Malcolm Bruce

Former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and life peer

The Right Honourable
The Lord Bruce of Bennachie
Official portrait of Lord Bruce of Bennachie crop 2, 2019.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats
In office
28 January 2014 – 8 May 2015
LeaderNick Clegg
Preceded bySimon Hughes
Succeeded byJo Swinson (2017)
Chair of the International Development Committee
In office
14 July 2005 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byTony Baldry
Succeeded byStephen Twigg
Chair of the Liberal Democrats
In office
9 August 1999 – 7 June 2001
LeaderCharles Kennedy
Preceded byAlan Beith
Succeeded byMark Oaten
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
In office
3 March 1988 – 18 April 1992
LeaderSteel · Maclennan (Acting)
Paddy Ashdown
PresidentRussell Johnston
Preceded byRussell Johnston (Scot Lib.)
Succeeded byJim Wallace
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
19 October 2015
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Gordon
In office
9 June 1983 – 30 March 2015
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byAlex Salmond
Personal details
Born (1944-11-17) 17 November 1944 (age 78)
Birkenhead, England
Political partyLiberal Democrats
Veronica Wilson
(m. 1969⁠–⁠1992)

Rosemary Vetterlein
(m. 1998)
Alma materUniversity of St Andrews
University of Strathclyde

Malcolm Gray Bruce, Baron Bruce of Bennachie, Kt PC (born 17 November 1944) is a British Liberal Democrat politician.

He was the Member of Parliament for Gordon from 1983 to 2015 and was the chairman of the International Development Select Committee from 2005 to 2015.[1][2] He was deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats from 28 January 2014. He was nominated for a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours.[3] He was also previously President of the Scottish Liberal Democrats until being succeeded by Councillor Eileen McCartin from 1 January 2016.

Early life

Bruce was born in Birkenhead, and educated at Wrekin College in Shropshire, England, prior to attending Queen's College (now the University of Dundee) at the University of St Andrews,[4] where he received a degree in economics and political science, and Strathclyde University[5] where he received a second degree in marketing. He was a trainee journalist with the Liverpool Post for a year from 1966 prior to him becoming a section buyer with the Boots Group in 1967. After a brief spell with A. Goldberg & Son, he was appointed in 1971 as a research and information officer with the North East Scotland Development Agency. He contested the parliamentary seat of North Angus and Mearns for the Liberal Party at the October 1974 general election, but the sitting Conservative and Unionist MP Alick Buchanan-Smith won with a majority of 2,551.


Bruce was elected as the Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Liberal Party in 1975, in the same year he became a director with the Noroil Publishing House. He again stood for Parliament at the 1979 general election for the seat of West Aberdeenshire and was again defeated by a sitting Conservative and Unionist MP, this time by Russell Fairgrieve by 2,766 votes. Bruce became the editor of the Aberdeen Petroleum Press in 1981 until his election as MP for Gordon in 1983.

He was called to the bar at the Gray's Inn in 1995.

Member of Parliament

Bruce stood for parliament for a third time at the newly created seat of Gordon, based largely on the former Aberdeenshire West. Fairgrieve retired, and at the 1983 general election he was very narrowly elected and became the Liberal MP for Gordon with a majority of just 850, and held the seat for thirty-two years. He was an outspoken opponent of coalition with the Labour Party.[6]

When he was elected to parliament, Bruce served on the Scottish Affairs Select committee, and in 1986 was given a job by David Steel as a Spokesman on Energy and Scotland. He also became Rector of the University of Dundee in 1986 for three years. After the 1987 general election, at which Bruce's majority had increased to 9,519, he was briefly a spokesman on Education, before speaking on Trade and Industry later in 1987. After the amalgamation of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party and the formation of the Liberal Democrats he became the new party's Energy spokesman and at the same time became the Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats under the new leadership of Paddy Ashdown. In 1989 he was appointed as the Environment spokesman, before having the Scotland portfolio after 1990.

After the 1992 general election, at which he narrowly held Gordon by just 274 votes, he again became the Trade and Industry spokesman. By 1994 he had become the Treasury spokesman. Whilst a Treasury spokesman it was Bruce who developed the idea of a 'penny on income tax'. At the 1997 general election Bruce's majority had risen again to 6,997. The Liberal Democrats had 46 MPs, more than they have had since before the 1920s. Paddy Ashdown created a new Shadow Cabinet system and Bruce became the Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. When Ashdown stood down in 1999 he contested the leadership of the party but came in third place. In 1999, under the new leadership of Charles Kennedy, became the Chairman of the Liberal Democrats until 2001, and 2000 - 2015 was the president of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Bruce won Gordon for the fifth consecutive time at the 2001 general election with a still rising majority of 7,879. Following his re-election, Bruce became the Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in 2003. He stood down from the frontbench following the 2005 general election, where he was re-elected with his highest majority yet at 11,026. He was Chairman of the International Development Select Committee from 2005 to 2015, scrutinising the work of the Department of International Development.

He was made a Member of the Privy Council on 19 July 2006.

He was knighted in the 2012 Birthday Honours for public and political service.[7][8]

On 2 September 2013 he announced that he would not seek re-election as an MP at the 2015 General Election.[9] He was announced as a life peer in the 2015 Dissolution Honours and was created Baron Bruce of Bennachie, of Torphins in the County of Aberdeen on 19 October.[10]

Personal life

He married Veronica Jane Wilson in 1969 and they have a son and a daughter, before divorcing in 1992. Bruce married secondly, in 1998, Rosemary Vetterlein, a Lib Dem activist and prospective parliamentary candidate[11] who contested Beckenham unsuccessfully in 1997.

Lord and Lady Bruce have two daughters and a son together. Bruce takes a keen interest in deaf issues; one of his children is deaf.[12]


  1. ^ [1] Archived 28 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "International Development Committee – membership – UK Parliament". 13 July 2010. Archived from the original on 15 November 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  4. ^ The politics department said he wasn't honours material – Nato Secretary General Lord George Robertson talked to Carol Pope Archived 9 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine GC Magazine 2000, University of Dundee
  5. ^ "Malcolm Bruce". Liberal Democrats. 24 January 2014. Archived from the original on 15 November 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Liberal Democrats should beware a pact with". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 17 September 2012. Archived from the original on 15 November 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  7. ^ "No. 60173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2012. p. 1.
  8. ^ "No. 60593". The London Gazette. 9 August 2013. p. 1.
  9. ^ Ross, Calum (9 February 2013). "Article – MP Sir Malcolm to quit 'while I still enjoy job'". Press and Journal. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  10. ^ "No. 61389". The London Gazette. 23 October 2015. p. 19950.
  11. ^ "Ward 20 Hilltown - Declaration of poll" (PDF). City of Dundee District Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  12. ^ "Congratulations to Sir Malcolm and Lady Bruce". Caron's musings. 16 June 2012. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2018.

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