He was born in a Lanarkshire pit village where his father was a postman and his mother a factory worker, yet he rose through the ranks of local politics to become a Cabinet minister.
But John Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, who has long been considered the "authentic son of Glasgow's Labour heartland", has now been accusedof being an elite member of the Scottish Raj.
Jeremy Paxman, the Newsnight anchorman, who clashed with Mr Reid last week, compared the prominent position of Scottish politicians in Westminster to imperial Britain'srulers in India.
His remarks came after an on-screen argument whenPaxman introduced Mr Reid as an "all-purpose attack dog for the Government".
Mr Reidaccused Paxman of being patronising because of his Scottish accent.
Paxman looked bewildered as Mr Reid said: "If you have a PhD and a posh accent from a school like yours, you are regarded as a sophisticate. You called me an attack dog because I've got a Glasgow accent."
The war of words spilled out of the studio when Mr Reid's camp branded Paxman a "west London wanker", after the Newsnight confrontation.
Yesterday, Paxman said in an interview with The Sunday Times that he could not understand why some Scots had a "chip on their shoulder", when they exerted considerable influence in Westminster. "Down here we live under a sort of Scottish Raj. I don't see why there is any reason for them to feel chippy.
"Do we complain about it? No we don't. I think it's absurd. I don't understand wherein lies this angst. I yield to none in my admiration for [John Reid's] knowledge and for his strength of character on all sorts of issues so I have no idea why he went so doolally," said Paxman.
The BBC said it was not responsible for Paxman's comments and that he was "giving his own personal remarks".
While Mr Reid is thought to have enjoyed his encounters with the media, he is believed to have been wary, saying privately of Paxman and the Newsnight team that "one day they're going to catch me out".
Although Paxman was brought up in Leeds and Worcestershire, not west London, he had a privileged education at Malvern College, in Worcestershire, and Cambridge University. He began his career as a journalist covering Northern Ireland and became the frontman for Newsnight in 1989.
He lives in Oxfordshire, but has been noted for his presence on the west London social and literary scene.
With the BBC Today programme's John Humphrys, he is known as the attack dog of news presenting for his aggressive style, which has left a number of politicians flustered.
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Gordon Brown v Ruth Kelly
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ARTS AND BUSINESS
Hamish McAlpine v Richard Curtis
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Scots: J K Rowling, multimillionaire novelist
West Londoners: Charles Saatchi, advertising and art guru; Richard Branson, Virgin chiefReuse content