Labour politician; Born January 20, 1931; Died June 9, 2007.

Harry Ewing, who has died at age of 76, was a Labour MP for 21 years who found his destiny in the role of co-chairman of the Scottish Constitutional Convention.

That body worked, from 1990-96, to provide the blueprint for the devolution legislation that was introduced when Labour came to power in 1997.

Ewing, who retired from the House of Commons in 1992 and was then ennobled, was the natural choice for this role as Labour's nominee alongside David Steel.

He was a lifelong devolutionist who had day-to-day responsibility for the failed legislation of the 1970s.

While wounded by that experience, he continued to fight his corner within the Labour Party without rancour, while enhancing his reputation as a statesmanlike and effective parliamentarian.

When Jim Sillars established his breakaway Scottish Labour Party in the late 1970s, Ewing was seen in some quarters as a likely ally. However, he said later that he had never been invited and never considered the possibility. Indeed, he opined, the initiative had illustrated "the gaps in Jim Sillars's political education". He had warned Sillars about the inevitability of Trotskyite entryism, the malaise which effectively killed off the SLP.

Harry Ewing was schooled in the values of municipal socialism in Cowdenbeath. His father, he said, was "a miner for 51 years and a town councillor for 38".

In these days, the political opposition to Labour in Fife came from the Communists, the fight was dirty and Ewing was no respecter of that tradition within Scottish political life. He believed firmly in delivery of improved living conditions and opportunities for all as the fundamental raison d'etre of the Labour Party.

In his maiden speech in the Commons, Ewing declared simply: "My aim in life has always been that there should be jobs for all."

This was a principle that moved him to repeated involvement in campaigns to protect industrial employment in Scotland and also to impassioned denunciations of Tory policy in the 1980s.

He was also, for much the same reason, an early opponent of the European Common Market, which he saw as a threat to jobs. He nominated Peter Shore for the Labour Party leadership in 1983.

Determined not to follow his two brothers down the pits, Harry became a postman and soon rose through the ranks of the union. He fought his home constituency of East Fife in 1970 before winning Stirling and Falkirk in the 1971 by-election. Throughout the period of Labour government from 1974-79, he was an Under-Secretary of State at the Scottish Office where, in addition to his responsibilities on the constitution, he was a very good Minister for Health with a particular interest in the wellbeing of disabled people.

Harry Ewing was a cheerful and ever-helpful parliamentary colleague and an extremely diligent constituency MP; his boundaries changed with regularity and he ended up as the representative of Falkirk East. He left the Commons at the age of 60 and, thus liberated, he took on a host of public roles alongside his co-chairmanship of the Scottish Constitutional Convention. They included the chairing of an inquiry into the availability of housing for wheelchair-users and other disabled people.

He represented a distinctly Presbyterian strain within the Scottish Labour Party - slightly conservative on social issues, a member of the Church of Scotland's Education Committee, honorary president of the Girls' Brigade and an elder of the Kirk. He was also an impressive authority on the life and works of Robert Burns, in great demand to deliver toasts to the Immortal Memory, which he did with great fluency and style. He was proud to list the presidency of Bowhill People's Burns' Club among the offices he held.

By Brian Wilson