Former Labour MSP Tom McCabe dies aged 60

Former Scottish Labour party MSP Tom McCabe. Picture: PA
Former Scottish Labour party MSP Tom McCabe. Picture: PA
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TOM McCabe, the architect of Scotland’s smoking ban, has died after a battle with cancer.

The former Holyrood health and finance minister was just 60 when he died at home, after being diagnosed last year.

Tom McCabe was a good man. He was a dedicated servant of the Labour movement, and was a radical Finance Minister in the last Scottish Labour Government.

Jim Murphy

Tributes were paid yesterday from across the political spectrum to the Labour politician who represented the Hamilton South constituency between 1999 and 2011.

He was a key figure in the early years of devolution and served in the cabinets of three First Ministers – Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell.

Lord McConnell said Mr McCabe had been “a major influence on local and national politics in modern Scotland”.

He went on: “He was the one who persuaded me to push ahead with the smoking ban and the minister who did the roadshows around the country to promote it.

“From modernising local services as a council leader to steering the new parliament through difficult early years, his judgment and commitment were obvious to all who knew him.

“From the smoking ban to parliamentary standards, Tom’s legacy is considerable. He will be missed by family, friends and by Scotland.”

Mr McCabe’s became Scotland’s first ever MSP when his constituency declared just over an hour after the polls closed at the historic 1999 Scottish Parliament election.

During his time at Holyrood, he also had spells as minister for parliamentary business and deputy minister for health and community care, but he lost his seat as the SNP swept to power in 2011.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said Mr McCabe would be “hugely missed”.

“The thoughts and prayers of everybody in the Scottish 
Labour movement are with Tom McCabe’s family today,” Mr Murphy said.

“That he has died at such a relatively young age and with so much still to give makes it harder to understand and accept.

“Tom McCabe was a good man. He was a dedicated servant of the Labour movement, and was a radical finance minister in the last Scottish Labour government.

“I always enjoyed Tom’s company – except on the golf course, where I could never beat him.

“The dignity he showed in his final few months should act as an inspiration to us all.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Tom McCabe’s death. Tom had an impressive record of public service as an MSP and as a minister in the first post-devolution administration.

“He was someone who was widely liked across the political divide and will be remembered as such across Scottish politics. My thoughts are with his wife and family.”

The Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, said: “He was devoted to his family, in particular to his wee daughter Ava. His joy when she was born and his delight in watching her grow was apparent to all around him.

“Tom made an immense contribution to the parliament.”