Donald Dewar, 63, dies after fall in street

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The political world was shaken yesterday by the death of Donald Dewar, Scotland's First Minister, who died aged 63, the day after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

The political world was shaken yesterday by the death of Donald Dewar, Scotland's First Minister, who died aged 63, the day after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

The Queen and Tony Blair led tributes to the man dubbed "the Father of the Nation" for securing Scotland's first Parliament for 300 years, while the Labour Party relived the grief it suffered in 1994 on the death of John Smith, a close friend and political soulmate of Mr Dewar.

Henry McLeish, Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning in the Scottish executive, emerged last night as the front-runner to succeed Mr Dewar. He was regarded as his deputy in the Edinburgh Parliament's Labour group, although never elected formally.

Some senior Labour figures hope that Mr McLeish, an ally of Mr Blair, will be chosen by the Scottish Labour Party without an election. But he may face a challenge from Jack McConnell, the Minister for Finance; Susan Deacon, Minister for Health, or Wendy Alexander, Minister for Communities.

Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, who had been seen as a possible First Minister in the longer term, yesterday ruled himself out of the running to succeed Mr Dewar.

Under the law, a new First Minister must be elected within 28 days. In the meantime, the job will be filled by Jim Wallace, the Deputy First Minister, who is a Liberal Democrat.

Mr Dewar was admitted to Edinburgh's Western General Hospital on Tuesday eveningafter a fall at lunchtime. He soon deteriorated and scans showed internal bleeding in his brain.

Mr Dewar was pronounced dead just after midday yesterday. After consulting surgeons, his children Marion, 35, and Ian, 33, gave permission for the life support machine keeping him alive to be switched off.

James Steers, a consultant neurosurgeon, who treated the First Minister, said there was "no evidence of a direct injury to the head" following Mr Dewar's fall. "Sadly by the time he arrived at the Western General Hospital there was evidence of irretrievable brain damage."

An emotional Mr Blair described Mr Dewar as "as strong and supportive as any friend could be". The Prime Minister added: "Scotland has lost its leader and its guiding hand. It has lost a great man, too."

Comments