The Glasgow-born MP for Paisley and South Renfrewshire served as a minister in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown during a political career that has seen him characterised as one of Labour’s bright young things.
In 1999, he was at the heart of the “divorce is an expensive business” anti-independence campaign which helped defeat the SNP.
As a Brown acolyte, he has played a successful role in Labour campaigns north of the Border since then.
He currently sits on Labour’s front bench as shadow foreign secretary, despite having been one of David Miliband’s most high-profile backers in the Labour leadership battle that saw Ed Miliband narrowly defeat his brother.
A son of the manse, the 43-year-old married father of two began his career as a lawyer. He was working as a trainee solicitor when he also took on a role as researcher and speech writer to Mr Brown in the 1990s.
He entered parliament in 1997 when Labour inflicted a crushing defeat on John Major’s Conservatives. After Labour’s victory in 2001, he rose through the ranks of government and has served as Scottish secretary, international development secretary, transport secretary and Cabinet Office minister.
His sister is Wendy Alexander, the former Scottish Labour leader.