid's comments were rebuffed by Clarke,[61] who criticised his comments in a defence of his own period in office.[62]

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 Directorate an 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.[59]

He condemned the probation service for letting people down, and argued for fundamental reform.[63] An early decision during his time at the Home Office was to move child molesters living in hostels near schools further away from them.[64] 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.[65] The Guardian claimed that Reid was "playing to the racist gallery" and compared his plans to Soviet-style central planning of the economy.[66]

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.[67] 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.[68]

In 2006 Reid and the Home Office lost their appeal against the High Court ruling in the Afghan hijackers case 2006.[69] In this controversial case, a group of nine Afghan men who hijacked a Boeing 727 in February 2000, while fleeing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, were granted leave to remain in the United Kingdom.[70] The original ruling in 2004 ruled that returning the men to Afghanistan would breach their human rights under the Human Rights Act 1998. The Home Office granted the men "temporary leave to remain", which involved restricting their freedom of movement and did not allow them to work;[71] in 2006, the High Court ruled that the men must be granted "discretionary leave to remain", which includes the right to work.[15] 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".[71]

Reid accused government's critics of putting national security at risk by their failure to recognise the serious nature of the threat facing Britain.[72] and called for reform of the human rights laws.[73]

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.[74] The threat level, already at "Severe", the second highest level,[75] then moved even higher.

On 10 August, Reid announced that the UK had been put 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 US using explosives smuggled in carry-on luggage.[76] Extreme security measures had been put in place at all the country's airports.[77][78]

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.[79] 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.[80] Reid also revealed that at least four major plots had been thwarted in the previous year[81] 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.[82]

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.[83]

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 glorifying terrorism and inciting racial hatred during nightly conversations (often using the nom de plume Abu Baraa) on a New York-based chatroom service.[84]

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.[85]

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.[14]

Resignation from cabinet

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 Brown in the leadership election and his administration.[86] In September 2007 he announced that he would not seek re-election at the next general election.[87]

Reid was linked with a return to cabinet in June 2009 under Gordon Brown but reportedly turned down the offer.[88]


In December 2004 and October 2005, John Reid voted in favour of a bill enabling the British national identity card.[89][90] He voted for the NHS Foundation Trust proposal.[91] He also voted in favour of allowing unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples to adopt,[92] and for lowering the age of consent for gay sex to 16.[93] John Reid voted for the replacement of the Trident system.[94] He voted against all the House of Lords reform options except a fully appointed House of Lords.[3]

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.[95] He voted against changing the text in the Prevention of Terrorism Bill from "The Secretary of State may make a control order against an individual" to "The Secretary of State may apply to the court for a control order...."[96]

In March 2003, he voted against a motion that the case had not yet been made for war against Iraq,[97] and voted for the declaration of war against Iraq.[98] In June 2007, he voted against a motion calling for an independent inquiry by a committee of Privy Counsellors into the Iraq War.[99]

After cabinet

On 10 May 2010 Reid argued on BBC television that David Cameron should become the next Prime Minister in the interests of honouring the democratic wishes of the British people with the Conservative Party having received more votes than any other party[100] – even though had Labour and the Liberal Democrats formed an alliance, their combined votes would outnumber Conservative ones at the 2010 General Election[101] – stating that a Labour / Liberal Democrat alliance would still not form a parliamentary majority.[102][103]

In May 2010 it was announced that Reid had been made a life peer in the dissolution honours after the 2010 Election.[104][105] He was created Baron Reid of Cardowan, of Stepps in Lanarkshire.

In April 2011, to the distress of Labour colleagues,[106] he successfully campaigned with the Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, and others against changes to voting. During the campaign he made the claim that the Alternative Vote would violate the principle of 1 person 1 vote. He wrote that "it gives the supporters of unpopular fringe candidates numerous votes, while mainstream voters only get one".[107]

In June 2014 Reid appeared in a full-page advert in the Scottish Catholic Observer, encouraging readers to vote against Scottish independence in the September referendum. The advert failed to state who had paid for it, which is a breach of Electoral Commission rules, and following complaints Reid revealed that it had been paid for by an organisation led by Willie Haughey.[108]


Following the general scandal over MP expenses in 2009, Sir Thomas Legg requested £2,731.88 be repaid, but Dr Reid chose to repay a total of £7,336.51.[109] A later offer to refund £4,604.63 was accepted in 2010.[110]

Outside politics


On 28 September 2007, it was announced John Reid would become Chairman of Celtic Football Club[111] taking over from Brian Quinn. His appointment was ratified by Celtic's shareholders on 19 November 2007.[112] Sports journalist Graham Spiers found him "an engaging and intriguing Celtic chairman".[113]

Reid is a lifelong supporter of the club and described the appointment as "an honour and a privilege"[114] Additionally he holds "Like every schoolboy who supported Celtic, I always dreamed of pulling on the Hoops and scoring at Celtic Park. I never made it as a player, but this is certainly the next best thing.

