Rt Hon Lord George Robertson

Key Political Figure

George Islay MacNeill Robertson, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, GCMG, PC, FRSA, FRSE is a British Labour Party politician who was the tenth Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation from 1999 to 2004; he succeeded Javier Solana in that position.

He served as Defence Secretary for the United Kingdom from 1997 to 1999, before taking up his NATO position and becoming a life peer as Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, of Islay in Argyll and Bute.

Robertson first entered the House of Commons as a Labour MP and minor entity in 1978, after having won the Hamilton by-election in May 1978, caused by the death of the incumbent Labour MP Alex Wilson in March of that year.

He was challenged for the seat by the SNP candidate, Margo MacDonald, who came second. Robertson retained the constituency with an increased majority and obtained 51% of the overall vote.

He was re-elected to Parliament at the five subsequent general elections, was Chairman of the Labour Party in Scotland, and was appointed to the Privy Council. After Labour won the 1997 General Election, Robertson was appointed Secretary of State for Defence, a position he held until he resigned from the Cabinet in order to become Secretary General of NATO in 1999.

He was appointed as NATO Secretary General after German defence minister Rudolf Scharping declined to be nominated for the position, and doubts were raised about the suitability of British politician and former Royal Marine Paddy Ashdown (at that time the outgoing leader of the Liberal Democrats) due to his never having held a position in government.

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