Gavin Steel Strang (born 10 July 1943) is a Scottish politician who served in the House of Commons for nearly forty years, representing Edinburgh East for Labour. Strang served as a minister in the 1974–79 Government under Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, as well as in the Cabinet under Tony Blair. By the time of his retirement at the 2010 General Election, he was the longest serving Scottish MP.

Early life

He was a farmer's son and grew up in Perthshire. He went to Morrison's Academy in Crieff. At the University of Edinburgh, he gained a BSc in Genetics[1] in 1964. At Churchill College, Cambridge, he gained a Diploma in Agricultural Science (DipAgriSci). From the University of Edinburgh he gained a PhD in Agricultural Science. from 1966–68. He was a member of the Tayside Economic Planning Consultative Group.

He was a scientist at the Agricultural and Food Research Council and Animal Breeding Research Organisation in Edinburgh from 1968–70.

Parliamentary career

In 1970, Labour MP George Willis, who had represented Edinburgh East since 1954, retired. Strang won Labour's endorsement and was elected to Parliament. Although Edinburgh was a Conservative stronghold in the 1970s and 1980s, Strang's seat was a Labour safe seat. He was first elected in 1970, and was re elected in February 1974, October 1974, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005. From 1997 to 2005, his seat was named Edinburgh East & Musselburgh

Strang was a minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, serving as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy in 1974 and then at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food until 1979. In 1990, he was the last person to ask Margaret Thatcher a question at PMQ's, which he used to criticise her impact on communities and the poor during her time in office. He was Minister for Transport from May 1997, with a seat in the Cabinet, but was sacked in June 1998.

After becoming a backbencher, Strang was sometimes critical of government policy. He campaigned against the privatisation of National Air Traffic Services, and on 31 October 2006, was one of twelve Labour MPs to back Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party's call for an inquiry into the Iraq War.[2]

Strang was Chairman of the All-Party Group for World Government[3] and on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. In November 2007, he announced he would stand down at the next general election,[4] but later reversed the decision. On 27 June 2008, Strang again changed his mind, and announced that he would indeed stand down at the next general election.[5]

Personal life

He married Bettina in 1973. They have a son, and he has two step sons. His wife has been the chair of the arm of the advocacy organisation Europa Donna.[6]


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Willis
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East
Succeeded by
Sheila Gilmore
Political offices
New creation Minister of State for Transport
Succeeded by
John Reid