"It will be an honour and a privilege not only to take up this position, but also to follow in the footsteps of a man like Brian, whose reputation for integrity, achievement and commitment to Celtic is of the very highest order. He has left a proud legacy of sporting and financial success that stands comparison with anyone's and I am looking forward immensely to continuing those traditions."

At Celtic's Annual General Meeting held on 29 October 2009, Reid highlighted the plight of the club's closest rivals Rangers. In response to a question on the club's spending, Reid said:

"If you start getting into a position where you are running up debts that you cannot afford, spending money you don't have, it is the road not to success but to ruin.

"The people who decide whether we will sell players or buy players are the management and the board, who are accountable to the fans and shareholders. Not some anonymous director of a bank."

As in politics, Reid has become a controversial chairman who has gained a reputation with fans and other clubs as a confrontational figure. During the 2010–2011 SPL season, Reid is alleged to have exacerbated an already volatile situation between his club and referees after a series of decisions made by a number of Scotland's referees came under question; Reid called for one referee to be fired and that all referees should disclose their 'allegiance' (i.e. which team they support).[115] This pressure, was a factor in the decision made by Scottish referees to take strike action.

University of London

In late 2008 it was announced that John Reid would be taking up the post of honorary Professor at the University College London and become the chairman of the newly created Institute of Security and Resilience Studies (ISRS) at UCL. Of the institute Reid said: "I believe that the ISRS can play a vital role in developing innovative thinking and producing new solutions to help us all be better prepared for the demanding challenges of today's world. The resilience to withstand, recover and move on from crisis is now an issue requiring both academic study and wider understanding at all levels of society. Peoples and nations are now being put to the test, not only by the more traditional issues of conflict, wars and inter-state threats but also a range of new security issues. Countries, societies and economies that cannot develop better the capacity to prevent, resist and recover will be left vulnerable and exposed. I am delighted to be able to use my experience in this new academic endeavour".[116][117]


On 18 December 2008 G4S (Group 4 Securicor) announced that Reid would be taking up a post with the company as Group Consultant.[118]

Top Level Group

Reid is currently a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, established in October 2009.[119]


In June 2009, Reid was controversially awarded an honorary degree from Stirling University "for his contribution to public affairs".[120][121][122][123]

