SCOTLAND'S largest council has been plunged into shock with news one of its highest profile politicians has died suddenly.

Labour stalwart Alistair Watson was found dead in his Glasgow home this morning.

Mr Watson, who was in his 50s, had been one of the highest profile local politicians in the west of Scotland across the last two decades.

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His death was confirmed by Glasgow City Council and comes just a day after it emerged another Labour veteran in the city had died.

Gerry Leonard passed away in hospital on Tuesday aged 65.

A sometimes controversial figure, 59-year-old Mr Watson had been chairman of transport quango SPT for a number of years, was the political head of land and environmental services and had most recently been Labour's chief whip on Glasgow City Council.

The popular Cardonald councillor, who represented the south side area for 22 years, continued to hold a senior position for Labour after they were voted out of power in May and had been nominated a senior figure on their executive team.

He leaves behind his children Cheryl and Jordan and grand-daughter Evie.

READ MORE: ‘Rest in peace Big Al’: Tributes pour in for Labour’s Alistair Watson after sudden death

Today's full council meeting in Glasgow is now expected to be scaled back to essential business only.

Lord Provost Eva Bolander will allow time for friends and colleagues to pay their individual respects to 'big Al'. 

Frank McAveety, Labour group leader, said: “The city has lost a major political figure. He was a shrewd politician and a champion for the people of Cardonald.

"On a personal level, I have lost a loyal friend. The Labour Party and family has lost a crusader who was always fizzing with ideas. A doer, who got things done to improve the lives of the people across this city, especially the people in his ward.

“Alistair was well-known for his combative nature in debate. However, he never let that affect relationships and always maintained cordial relations across the council. He was an approachable, decent and compassionate man who made a real difference. Always willing to go the extra mile for people seeking his help and support.”

Council leader Susan Aitken said: “Alistair was a political animal. He absolutely loved being part of the council and being involved in the business of the council. Nobody could surpass his knowledge of council procedure and protocols.

"He will be remembered for his formidable contributions to council debates. He loved the cut and thrust of politics.

"Personally, I’ve known Alistair for 20 years. Outside the debating chamber he was incredibly warm and gracious. I have many fond memories.”

Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “Alistair was a towering figure, physically and politically. An astute and seasoned politician. He had a significant and hugely influential role in local politics. My condolences go to his family.”

Described as a firm believer in co-operative values, he was a member of the Co-operative Party and had been a train driver before entering politics.

Friends say he was a proud and life-long ASLEF member and trade unionist and that his professional background fuelled his passion to find strategic transport solutions for the city. 

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “This is a shock to the Labour family. Alistair was a committed public servant for more than twenty years.

“Alistair Watson worked for his community and the Labour Party tirelessly. Glasgow Labour has lost a giant and the city of Glasgow has lost a passionate advocate. 

“Alistair was a tireless campaigner for better transport links and for the power of regenerating communities.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.  

ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said: "Alistair was a trade unionist to his fingertips and an outstanding Labour councillor for the people of Cardonald in Glasgow for 22 years. Our thoughts are with his family."

Johann Lamont MSP, a colleague whose former constituency included Mr Watson's ward, said: “This is devastating news.  Alistair was a giant of a man in every way. He was kind and generous with his time and was always there to give support and encouragement.  

"He was passionate about equality and justice and fought tirelessly to serve the interests of his constituents.  

“Deeply knowledgeable about transport in particular and the issues facing Glasgow and across Scotland, he brought the very best to public services.  Above all, he was a family man, a devoted father and besotted grandfather.  My thoughts are with them at this saddest of times."