Ian Campbell -2007

Ian Campbell, who has died in September 2007 of cancer aged 81, was MP for West Dunbartonshire and later, following boundary redistribution, for Dumbarton.

He attended Knoxland Primary School and Dumbarton Academy, and was the first member of his family to have the opportunity of further education, studying Electrical Engineering at the then Royal College of Science and Technology, now Strathclyde University.

He worked in the steam test section for the South of Scotland Electricity Board but in 1958 was elected to Dumbarton Burgh Council for the fourth ward. It was not an easy ward for Labour candidates, but he held his seat for 12 years. Although Dumbarton had been represented for a considerable time by Labour MPs, the town had only had one Labour administration – in the immediate post-war period, when, coincidentally, his next-door neighbour had been provost.

The year 1962 was a watershed year, with the Labour group taking control of the council. Campbell was elected provost, and was to serve for three terms. The young Labour administration carried out an ambitious programme of slum clearance, house building and town-centre redevelopment but early in his provostship, the town suffered a bitter blow with the closure of the Denny Shipyard, one of the town’s major employers for generations; many of Campbell’s own older relatives had spent their working lives there.

The decline in heavy industry made economic regeneration the major priority of the council from then on. In 1970, following the retirement of Tom Steele, Campbell was elected as Member of Parliament for West Dunbartonshire, and later for Dumbarton.

He held his seat until his retirement in 1987, although with narrowed majorities in the 1974 elections, first over the Conservatives and then over the SNP. He served as parliamentary private secretary to Bruce Millan when he was Secretary of State for Scotland, and as chairman of Scottish Standing Committees and of the Scottish Grand Committee when it sat in the Royal High School building in Edinburgh.

He loved life and laughter and was at his happiest surrounded by family or friends, and enjoyed good food and drink and the camaraderie of political life. He was a talented schoolboy footballer, and retained a love of the game throughout his long life.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, his five children, Willie, Ray, Helen, Sandy and Alison, their spouses and 13 grandchildren.