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John Jackson Mackay


(Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish)

1938 - 2001

Politician. Born in Lochgilphead, the son of a policeman, Mackay was educated at Dunoon and Campbeltown Grammar Schools and the University of Glasgow. He became a maths teacher in Oban, before being elected to the Town Council (1969) and as the Member of Parliament for Argyll (1979).

Mackay was a successful and dynamic member of the Scottish Office team, holding portfolios in agriculture, education and health between 1982 and 1987. Thought likely to take the top job in the Scottish Office, this proved elusive when he lost his parliamentary seat as Scotland rejected Conservative policies.

Mackay's politics put him on the right-wing of his party, with particularly strong views on moral issues. However, when ultra-Thatcherite Michael Forsyth (b.1954) was brought in to shake up the Scottish Conservative Party, Mackay's position as its head became untenable and he resigned (1990).

Mackay was awarded a peerage in 1991. He became an active member of the House of Lords, taking on transport and social security ministerial posts before becoming Deputy Leader of his party in the Lords (1998 - 2001). Mackay was liked even by his political opponents and this support led to his joining the independent cross benches as the Lords Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker of the Lords, one of the most senior positions in the House.

Renowned for his capacity for hard-work, Mackay died as the result of a heart-attack following a late-night sitting of the House.


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