The team behind the labour leader – who hope soon to be behind the First Minister

The leader: Colourful past Iain Gray was elected leader of the Scottish Labour Party in September 2008 following the departure of Wendy Alexander. He served as enterprise minister in Labour's first Scottish administration. He lost his seat in 2003. While out of parliament, he spent four years as a special adviser to Alistair Darling when he was Scottish secretary.

He returned to Holyrood as Labour MSP for East Lothian in 2007. Despite his reputation for being "Gray by name and grey by nature", his pre-politics career path is more colourful than most.

He studied physics at Edinburgh University before teaching maths and physics at Gracemount High School in Edinburgh, and then went on to teach in an agricultural technical school in Mozambique during the civil war there.

Gray then joined Oxfam as Scottish campaigns director. Over the next 12 years his work took him to the minefields of Cambodia and villages in Zimbabwe decimated by HIV/Aids.

The writer: 'A brilliant mind'

Michael Marra – nephew of his namesake, the Dundonian singer/songwriter – is probably responsible for any artistic touches that may find their way into Iain Gray's speeches.

As one of the Labour leader's main speech writers, Marra is highly regarded. Party strategists admire his "brilliant mind" saying his grasp of policy is "incredibly impressive". "He's up there with anybody in London," one senior Labour figure said.

Educated at St John's High School in Dundee and Glasgow University. He stood for Holyrood in Tayside North in 2007. He has worked in marketing for Dundee University and is currently Oxfam Scotland policy officer.

His sister Jenny Marra is standing on the North East regional list. Like her brother, she is one of Labour's brightest, and in her youth won a scholarship to Emory University in Atlanta, in the United States.

The campaign boss: 'Brightest'

Campaign co-ordinator John Park is regarded as one of the brightest Labour MSPs, representing Mid Scotland and Fife. As campaign co-ordinator, he draws on years of experience as a trade unionist and a member of Unite the Union since he began working in 1989.

His family background is in the coalfields of Fife. He left school at 15 and worked as an electrical fitter in Rosyth Dockyard before taking up a full-time position with the Amalgamated Engineering Electrical Union in London.

In Rosyth, he was active in the dockyard's influential trade unions during the Trident refitting campaign in the early 1990s. After becoming a shop steward he was elected the dockyard's youngest-ever full-time union convener in 1998.

Just before entering parliament he was assistant secretary at the Scottish Trades Union Congress.In the last parliament he was shadow secretary for the economy and skills.

The strategist: Saw off SNP

Key stratagist Tom Greatrex, MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, is regarded as a dynamic young politician who was behind Labour's strategy that saw off the SNP in last year's general election.

The 36-year-old's political life began as a researcher to Donald Dewar before the 1997 general election, remaining in the role after Nick Brown took over from Mr Dewar as chief whip and later moving with him to the Ministry of Agriculture. He left this role in 1999 to work as a GMB union official for five years. He first moved to Scotland in 2004, as a chief officer at East Dunbartonshire Council, then worked as director of corporate affairs for NHS 24 between 2006 and 2007. As a special adviser in the Scotland Office, he worked for three Scottish secretaries – Douglas Alexander, Des Browne and Jim Murphy – before he entered parliament last year. Born in Ashford, Kent, he studied at the London School of Economics. He is currently a shadow Scotland Office minister.

The press guru: Well-liked

Kenny Young, who works in the Scottish Labour press office, is employed by the Labour Party and normally works as a press adviser for leader Ed Miliband. Originally from Dalkeith, he stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in the 2007 Scottish election.

He is a friend of Rami Okasha, Scottish Labour's head of communications and strategy. He also worked for Gordon Brown and was with the former PM when he was caught calling a pensioner "bigoted", with his microphone on.

He was also famously pictured as one of two Labour aides appearing to kneel before Mr Brown while he held a door open for the then prime minister. The photograph was seen by Labour's opponents as the perfect illustration of Mr Brown's aloofness.

That incident earned him the nickname Calamity Kenny in the blogsphere. However, within Labour he is well-liked and regarded as a shrewd operator.

The spokesman: Fellow Hibs fan

Simon Pia became Iain Gray's spokesman after a varied journalistic career that involved sport, humorous writing and a spell as The Scotsman's diarist – a job that made him a familiar face on the party circuit.

He helps Mr Gray prepare for First Minister's Questions and debates. He also helps write his speeches. A popular figure at Holyrood, he has also worked as a host on Talk 107 Radio, a job that ended when he made way for Dominik Diamond. He was originally recruited by Labour to advise Wendy Alexander on media matters, and got that job despite referring to her occasionally as "Gruppenfhrer" in his column – a term that referred to her supposedly brusque manner.

He survived her departure to work for his new boss, Mr Gray, with whom he shares a love of Hibernian Football Club.

Such is his love of Hibs that he wrote Sunshine on Leith – Hibernian's Finest Sons and Pat Stanton – The Quiet Man, a biography of the Easter Road hero.