See also


  1. Tom Bower. "'...Reid stood in the elections. Success depended upon support not only from Labour students but also from the communists. Approaching Jim White, the secretary of the Young Communist League, Reid professed to be a convert seeking membership. "He told us he was a Leninist and Stalinist," White recalls. "Although I was suspicious about his transition, we couldn't tell if he was acting. We let him join." With White's support and Reid's good organisation, he won the vote.'". Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Richardson, Miranda (26 November 2010). "Labour Ex-Ministers To Fight Voting Reform". Sky News Online. Retrieved 27 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 John Reid: The Blairite bruiser The Independent, 27 January 2001
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 " – Profile: John Reid". Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2007. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ePolitix" defined multiple times with different content
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 The Operator The Guardian, 2 March 2002
  6. "Secretary of State for Defence". National Archives. Ministry of Defence. 26 May 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Dark Horse The Guardian, 23 September 2006
  8. British Bulldog Sunday Business Post, 20 August 2006
  9. Wedding bells beckon for NI secretary BBC News, 5 February 2002
  10. The hard-drinking, hard-smoking health secretary, Men's Health Forum, 1 February 2005
  11. The day leadership rival John Reid propositioned the young Brown ally Dawn Primarolo – and never drank again SIMON WALTERS, Mail Online, 3 May 2007
  12. Profile:Dr. John Reid BBC News, 24 October 2002
  13. David Blunkett to return to the Cabinet in major reshuffle The Daily Telegraph, 1 May 2005
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Profile: John Reid BBC News, 6 May 2007
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Profile: John Reid Daily Telegraph, 13 June 2004
  16. Profile: John Reid – The Blairite bruiser Find Articles, 27 January 2001
  17. Profile of John Reid The Guardian, 20 March 2001
  18. The International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, case no. IT-95-5-I ICTY, July 1995
  19. 19.0 19.1 The Guardian Profile: John Reid The Guardian, 12 June 2003
  20. 20.0 20.1 Its New Transport Line Is Late and Over Budget : Will the New Century Get to London on Time? New York Times, 11 February 1999
  21. 21.0 21.1 John Reid BBC News, 17 October 2002
  22. Dr John Reid: Profile BBC Scotland, 24 January 2001
  23. History made as Scottish parliament opens The Guardian, 12 May 1999
  24. 24.0 24.1 After Donald ... The Guardian, 12 October 2000
  25. Labours chiefs in "comments" row BBC News, 8 June 2001
  26. Reid bid to halt Belfast rioting BBC News, 5 June 2002
  27. Paramilitaries 'to blame' for violence BBC News, 4 September 2002
  28. Riots engulf Belfast as peace line strains ceasefire to the limit The Guardian, 5 June 2002
  29. Reid puts pressure on IRA to decommission RTÉ News, 23 September 2001
  30. Reid welcomes significant step The Guardian, 23 October 2001
  31. Reid announces NI security cuts BBC News, 24 October 2001
  32. IRA scraps all its arms CNN International, 26 September 2005
  33. RUC title 'may go' by November BBC News, 21 September 2001
  34. Assembly suspended over 'loss of trust' BBC News, 14 October 2002
  35. Blair tells Adams the IRA must disband Times Online, 11 October 2002
  36. "Northern Ireland chronology: 2002". BBC News. 9 April 2003. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Blair's Valentine date to patch up with the unions Times Online, 4 January 2003
  38. Hoge, Warren (5 April 2003). "World Briefing Europe: Britain: New Commons Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. Private Eye, 12 June 2003; Since then, the publication has regularly included the phrase "oh fuck, not health" in any mention of his name
  40. NHS calls in Kwik-Fit-style eye surgeons Times Online, 13 January 2004
  41. Jagger, Suzy (12 April 2010). "Tories promise to change GP contracts as key part of manifesto". The Times. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. John Reid outlines proposals to improve public health UK Government DirectGov statement
  43. John Reid announces consultation on public health North East Public Health Observatory
  44. John Reid Outlines the 'People's Potential' for strengthening the NHS Centre for Voluntary Services
  45. Catcalls, barracking and laughter force Hewitt to abandon speech The Guardian, 27 April 2006
  46. "Friday 5 November 2004". BBC News. 5 November 2004. Retrieved 22 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. Cabinet agrees England smoking ban BBC News, 25 October 2005
  48. Campaigners welcome smoking ban BBC News, 15 February 2006
  49. The Guardian profile: The Scottish Raj The Guardian, 18 March 2005
  50. Cowell, Alan (7 May 2005). "Blair's new battle: Labour leadership". The Edmonton Sun.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  51. 51.0 51.1 International law needs to adapt to modern conflicts says Reid The Guardian, 5 April 2006
  52. Haynes, Deborah; Loyd, Anthony; Kiley, Sam; Coghlan, Tom (9 June 2010). "Officers mess military chiefs blamed for blundering into Helmand with eyes shut and fingers crossed". The Times. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  53. "UK troops 'to target terrorists'". BBC News. 24 April 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  54. Harding, Thomas (12 January 2008). "A year in Helmand: 4m bullets fired by British". The Daily Telegraph. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  55. Future of NATO at risk, says Reid BBC News, 4 February 2006
  56. Poole, Oliver (20 March 2006). "Iraq is now in 'a terrible civil war', admits Allawi". London: Daily Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  57. Cannabis found at John Reid home BBC News, 29 April 2006
