Peter Doig, former Dundee councillor and MP; born September 27, 1911, died October 31, 1996

PETER Doig, who represented Dundee West in the Commons for 16 years, has died at the age of 85. He was a surprise successor to John Strachey, the glittering Labour intellectual whose death in 1963 caused a by-election and elevated the former bakery van driver to Parliament.

The two men could hardly have been more different. Strachey, the upper class theoretician, polemicist, and Labour Minister, was more at home in Bloomsbury than the squalid tenements of the Irish slum known as ``Tipperary'' in the heart of his Dundee constituency. The favourite to succeed Strachey was J L Stewart, the articulate left-wing leader of Dundee town council but the Jute and Flax Workers Union, a bastion of the right-wing and then a power in a city still dominated by jute mills, manoeuvred to have Doig selected.

Doig was a down-to-earth man of the people, widely respected for his scrupulous honesty and integrity. A poor public speaker, he was nonetheless popular with his constituents and started off his election meetings in pensioners' clubs with sing-songs.

His teetotalism reflected an earlier aspect of Dundee politics dating back to the twenties and thirties when Dundee was the unlikely home of the Prohibition Party and returned Britain's only prohibitionist Member of Parliament. Born the son of a miner in Lochgelly, Fife, in 1911, Doig was brought to Dundee as a child because his father did not want his four sons to follow him down the pit. He left school at the age of 14 and served in the transport section of the RAF during the war.

Doig joined the Labour Party at the age of 17 and was elected to Dundee town council in 1953. He served as parks convener and transport convener before becoming city treasurer.

In Parliament, Doig became chairman of the Scottish Grand Committee and was a leadership loyalist, rarely straying into rebellion. He was particularly proud of his part in drafting legislation that effectively ended feu duty in Scotland. Doig's passionate belief in capital punishment was just one of the issues which led him into a collision course with the increasingly left-wing labour movement in Dundee, which became radicalised in the sixties thanks to the influence of the Communist Party in the powerful shop stewards' movement.

While the labour movement in Dundee battled anti-union legislation, Doig introduced a Bill to protect postmen from dangerous dogs. With his political base withering in Dundee, Doig became increasingly remote and was criticised for leaving the city to live across the Tay in Fife shortly after his election to Westminster.

Left-wing activists in the Dundee Labour Party set up a secret organisation and used union muscle to wrest power from the old guard. There was no direct challenge to Doig, however, and he was able to continue in Parliament until his retiral in 1979.

Saddened at the axing of many of his former council colleagues and alarmed at the rise of the Left, Doig quit Labour two years after his retiral and joined the Social Democratic Party.

He enjoyed his retirement and was a keen chess and snooker player. He also played dominoes and bowls for local teams in his adopted village of Wormit.

He is survived by his wife, Emily, and sons, James and John. His funeral is next Tuesday at Wormit Parish Church.