Derek Scott: Economic adviser to Tony Blair who warned against joining the eurozone

Blair praised Scott's acerbic views but wrote that he had 'the diplomatic skills of Dirty Harry'

Derek Scott hankered after life as an elected politician but had to settle for being a political adviser, albeit to two big political beasts, Labour's Denis Healey and Tony Blair. He found the last post frustrating. No 10 figures like Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell carried weight because they operated directly to Tony Blair. Scott's influence was limited because of Gordon Brown's dominance of the Labour government's economic agenda and resentment of him as a Blair adviser. Blair's weakness meant that Scott's undoubted economic expertise was never fully exploited.

Scott, born in 1947, was brought up in Bromsgrove, where his father was a jeweller. He graduated in politics and history at Liverpool University and did master's degrees at the LSE and Birkbeck College. He worked in the research unit of a trade union and in the 1970s was a Labour councillor in Chelsea and Kensington. To his surprise, he was invited to join Denis Healey as a special adviser in 1977.

The context of his role as Healey's economic adviser was different from what he experienced 20 years later. The Labour government had no majority in the Commons, was struggling with a seemingly permanent economic crisis and the trade unions were a power in the land. In later years Scott resignedly recalled the long evenings at National Economic Development Council dinners with "the same bloody menu and some union leaders getting pissed".

Healey appreciated his ability to hold his own with Treasury officials without losing their confidence. With Labour in opposition after the 1979 election, Scott continued to provide informal economic advice to Callaghan, while he was leader, until 1981, but fed up with Labour's drift to the left he joined the ranks of disillusioned Labour centre-right figures who helped form the SDP in 1981.

He fought Swindon for the SDP in 1983, achieving a respectable third place, and his intervention probably lost Labour the seat. He tried again in 1987 but had no success. Having rejoined Labour, and now working for Blair, he was tempted to try for the safe Labour seat of Pontefract for the 1997 general election. The Blair connection proved a mixed blessing and the nomination went to Yvette Cooper, a journalist on The Independent.

As the newly elected Labour leader in 1994 Tony Blair needed advice on economic matters, but attempts to recruit Gavyn Davies from his lucrative post at Goldman Sachs proved fruitless. Scott's City contacts and renewed Labour sympathies made him a natural choice to help Blair in a part-time capacity. He helped to draft Blair's speeches, largely wrote Blair's Mais Lecture in 1997, and advised on the reactions of the City and industry. By 1997 he was happy with Labour's economic policy, describing it privately as "almost pure SDP".

His position as Blair's economic adviser in No 10 promised more than it delivered, however, through no fault of his. Blair had effectively delegated economic policy and much social policy to Gordon Brown, and Scott was a casualty of the continuous turf battles between Nos 10 and 11. In the first years Brown was reluctant to consult even his own Treasury officials, let alone No 10. Scott was denied key papers and Brown often insisted on one-to-one meetings with Blair. Difficult negotiations over the government's policy on the single European currency were brokered by Ed Balls, the Chancellor's chief economic adviser, and Jeremy Heywood, Blair's private secretary; Scott was out of the loop.

An irony was that he shared Brown's opposition to euro entry. Blair balanced Scott's opposition to entry with support for entry from Roger Liddle, his foreign affairs adviser and another former SDP man. In his memoir Blair paid tribute to Scott's tough-minded and acerbic views on economic questions but, referring to his rows with the Treasury, added that he had "the diplomatic skills of Dirty Harry".

An increasingly marginalised Scott left No 10 in 2003 for the City, and the following year he published his book Off Whitehall, which created a stir because it was a first-hand account of the rows between Brown and Blair and highlighted the former's "destructive and deceitful behaviour" and character failings. The publicity distracted from the main purpose of the book, the folly of Britain joining the euro – a view close to Brown's. Although both the Blair and Brown camps dismissed the accounts of their relationship as tittle-tattle, subsequent accounts supported Scott.

Scott was a busy figure in City economic life. He had been chief economist at Shell UK, Director of European Economics at BZW and an advisor at PCW. He was still an advisor to Europe Economics and visiting professor at the Cass Business School. Only a few months before his death (stomach cancer was diagnosed in December 2011) he chaired the £250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize Committee on how member states could exit the eurozone relatively smoothly, and carried on with his writing and speaking engagements.

He opposed further moves to EU integration, chaired a cross-party campaign to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and was a leading figure in the Eurosceptic Open Europe group. By the time of death, aged 65, many of his warnings about the eurozone seemed prescient.

Scott won respect for his firm and clearly expressed views and had many friends across politics, the City and the media. Between 1985 and the mid-1990s he was married to Elinor Goodman, the political editor of Channel 4 News. They were divorced in 2007, by which time he had been in a long-term relationship with Gisela Stuart, the Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston. They were married in 2010. Stuart's experience in drawing up a draft EU constitution converted her from a broadly Europhile outlook to the more sceptical one of her husband.

Derek John Scott, politician, economist and political and economic adviser: born 17 January 1947; married 1985 Elinor Goodman (divorced 2007), 2010 Gisela Stuart; died 1 August 2012.

News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal