UofG lecture to reflect on the legacy of Scotland’s first First Minister

A former First Minister of Scotland has questioned whether Scotland has made enough progress towards social justice since the death of Donald Dewar 20 years ago.

Paying tribute to Mr Dewar, the first leader of Scotland’s devolved government who died in October 2000, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, said: “The death of Donald Dewar 20 years ago left a huge hole in public life in Scotland but he also left behind the enduring legacy of an elected Scottish Parliament making autonomous decisions on behalf of the people of Scotland.

“Twenty years on, we should reflect on the way in which Scottish democracy works today and consider if we have made enough progress towards the social justice that was his passion.”

Lord McConnell who served as Finance Minister in Mr Dewar’s first cabinet in 1999, will reflect on the late First Minister’s legacy when he gives this year’s University of Glasgow Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture on Thursday 8 October 2020.

His lecture will seek to reflect upon the institutions, procedures and powers that Mr Dewar fought to establish within the newly created Scottish Parliament in 1999 and investigate to what extent these systems of transparency, trust and representation have been upheld to today.

The lecture will also seek to assess the legacy of Mr Dewar, how the decisions he took in the Scottish Parliament’s infancy have played out to the present, and what they may hold for the future.

Mr Dewar steered the 1998 Scotland Act onto the statute book and became Scotland's first First Minister following the elections to the new Scottish Parliament in 1999. Lord McConnell served as First Minister of Scotland between 2001 and 2007.

Mr Dewar was an alumnus of the University of Glasgow. Following Mr Dewar’s death, the University set up the Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture to commemorate him.



The Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture

The Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture is organised by the Stevenson Trust for Citizenship at the University. This year the lecture and Q&A by Lord McConnell will held live online on the Zoom platform. To attend please register in advance via the Eventbrite link Please note, this lecture will be recorded using Zoom.

Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell - Biography

Lord Jack McConnell was First Minister of Scotland from 2001 to 2007. He served as UK Special Representative for Peacebuilding from 2008 to 2010, when he was appointed to the House of Lords.

Lord McConnell is currently Co-Chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development; Vice President of UNICEF UK; and Chair of the McConnell International Foundation. He is Deputy Chair of the UK/Japan 21st Century Group, Chancellor of the University of Stirling, and Chair of the Sustainable Development Panel of Scottish and Southern Energy. Jack is a global adviser to PwC, and has advised in the implementation of peace agreements including the Bangsamoro Agreement in the Philippines.

He serves as Ambassador or Patron for a number of development and children’s charities, and Chairs the Peace Direct Awards and Scotland’s Champions. Jack has a keen interest in sport, serving as Chair of the Commonwealth Games (Scotland) Endowment Fund and as Honorary President of Scottish Athletics.

From 1999 to 2011, Jack McConnell was a Member of the Scottish Parliament. He was Scotland’s Minister for Finance 1999-2000; Minister for Education, Europe and External Affairs 2000-2001, and President of the Legislative Regions of Europe in 2004. He grew up on a small sheep farm on the Isle of Arran, Scotland and was a high school Mathematics teacher before entering Parliament.

Donald Dewar

Donald Dewar (1937-2000) was Scotland's first First Minister and is generally recognised as the architect of Devolution. He studied History at the University of Glasgow, graduating MA with Honours in 1961, and then studied Law, graduating LLB in 1964. Dewar was an outspoken advocate of political devolution for Scotland within the United Kingdom. He steered the 1998 Scotland Act on to the statute book and became Scotland's first First Minister following the elections to the new Scottish Parliament in 1999.
In 2000, he suffered heart problems and he died after a fall on 11 October.


First published: 6 October 2020

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