Scots of the
last 60 years
Following the publication of the BBC's list of the 60 most influential figures of the queen's reign – a list which included only three Scots, Alex Salmond, Fred Goodwin and Billy Connelly – we asked readers for their own nominations. Here is a further selection:
'Most influence' suggests more than quality of thought and action; it demands a widespread quantum of influence in which the 'great person' has touched many. My three (one was saved) begins with Alex Ferguson, who created at Manchester United a system of excellence in football that the world has recognised and indeed emulated. At a time in which the game has become a global phenomenon, Alex Ferguson can be declared the master influence on the beautiful game.
It is impossible to leave out two men who held the only political office that maximises influence across the UK and beyond – prime minister. Tony Blair's influence (malevolent and benevolent) has been extraordinary globally as well as significant in changing the course of British political life. In the case of Gordon Brown, he also had a major influence globally in the financial crisis of 2008. Any Scot who becomes prime minister of the UK must be in a list of influentials by the very nature of the post.
If I were to be permitted to include Anglo-Scots (born in England from a Scottish parent) I would select two who made significant impact globally.
In the fickle transient world of theatre one person has changed fundamentally the concept of staged entertainment and that is Cameron Mackintosh, 'the most successful, influential and powerful theatrical producer in the world', said the New York Times. (His father was a Scottish jazz trumpet player).
Musical theatre was a Broadway froth of feathers and fantasy; then Mackintosh came on the scene and brought art and ideas into the genre and transformed musical theatre into a wonderful global dramatic experience that made money and magic around the world.
Another Anglo-Scot whose father was a Gaelic speaker from Argyll was the Fettes-educated David Mackenzie Ogilvy, who influenced the entire world of 20th-century commerce in his role as a creative director. No one made the post-war world of image, message and marketing into 'advertainment' and attractive message creation like Ogilvy. He single-handedly took on the ad business and made it his with spectacular success, again around the world.
Two more whose influence was substantial but on a smaller Scottish stage are Margo MacDonald and Neil MacCormick. Margo MacDonald broke the entrenched SNP image as 'Tartan Tories' and brought the SNP into the world of working-class Scotland: an enormously powerful, politically influential act. It is an influence that the SNP has not yet taken on board in any significant way. Neil MacCormick brought intellectual clarity and rigour to what was a romantic idea and can be called the architect-philosopher of the new empowered SNP. There would be no Alex Salmond and the current constitutional debate without the clarity of vision and quality of thought brought to nationalism by Neil MacCormick.
I would choose two trades union figures who helped change Scotland: Mick McGahey, Scottish miners' president, who moved the resolution at the STUC in the late 60s which put devolution back on the mainstream agenda of the labour movement. And Jimmy Milne, STUC general secretary until 1986, who did more than anyone knows to keep the case for a Scottish parliament alive during the dark years after 1979. He was a most self-effacing man, which is why history has so neglected him.
Doug Harrison (STUC assistant secretary 1976-2000)
It is with interest that I read Kenneth Roy's article (12 June) regarding the most influential Scots. What surprised me most was his opinion that Donald Dewar was perhaps deserved of inclusion due to his 'Father of the Nation' status in overseeing the devolution project. As I understood it, Donald Dewar approached devolution in much the same way as the Labour Party did in taking office in 1997; with a grudging acceptance that it had to be done in order not to jeopardise UK membership of the Council of Europe, a requirement for such things as inclusion in the European Union. The UK found itself in this position due to a process which was originally initiated by the Scotland-UN Committee in response to the manipulation of the Scottish referendum of 1979. If Donald Dewar's place in a list of Scotland's influential figures is not to be overlooked let us ensure that his contribution to devolution is not viewed with a misplaced fondness.
I would include Sir Ian McCartney, a former MP and cabinet minister who introduced the national minimum wage, a piece of vitally important life-changing legislation, the effects of which were and still are felt by the many low-paid workers that he said he was representing when putting together the framework for the NMW.
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