  58. "Vietnam war affected US planning for Iraq – John Reid". BBC News. 3 February 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  59. 59.0 59.1 I can fix the problems, but I need three years Daily Telegraph, 21 January 2007
  60. Reid vowing to make Britain safer BBC News, 24 May 2006
  61. Key quotes: Clarke's anger BBC News, 27 June 2006
  62. EXCLUSIVE: Charles Clarke Says John Reid is Not Fit For Purpose Iain Dale's Diary, 26 June 2006
  63. John Reid orders probation review Home Office, 7 November 2006
  64. Abusers moved from near schools BBC News | 18 June 2006
  65. Reid calls for migration debate BBC News, 6 August 2006
  66. Get a grip, Mr. Reid Guardian Unlimited, 7 August 2006
  67. Police cells to ease prison crisis Birmingham Mail, 9 October 2006
  68. John Reid & EU partners to crack down on the web used as propaganda BBC News, 26 October 2006
  69. Reid loses Afghan hijack ruling BBC News, 4 August 2006
  70. Timeline of Afghan hijacker case BBC News
  71. 71.0 71.1 Reid fights Afghan hijack ruling BBC News, 31 July 2006
  72. Anti-terror critics just don't get it, says Reid The Guardian, 10 August 2006
  73. John Reid calls for human rights law reform The Telegraph, 17 September 2007
  74. Terror warnings to be made public BBC News, 10 July 2006
  75. MI5 web page says attack threat is severe The Times, 2 August 2006
  76. UK police foil terrorist plot ABC – PM, 10 August 2006
  77. 'Mass Murder Terror Plot' Uncovered The Guardian, 10 August 2006
  78. Political Hot Topics CNN Situation Room, 10 August 2006
  79. Police foil terror plot Channel 4 News, 10 August 2006
  80. Judging the terror threat BBC News, 6 August
  81. UK says more terror plots thwarted Taipei Times, 14 August 2006
  82. Al-Qa'eda is winning the war of ideas, says Reid The Telegraph, 24 October 2006
  83. Anti-terror plan targets internet BBC News, 26 October 2006
  84. Islamic Caliphate in Britain? Global Politician, 25 September 2006
  85. Why Tories should fear John Reid Social Affairs Unit archives, 28 September 2006
  86. Reid to resign as home secretary BBC News, 6 May 2007
  87. Reid to step down at next poll BBC News, 15 September 2007
  88. Allies of Brown go on offensive BBC News, 4 June 2009
  89. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 20 Dec 2004 (pt 42)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  90. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Oct 2005 (pt 35)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  91. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 8 Jul 2003 (pt 27)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  92. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 4 Nov 2002 (pt 28)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  93. "Details of key John Reid votes". London: The Guardian. 3 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  94. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 14 Mar 2007 (pt 0022)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  95. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 26 Nov 2001 (pt 30)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  96. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 28 Feb 2005 (pt 40)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  97. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Mar 2003 (pt 47)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  98. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Mar 2003 (pt 48)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 19 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  99. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 11 Jun 2007 (pt 0015)". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  100. Lib-Lab coalition 'bad for the country' BBC News, 10 May 2010
  101. Brown resignation: Reaction in quotes BBC News, 11 May 2010
  102. Hung parliament: The Lib Dem and Labour dilemmas BBC News, 11 May 2010
  103. Hung parliament: Labour 'close to conceding defeat' BBC News, 11 May 2010
  104. Dissolution Honours: John Prescott made a peer BBC News, 28 May 2010
  105. Dissolution Honours: Dissolution list BBC News, 28 May 2010
  106. Grice, Andrew (19 April 2011). "Labour 'spitting blood' over Reid's backing for Cameron on voting reform". The Independent. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  107. "Why Britain should vote No in next year's AV referendum, Lord Reid, The Telegraph, 26 November 2011". 26 November 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  108. "Third time lucky ... Labour peer finally gets it right about who paid for Reid ad". Herald Scotland. 22 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  109. John Reid: MPs' expenses verdict from Sir Thomas Legg STV News, 4 February 2010
  110. John Reid gets over £4,000 repaid in expenses refund Wishaw Press, 25 August 2010
  111. Reid named as new Celtic chairman BBC News, 28 September 2007
  112. Nathanson, Patrick (19 November 2007). "Celtic appoint John Reid as chairman". London: Telegraph.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  113. John Reid's anti-slogan pitch is tough Times Online, 18 December 2007
  114. Board changes at Celtic PLC Celtic FC, 28 September 2007
  115. "John Reid's speech turns referee drama into a crisis – Yahoo! Eurosport UK". Retrieved 22 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  116. Security and resilience solutions for the 21st century: a new UCL institute University College London, 17 November 2008
  117. Mass migration threatens Britain's national security, says John Reid Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2008
  118. G4S Appoints Reid Security Oracle, 18 December 2008
  119. Borger, Julian (8 September 2009). "Nuclear-free world ultimate aim of new cross-party pressure group". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  120. Reid celebrates honorary degree BBC News, 24 June 2009
  121. Anger over honour for Reid the 'war criminal' The Times, 3 May 2009
  122. Honorary degree for Reid sparks outrage The Scotsman, 4 May 2009
  123. Students' anger at honour for former minister Herald Scotland, 4 May 2009

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