John MacDougall: Labour MP for Glenrothes

Heavyweights of local councils, especially those who have led successful and well-regarded administrations, can come to the House of Commons and feel very disappointed. In 2001, having been a huge fish in a relatively small pool, John MacDougall found himself a small fish, and perhaps a fish out of water, in the pool of Labour backbenchers of the House of Commons. On our plane journeys back to Scotland on a Thursday night, when we often sat next to each other, he would tell me that he thought it was a great mistake ever to have come to London.

The circumstances of his election were that with the establishment of the Holyrood Parliament in Edinburgh, the MP for Fife Central, Henry McLeish, had become the Deputy First Minister (and was soon to be the First Minister on Donald Dewar's death in 2000). It was perceived by the Labour Party that there was a good deal of ill-feeling in Fife and that they had better have a popular person as a local candidate and take nothing for granted.

As a man of many friends, MacDougall was elected, very much with the blessing of his parliamentary neighbour Gordon Brown. He was re-elected in 2005 to the new Glenrothes constituency, which took in most of his old seat. It was a tribute to MacDougall's loyalty that earlier this year, even after months of absence from the House, with debilitating cancer, he volunteered himself to be dragged to London for the vote on 42 days, in order to support the Prime Minister.

John MacDougall never hid that he had gone to a secondary modern school, Templehall in Kirkcaldy, and owed his education to the excellent technical training that Rosyth Naval Dockyard gave to its apprentices. Joining the Fife County Council in 1982 after a period as an engineer in the dockyard and then in the mines, he provided himself with good judgements on questions relating to the economic development of Fife and the training of young people.

Helen Eadie, MSP, who was Vice-Convenor of Fife when MacDougall was Convenor, told me of the "warmth and affection in which Macdougall, a man of traditional left-wing principles and a delicate sense of humour, was held." She says he was "a passionate pro-European who did Fife proud during his time as Vice-President of the Assembly of European Regions".

Few MPs took such a detailed and commendable interest in the work of the Child Support Agency. In one of his few speeches in the chamber of the House of Commons, on Scottish MPs' voting rights, MacDougall concluded: "We should consider that a way to bring balance to the situation is to give English MPs the opportunity to decide whether they want the same decision-making rights in this house that every other member has. If colleagues want to set up an English Grand Committee, just as there is a Scottish Grand Committee, to review such matters, that should be considered."

MacDougall saw the efforts of Conservative MPs such as James Gray, who initiated a debate in 2004 on Scottish MPs' voting rights, as "a bit of mischief", which would cause many more problems than they would resolve.

MacDougall was one of the few MPs to have taken the trouble to visit the British overseas territory of St Helena in the South Atlantic, and became a champion of facilities for the islanders. He also interested himself in relations with Iran and did so in an unobtrusive, sensible way by using the parallel chamber of Westminster Hall, which was more to his taste and more like the council chambers in Fife where he had excelled.

Tam Dalyell

John William MacDougall, engineer and politician: born Dunfermline, Fife 8 December 1947; Member, Fife Regional Council 1982-95, Fife Council 1995-2001, Leader of the Administration 1987-96, Convenor 1996-2001; MP (Labour) for Central Fife 2001-05, for Glenrothes 2005-08; married (one son, one daughter); died Kirkcaldy, Fife 13 August 2008.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss