Alex Rowley

Alexander Andrew Penman Rowley (born 30 November 1963) is a Scottish Labour politician and current Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government.[1] He served as the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party from 2015 to 2017. He also briefly served as interim leader of the party in 2017 following the resignation of Kezia Dugdale. He is currently an additional member of the Scottish Parliament for Mid Scotland and Fife. First elected at the Cowdenbeath by-election in January 2014 for the Cowdenbeath constituency, he lost the seat to Annabelle Ewing of the SNP in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election but was re-elected to the Scottish Parliament as an additional member for Mid Scotland and Fife. He is described as representing the left-wing of the Labour party.[2]

Alex Rowley

Rowley in 2016
Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
In office
29 August 2017  15 November 2017
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byKezia Dugdale
Succeeded byJackie Baillie (Acting)
Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
In office
15 August 2015  16 December 2017
LeaderKezia Dugdale
Preceded byKezia Dugdale
Succeeded byLesley Laird
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Mid Scotland and Fife
(1 of 7 Regional MSPs)
Assumed office
6 May 2016
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Cowdenbeath
In office
23 January 2014  23 March 2016
Preceded byHelen Eadie
Succeeded byAnnabelle Ewing
General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party
In office
1 May 1998  31 May 1999
Preceded byJack McConnell
Succeeded byLesley Quinn
Personal details
Born (1963-11-30) 30 November 1963 (age 56)
Dunfermline, Scotland, UK
Political partyScottish Labour Party
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
WebsiteOfficial website

Early life

Born in Dunfermline and raised in Kelty, he was educated at St Columba's High School (Dunfermline), Newbattle Abbey College (Dalkeith), and the University of Edinburgh, graduating with an MA Honours in sociology and politics, and an MSc in community education.[3]

Political career

Rowley was General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party for one year; from May 1998 to May 1999. He was first elected to Fife Regional Council in 1990 when he was Chairman of Finance, and he later became the first leader of the new Fife Council, a position he returned to in 2012 until his election to the Scottish Parliament in 2014.[citation needed]

Prior to his election as an MSP he was a Fife councillor (re-elected in 2007) and Labour Council Group Leader.[4] He has three grown-up children, one of whom is Danielle Rowley; who was elected as MP for Midlothian (UK Parliament constituency) at the 2017 snap election and also has a granddaughter. He worked as an education official with the TUC and worked for five years as an assistant, election agent and constituency manager to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He was considered Gordon Brown's right-hand man and protégé.[5][6] He stood in the 2011 Scottish election as a Labour candidate for Dunfermline.

Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

He declared his candidacy for the Scottish Labour Party's 2015 deputy leadership election, and was supported in his candidacy by trade unions ASLEF, CWU, NUM, Scottish Co-Operative Party, Socialist Health Association, TSSA, UCATT, and UNISON. He comfortably won the first round preferences of votes from the labour party membership and secured victory with over half the votes in the second round of voting. He was elected on 15 August 2015.[7] Following Kezia Dugdale's resignation, he took over as acting leader of the Scottish Labour Party, until the new leader was elected.[8]

In September 2017, a leaked recording that was taken without permission and sold to the Scottish Sun newspaper of Alex Rowley at the Brighton Labour Party Conference led to accusations of a plot to oust Kezia Dugdale and replace her with Richard Leonard. Rowley said he backed Leonard to become leader to a member of the public, as well as party member, in a conversation that turned out to be a freelance journalist secretly recording the conversation undercover. Rowley had stated he would remain neutral, however was unaware of being recorded by what turned out to be a journalist trying to sell a story. Rowley apologised for the leaked recording, but strenuously denied being involved in or even aware of any plots within the labour party to remove Dugdale.[9]

Shadow Cabinet

Rowley was Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government from October 2018 until September 2019.[10] During the 2019 Scottish budget process, Rowley was reprimanded by the Scottish Labour leader due to Rowley's personal discussions with the SNP Finance Secretary about supporting the budget in exchange for cuts to local government being substituted for Higher Education cuts in breach of Scottish Labour Party policy and undermining the budget spokesperson James Kelly.[11]

Rowley became Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Brexit and Constitutional Relations in September 2019.[12]

Personal life

On 15 November 2017 Alex Rowley resigned as deputy leader after his former partner took to a newspaper, again The Scottish Sun, to accuse him of sending her disrespectful text messages. The woman refused to reveal her identity, and the alleged incident had happened almost four years previously, before being sold to The Scottish Sun newspaper. Rowley denied the allegations, referred himself for investigation and said he would clear his name.[13]

The Scottish Labour Party issued a statement saying: "Alex Rowley has stood aside as Interim and Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour and referred himself to the Party's internal complaints procedure regarding allegations made against him."[14] A Scottish Labour spokesperson also said: "At no point did the Labour party receive a formal complaint regarding Alex Rowley. The party was approached by newspapers with unsubstantiated claims, with no evidence shared with the Labour party prior to publication in the Sun newspaper."[15]

The former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale issued a statement calling for Rowley to be immediately suspended from the party while the investigation was ongoing.[16] Leadership candidate Anas Sarwar also joined calls for Rowley to be suspended while the investigation was carried out.[17]

Rowley claimed there was a determined attempt to use the media to damage him and his family for political purposes. The investigation concluded that there was no case to answer.[18]


  1. "MSPs". Scottish Labour. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  2. "Kezia Dugdale steps down as Scottish Labour's leader". The Economist. 2 September 2017.
  3. "BMMS May 1999". Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  4. "Labour denies London control claim".
  5. "Home of the Daily and Sunday Express". 1 May 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  6. Jack O'Sullivan Scotland Correspondent (21 May 1999). "Parliament: Scotland: Labour sacks Scots party chief". The Independent. London, UK. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  7. "Dugdale named Scottish Labour leader". 15 August 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  8. "Kezia Dugdale quits as Scottish Labour leader". 29 August 2017 via
  9. "Rowley 'gutted' over leadership row tape". 28 September 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  10. "Scottish Labour's Shadow Cabinet". Scottish Labour. 4 October 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  11. "Scottish Labour leader urged to sack colleague over Budget 'humiliation'". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  12. "Scottish Labour reshuffle as Sarah Boyack returns to frontline politics". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  15. "Labour received ‘no formal complaint’ about Alex Rowley". Holyrood Magazine. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  18. "Labour received ‘no formal complaint’ about Alex Rowley". Holyrood Magazine. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2019.