On the 26 October 2000, Henry McLeish succeeded Donald Dewar as First Minister of Scotland. His reign lasted little over a year, before he resigned on 8 November 2001. His crime was that he had been found to have been receiving rent payments from offices he was leasing during his time as a Westminster MP. However these offices were subsidised by the tax-payer, and this faint whiff of corruption led to McLeish being hounded by the Scottish media. He claimed that it was a honest mistake and undertook to repay the £36,000 he had received. This explanation was met with scepticism and McLeish elected to fall on his sword, and allow the Scottish Labour party a clean break to prepare for the next set of elections due in 2003.

Before entering politics McLeish played football for East Fife, a lower division Scottish football club. Aside from this he was a lecturer at Heriot-Watt University before entering politics. McLeish was leader of Fife Regional Council, before his election as a Labour MP for Central Fife in the 1987 General Election. When Labour came to power in 1997, McLeish was appointed as a Minister of the Scottish Office.

As Donald Dewar's right hand man he helped secure devolution for Scotland and manoeuvre the appropriate legislation through Parliament. After the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, McLeish was elected as MSP for Fife Central and became Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning. After Dewar's untimely death in 2000, McLeish defeated his rival Jack McConnell in the race for First Ministership. After McLeish resigned Jack McConnell became Scotland's third First Minister in three years, and McLeish stood down from his seat at the 2003 election.

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