03 November 2000
MacKay, a long-time ally of McLeish, takes over as finance minister from the defeated leadership candidate Jack McConnell, and has also been given responsibility for local government.
MacKay, who was finance convener of the City of Edinburgh Council before being elected to the Scottish Parliament last year as MSP for Edinburgh South, will be responsible for the Executive's £18bn budget. Once McLeish's researcher in the Commons at Westminster, he ran the new leader's campaign to succeed Donald Dewar.
Regarded as a rising star in the Labour Party, MacKay inherits the local government role from former Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety, who has been sacked as a deputy minister.
The linking of finance with local government in a ministerial portfolio has been seen as a sensible move at a time when funding issues are an increasingly important part of the modernisation agenda for Scotland's councils.
MacKay's deputy will be Peter Peacock, formerly a Highland Council convener and vice-president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
The biggest surprise in the reshuffle was the shifting of McConnell to the post of minister for education, Europe and external affairs. The former Labour councillor and general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party had been expected to remain in his post as finance minister.
Now he must try to sort out the chaos that has arisen as a result of thousands of pupils having received incomplete or inaccurate exam results.