SCOTTISH Labour stalwart Hugh Henry has returned to frontline politics after being appointed as the party’s new education spokesman.
The Renfrewshire South MSP has been given the job as part of new Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s Shadow Cabinet team.
Mr Henry, who has been a Renfrewshire politician for several years and is a former teacher, said he was delighted to accept the role.
He told the Paisley Daily Express: “I got the call on Saturday night and I’m pleased to be back in frontline politics.
“I realise that those of us who’ve been about for a while have got a responsibility to put our shoulders to the wheel. It’s a huge task in front of Scottish Labour and I don’t underestimate the difficulties that lie ahead.
“I’m pleased to be involved with education because it’s something I’ve had a long-standing involvement with.
“I realise it’s a challenging brief and I know that there are a couple of immediate issues that need to be addressed.
“These are the funding crisis in further education colleges and falling morale in the teaching profession, which is disappointing given the previous efforts Labour made to improve matters.”
The new appointment is not Mr Henry’s first job in frontline politics.
After being elected to the Scottish Parliament for the former Paisley South seat in 1999, he was appointed Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care in the Scottish Executive in 2001 and then became Deputy Minister for Justice in 2003.
He was Minister for Education in 2006 and was Shadow Education Minister for a short time after Labour’s defeat in the 2007 election.
Earlier this year, Mr Henry stood in the election for presiding officer at the Scottish Parliament but came second to the SNP’s Tricia Marwick.
Mr Henry, who is married with two daughters and one son, was raised in Erskine and educated at St Mirin’s Academy in Paisley, at the University of Glasgow and at Jordanhill College of Education in Glasgow.
He previously worked as an accountant with IBM UK Ltd, as a teacher and as a welfare rights officer with Strathclyde Regional Council.
He was a councillor in Renfrewshire from 1984 until 1999, including four years as leader.
Renfrewshire councillor Neil Bibby is also part of Labour’s new team after being appointed Shadow Minister for Children and Young People.
Mr Bibby was elected to the Scottish Parliament in May’s election and this is his first frontline role.