Mike Watson, Baron Watson of Invergowrie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Lord Watson of Invergowrie
Official portrait of Lord Watson of Invergowrie crop 2.jpg
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Glasgow Cathcart
In office
6 May 1999 – 22 September 2005
Preceded byParliament created
Succeeded byCharlie Gordon
Member of Parliament
for Glasgow Central
In office
15 June 1989 – 1 May 1997
Preceded byBob McTaggart
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1949-05-01) 1 May 1949 (age 70)
Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire
Political partyScottish Labour Party
Alma materHeriot-Watt University

Michael Goodall Watson, Baron Watson of Invergowrie (born 1 May 1949), is a British Labour Party politician. He has served in three legislatures in the United Kingdom and served as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in the Scottish Executive Cabinet.

Watson was expelled from his party on 22 September 2005 following his conviction and imprisonment for fire-raising at Prestonfield House, but was re-admitted to the Labour party in July 2012.[1] He currently sits as a Labour member of the House of Lords[2] and is an Associate Director of the Edinburgh public affairs and communications company Caledonia Consulting.

On 18 September 2015 the new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed Watson as education spokesman in the House of Lords.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Watson was born in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, but his family moved to Invergowrie, Perth and Kinross when he was very young. He was educated at Invergowrie Primary School, the High School of Dundee and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, graduating with a B.A. Hons in Economics and Industrial Relations in 1974.

Prior to entering politics Watson worked as a tutor/organiser for the Workers' Educational Association and in the trade union movement, for the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) and the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union (MSF).

Political career[edit]

Watson was elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as Member of Parliament (MP) for Glasgow Central at a by-election in 1989, following the death of Bob McTaggart MP. He was re-elected in the 1992 election and represented that constituency until it was abolished in 1997. He sought the nomination from the Labour party to run for the Govan seat at the 1997 election, but after initially winning the nomination by one vote, he lost a re-run to Mohammad Sarwar.

In 1997, he received a Life peerage as Baron Watson of Invergowrie, of Invergowrie in Perth and Kinross.[5]

In 1999 Lord Watson was elected to the Scottish Parliament to represent the Glasgow Cathcart constituency and was re-elected in 2003. On 20 July 1999 Watson announced his intention to introduce the Protection of Wild Mammals bill as a member's bill to the Scottish Parliament to outlaw fox hunting. The bill passed a vote 83–36 on 13 February 2002[6] and received Royal Assent on 15 March, becoming the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 and becoming law on 1 August. This was a precursor to the Hunting Act 2004 banning fox hunting in England and Wales.[citation needed]

When Jack McConnell became First Minister in 2001, Watson entered the Scottish Executive as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport. He left the Executive in 2003, having lost his position in a reshuffle after the 2003 election.[7] He subsequently became deputy convener of the enterprise and culture committee.[7]

On 15 November 2004, Watson was charged with wilful fire raising, and the Labour whip was withdrawn from him in the Holyrood and Westminster parliaments.[7] On 1 September 2005 he admitted the offence and resigned from the Scottish Parliament.[8] Watson was also expelled from the Labour Party when the sentence was announced.[9] After serving a prison sentence he was released in May 2006.

In January 2007 Watson was appointed as an Associate Director with Caledonia Consulting, while also attending the House of Lords on a regular basis.[citation needed] Watson was re-admitted to membership of the Labour Party in July 2012, after a vote of the National Executive Committee.[1] In September 2015, Jeremy Corbyn appointed Watson as the Labour spokesman on education in the Lords.[3]

Fire-raising conviction[edit]

On 15 November 2004, Lord Watson was charged with two counts of "wilful fire raising" after a private reception at Edinburgh's Prestonfield Hotel following the Scottish Politician of the Year awards on 11 November.[10] The first alleged that he set fire to a curtain in the hotel's reception, and the second that he set fire to a curtain in the hotel's Yellow Room. On being charged, the Labour whip was suspended in the Holyrood and Westminster parliaments.[7]

