William (Willie) Ross

(Lord Ross of Marnock)

1911 - 1988

Labour politician and longest serving Secretary of State for Scotland. Born in Ayr, the son of a train driver, Ross was educated at Ayr Academy and the University of Glasgow. He became a school-teacher, but was elected as Member of Parliament for Kilmarnock in 1946. Ross was regarded as a formidable politician and went on to represent this seat until 1979.

He held the office of Secretary of State for Scotland between 1964-70 and again from 1974 to 1976. Ross was a staunch unionist, resisting calls for Scottish devolution. He disliked the Scottish National Party, dismissing them as the 'Tartan Tories'.

Ross was perhaps harshly summed up by a political commentator who described him as 'a stern-faced and authoritarian Presbyterian conservative, who ran the country like a personal fiefdom for Harold Wilson'.

Following his retiral in 1979, Ross was elevated to the peerage as Lord Ross of Marnock.

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