John Francis Cunningham (born February 16, 1932) is a former Scottish Labour politician who served as Prime Minister of Scotland on three occasions (1989, 1990-1991 and 1993-1995), and as Leader of the Labour Party from 1989 to 1997.
First elected to parliament in 1969, Cunningham's political rise was rapid, entering cabinet in 1971 as Postmaster General. He soon came to be associated with the more right wing elements within the party. When Labour returned to government in 1975 he was made first Minister of Defence (1975-77) and then Minister for Social Security (1977-78).
When Gordon Reid stood down in 1979 Cunningham contested the leadership, losing to Andrew Fraser in the second round. Fraser appointed Cunningham shadow Finance Minister in an attempt for party unity. When Labour returned to office in 1981 Cunningham was appointed Finance Minister.
As Finance Minister Cunningham battled constantly with Fraser about the scale and pace of economic reform, Cunningham preffering balanced budgets, tighter spending controls and elements of privatisation and Fraser preferring a more moderate speed of economic reform. By 1987 Cunningham was privately lobbying MPs to support a leadership challenge against Fraser, and in 1988 openly challenged him for the leadership, losing narrowly. He subsequently resigned as Finance Minister.
In 1989 Cunningham challenged again, this time winning by an equally narrow margin. He briefly formed an administration but was unable to present a budget or any legislation due to an imminent election campaign, which resulted in a defeat for Cunningham and the Labour Party.
In November 1989 the centre-right coalition government was suddenly and unexpectedly defeated on a budget vote, leading to a snap general election the following January. The election saw Labour gain only two seats, but Cunningham was subsequently elected Prime Minister thanks to the support of the Liberal, Green and Socialist parties, as well as 4 independents.
John Francis Cunningham was born on February 16, 1932.