After initially registering not guilty pleas to both charges on 23 August 2005,[7] he changed his plea on 1 September to guilty on the first count, and had a not guilty plea accepted on the second charge.[8]

On the same day that Lord Watson admitted his guilt, he resigned from the Scottish Parliament. He resigned as a director of Dundee United Football Club.[8] It was not possible for a life peer to resign from the House of Lords at that time and there was no provision for peers convicted of criminal offences to be stripped of their titles. Such legislation was last proposed following the conviction of Jeffrey Archer for perjury in 2001, but rejected.[citation needed]

On 22 September 2005, Lord Watson was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment.[9] Sheriff Kathrine Mackie justified the sentence, stating that there was both "a significant risk of re-offending" and that Lord Watson offered no explanation. She also told Lord Watson that consumption of alcohol "neither excuses nor fully explains your behaviour". The sentence was reduced from 20 months to 16 because Watson had pleaded guilty before the case reached trial.[9] Watson appealed against his sentence on 23 March 2006 but the appeal judges refused to cut the term, and he was returned to prison. After serving half of his sentence (eight months), he was released on 23 May 2006.[11]

Views on Jeremy Corbyn[edit]

In an interview with The House magazine in March 2017, Lord Watson was asked whether Labour could win a UK general election under Jeremy Corbyn. He said: "Probably not. There are trends there that suggest we're not getting through and the result in Copeland certainly suggested that, so it will be difficult to turn that around. But we shouldn't underestimate the extent to which the government can get into difficulties over the European Union exit negotiations. It's not going to be anything approaching plain sailing for them." [12]


  1. ^ a b "Labour blasted after firebug peer Mike Watson is welcomed back into party seven years after hotel blaze". Daily Record. Trinity Mirror. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Lord Watson of Invergowrie". www.parliament.uk. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b Fraser Nelson, Jeremy Corbyn appoints convicted arsonist Mike Watson as his education spokesman at spectator.co.uk dated 18 September 2015
  4. ^ Michael Settle, Jeremy Corbyn appoints disgraced peer Lord Mike Watson to Labour frontbench dated 18 September 2015 at heraldscotland.com
  5. ^ "Watson of Invergowrie, Baron, (Michael Goodall Watson) (born 1 May 1949) | WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO". www.ukwhoswho.com. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u39024. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Watson's pride over hunting ban". BBC News. BBC. 15 February 2002. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e "MSP denies fire-raising charges". BBC News. BBC. 23 August 2005. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Peer pleads guilty to fire charge". BBC News. BBC. 1 September 2005. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  9. ^ a b c "Fire-raising peer sent to prison". BBC News. BBC.co.uk. 22 September 2005. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  10. ^ "MSP bailed on fireraising charges". BBC News. BBC. 30 November 2004. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  11. ^ Lydall, Ross (5 February 2009). "Fire-raiser Lord Watson told to do the honourable thing". The Scotsman. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  12. ^ https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/jeremy-corbyn/news/84077/excl-labour-frontbencher-we-would


  • Watson, Mike (1985). Rags to Riches: The official history of Dundee United. David Winter & Sons, Dundee ISBN 978-0-902804-18-0
  • Watson, Mike (1992). Rags to Riches (updated version). David Winter & Sons, Dundee ISBN 978-0-902804-18-0
  • Watson, Mike (1997). The Tannadice Encyclopedia. Mainstream, Edinburgh ISBN 1-85158-996-1
  • Watson, Mike (2001). Year Zero: An Inside View of the Scottish Parliament. Polygon at Edinburgh. ISBN 1-902930-26-6.
  • Watson, Mike and Rundo, Peter (2009). Dundee United: The Official Centenary History. Birlinn, Edinburgh. ISBN 978-1-84158-828-5

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bob McTaggart
Member of Parliament for Glasgow Central
Constituency abolished
Scottish Parliament
New constituency Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Cathcart
Succeeded by
Charlie Gordon
Political offices
Preceded by
Office Created
Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport
Succeeded by
Frank McAveety
Preceded by
Alasdair Morrison
Minister for Gaelic
Succeeded by
Peter Peacock