Monday, July 03, 2006

Donald Dewar

I've recently finished writing a book called 'The Scottish Secretaries'. If that weren't evidence enough of my obsessive personality, I've now started collecting memorabilia associated with former holders of that post. The latest addition was a rather expensive, but very nice, set of the Waverley novels previously owned by Donald Dewar. Inside one volume I found the following note from the late Gordon McMaster MP:

20 December 1990

Dear Donald,

This is a short & belated note to thank you for the role that you played in my by-election victory. It was substantial, and I will be eternally grateful for it.

You should never under-estimate the tremendous respect & affection that people have for you - I am sure you must have felt it on the streets of Paisley, Renfrew, Elderslie & Johnston during the campaign. People trust your judgement & sincerity - and, of course, they are right to do so. I will try to deserve the support that you have given me.

Best wishes for Xmas & Ne'erday.

Gordon McMaster

It's a touching note but all the more poignant because within a few months of the 1997 general election McMaster committed suicide. He left a note accusing two fellow Labour MPs of smearing him in a whispering campaign. Commenting at the time, Dewar described his death as a "tragedy" and said: "I came to respect his judgment and enjoyed his friendship over the years. He is a great loss to parliament and to the Labour Party in Scotland."


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