Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Labour MP Dies

The BBC is reporting that the Labour MP for Glenrothes, John Macdougall, has died after a protracted illness. Glenrothes is the neighbouring seat to Gordon Brown's Fife constituency, where Mr Macdougall had a majority of more than 10,000. A by-election will not take place until a writ can be moved in Parliament in October.*

Mr Macdougall had been suffering from lung cancer for a long time and was a popular MP on the Labour benches. Many condolences to his family.

*UPDATE: Apparently a writ can be moved in a pariamentary recess. It's only if an MP resigns when a by election write can only be moved if Pariament is sitting.


FonyBlair said...

Whilst wishing to pay my respects the bigger picture here is that there is yet another nail in Brown's coffin on it's way.

Maybe a combined memorial service would be in order!?

R.I.P. Brown

Anonymous said...


There is provision for a writ to be moved during recess. My guess is the by-election will take place on the day after Labour Conference ends.

Unknown said...

He died of mesothelioma, an extremely painful cancer of the lungs often caused by asbestos. Whilst I will look forward to the by-election, it is never a good thing that it has to be over the body of someone. My condolences and prayers are with the family.

When the by-election does come about, I suspect another SNP victory is in the offing?

Anonymous said...

Catherine Stihler MEP as possible Lab candidate?
Or will Dunfermiline and West Fife scare her off for ever?

Anonymous said...

for those of us who knew John across the political divide in Scotland he really was a nice man and very helpful to all his colleagues regardless of party

it is genuinely sad news and thoughts are with his family -- he was only 60

Anonymous said...

As a card-carrying SNP conservative (?!?!) living in the constituency, I’ll be hoping to play a small part in the downfall of this wretched government! The Labour candidate will probably be Alec Rowley, who can come across as old-time Labour in a ranting sort of way. However, the demographics of parts of Fife have changed enormously over the last decade, and towns like Dunfermline (lost to Lib Dems) and Kirkcaldy have extensive new housing estates which are commuter overspills from Edinburgh rather than old Labour former mining and industrial strongholds….people who are suffering over mortgages, food and fuel prices, travel costs etc., and who probably blindly voted Labour when economic times were better and the SNP were nowhere to be seen. A kicking is long overdue!!!

I had a letter from John MacDougall recently, he struck me as sort of low-key old-style constituency MP, not as popular as former near-neighbour Rachel Squire (who died a few years ago) but he’ll be missed a lot more than the remaining Labour MP in the area would be, the member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10.12 I think you are mistaken.

During recess the Speaker of the Commons has to make a warrant for the issue of a byelection writ. The Speaker cannot do this if an MP resigns, but, under the Recess Election Act 1975, he can do so if an MP dies.

According to Commons officials, this process cannot happen until at least 15 days after the MP's death. Following the issue of a writ, there has to be another gap of at least three weeks until the byelection takes place.

By parliamentary convention a byelection should take place within three months of a seat becoming vacant. But this is not a statutory requirement

Anonymous said...

Uh, Kathleen (2.10), so what your post actually says is that I was right (not mistaken)! There IS provision for a writ to be moved to hold a by-election during recess (including possibly during Conference season) - as the Guardian article you reference and the BBC story of the same ilk confirm.

Also, as someone who knew John MacDougall vaguely, I should say he was indeed a very nice man. Sadly, in politics by-election talk inevitably (though regrettably) always starts as soon as someone passes away.

Anonymous said...


Just to clarify, the Speaker may move authorise the moving of a writ during a recess for vacancies occurring due to death, disqualification because of bankruptcy, elevation to the Lords or the acceptance of disqualifying office.


Stephen Glenn said...

If I were Labour I'd make sure they have a candidate in place this time before calling a fast one. After all they lost 4 days over the first weekend with Glasgow East. In fact they may need to build their own momentum so we may be having a longer campaign this time more in line with Livingston's time scale for them to try and build up some momentum once the new leader of the MSPs is decided upon.

Hiraeth said...

I'm currently working on a study of a by-election in the Merthyr Boroughs almost exactly one hundred and twenty years ago, on the death of Henry Richard on 20 August 1888. What's so amazing is that the Parlimentary rules seem not to have changed in that time.

And that was an embarrassment for the party that held the seat, in spite of the MP having been a very popular man.

Anonymous said...

According to Al-beeb, Gordon (as the neighbouring MP) has to, by convention, take over the constituency work until a new MP is elected. Never rains but it pours.