Social worker and politician;

Born: October 31, 1939;

Died: July 21, 2019

Trish Godman, who has died aged 79, was one of the original “99ers”, a founder Member of the Scottish Parliament who went on to become convenor of its Local Government Committee and one of two Deputy Presiding Officers.

Patricia “Trish” Godman (née Leonard) was born in Govan on 31 October 1939, the daughter of Martin Leonard and Cathie (née Craig). She left St Gerard’s Senior Secondary School aged 15 to look after her terminally-ill mother, going on to work in a variety of roles, as a waitress, in a bar, with a charity, as a works-cashier, a bank clerk, shop assistant and an insurance collector.

By 21, Leonard was also married with three children, although their husband left the following year. Shunned by the Catholic community and most of her family, she tried living with the boys in Spain, then in a friend’s spare bedroom, but was unable to cope. After some failed foster placements, Michael, Mark and Gary were placed in a children’s home. Eventually, having held down two jobs, Trish secured a flat in Pollok, which meant her children could come home. As they got older, she began studying at Jordanhill College in Glasgow, graduating with a social work diploma in 1976.

She went on to work in the city’s East End with people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, including at the Good Shepherd Centre in Bishopton, an experience that left an indelible mark upon her politics. In 1981, Leonard married the Hull-born Dr Norman Godman (known as “Bowie”), an academic who had contested Aberdeen South at the 1979 general election. In 1983, he was successfully elected the Labour MP for Greenock and Port Glasgow (later Inverclyde), remaining in the House of Commons until 2001.

Trish, meanwhile, pursued her own political career, initially in local government. She was elected to Strathclyde Regional Council in 1994, becoming one of its vice convenors and, later, a member of the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority. Although disliked by the Conservative governments of the day, Godman believed the authority, although covering a large area, was both effective and well run. Following local government reorganisation in 1995, she represented the Hillhead ward on Glasgow City Council from 1996, serving as vice chair of its social work committee.

Godman’s parliamentary ambitions, however, proved more complicated. In 1989 she and others attempted to have the left-winger George Galloway deselected in the Glasgow Hillhead constituency. This failed, and her bid to secure the nomination for the new Kelvin seat before the 1992 general election further soured relations between the two (though they did not necessarily disagree on everything politically). While Godman had a comfortable majority among party members, she lost out to Galloway’s trade union support.

In late 1992, Godman also tried to succeed Janey Buchan as Member of the European Parliament for the Glasgow regional constituency but lost out to fellow Strathclyde councillor Bill Miller. The creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 offered a third and ultimately successful opportunity, although this too proved rocky.

Under Labour Party rules, Scottish seats were “twinned” and required to select one man and one woman in order to achieve gender balance. Donald Dewar, the Scottish Secretary and a close friend of Godman’s, was obviously a shoe-in at Anniesland, but his desire to have her as his running mate in the adjoining Kelvin constituency came up against competition from George Galloway, who wanted trade union official Pauline McNeill. Galloway (and McNeill) won.

Instead, Trish was selected in West Renfrewshire, and in May was elected with a majority of nearly 3,000, much to her husband’s delight. The following month, Godman became the first convenor of the parliament’s Local Government Committee, a fitting role given her career to date. She also served as a member, somewhat less glamorously, of the Subordinate Legislation Committee.

The sudden death of Donald Dewar in 2000 perhaps deprived Godman of a political sponsor, and while her Chamber contributions were unremarkable, her work on the Local Government Committee was universally well regarded. When the Section 28/2a controversy flared up, she dealt calmly and competently with witnesses as well as strongly-held views among committee members. The majority opinion, and hers too, was in favour of repeal.

When the Ethical Standards in Public Life Bill passed in June 2000, Godman said it was “a day for quiet pride in a new and tolerant Scotland”. Later, she clashed (amicably) with the Independent MSP Margo MacDonald over prostitution. Margo favoured legislation to establish tolerance zones, whereas Godman advocated the criminalisation of those who paid for sex, introducing a Member’s Bill to that end.

Godman had thought about putting her name forward as a Deputy Presiding Officer, but her colleague Cathy Peattie was nominated instead. A better opportunity arose following the 2003 election and she was elected as one of two deputies to George Reid, who had succeeded Sir David Steel. Her re-election following the 2007 Holyrood election was testament to her popularity in the chair, from which she was direct, courteous and, on occasion, humorous.

There were also challenging personal issues. One of Godman’s sons from her first marriage, Gary Mulgrew, was charged with fraud in a United States case relating to the Enron scandal. For years he fought extradition – his mother called it an “unjust” treaty which “breaches human rights” – but pleaded guilty in 2007. Sentenced in 2008 and released from a Texas prison in 2011, Mulgrew later wrote a book about his experience and early life, including the challenges faced by his mother.

Godman retired from politics in 2011, although her departure from the Scottish Parliament led to a bizarre incident in which she and two others (Celtic manager Neil Lennon and the late Paul McBride QC) were sent explosive packages, in her case to her constituency office in Bridge of Weir. It was thought Godman was targeted for having worn a Celtic strip to Parliament on her last day as a “dare for charity”. Those responsible were charged the following year.

In retirement, she joined Norman (who had been a frequent visitor to the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament) on their cherished allotment and in tending to a growing number of grandchildren. Both possessed ready smiles and a gentle manner, evidence of a long and happy marriage. Trish also chaired the charity Quarriers, which had provided refuge for her grandfather and his two brothers in the early 1900s.

Trish Godman died on 21 July 2019 following a long illness at St Margaret’s Hospice in ¬Clydebank, and is survived by her three sons, Michael, Mark and Gary. Norman Godman predeceased her in June 2018.