Helen Lawrie Liddell, Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, PC (born 6 December 1950) is a British Labour Party politician who served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Monklands East from 1994 to 1997, and then for Airdrie and Shotts until 2005.
Liddell then became the British High Commissioner to Australia until 2009, having previously been appointed a Cabinet Minister as Secretary of State for Scotland.
On 28 May 2010, it was announced in the Dissolution Honours List that she would be created a Life Peer.
Liddell was born Helen Lawrie Reilly, the daughter of a Catholic father and a Protestant mother, and educated at St. Patrick's Catholic High School on Muiryhall Street in Coatbridge. She attended at the same time as John Reid, whom she later replaced as Secretary of State for Scotland and also made way for as MP for Airdrie and Shotts.
She graduated as a BA in Economics from the University of Strathclyde and became a member of the Labour Party being the first female General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party at the age of 26 from 1977–78.
A former BBC Scotland economics journalist from 1976–77, Liddell has taken flak for her closeness to media proprietor Robert Maxwell. Working as aide she once followed him on one occasion in to a gents' toilet while being followed by a TV crew. She was also the public affairs director of Maxwell's Scottish Daily Record.
After Maxwell's disgrace she tried to distance herself from him claiming that she had never worked for Maxwell.
Helen Liddell published one novel about women in politics, called Elite (Century, 1990).
She contested East Fife constituency in October 1974.
Liddell was first elected to Parliament in 1994, at the closely fought Monklands East by-election following John Smith's death. She was appointed a Privy Councillor on 27 October 1998.
She was Secretary of State for Scotland from 2001 to 2003, a position whose powers had been transferred to the Scottish Executive after devolution in 1999. In addition she angered the monks of Buckfast Abbey when she called on them to stop selling Buckfast Tonic Wine in Scotland. She was dubbed Minister for Monarch of the Glen after several visits to the set of the hit BBC series.
The disclosure that she was able to work French lessons into her ministerial diary raised questions about the relevance of Scottish Secretary's job post-devolution and it was abolished as a full-time position in 2003, when the Scotland Office was rolled into the Department for Constitutional Affairs.
She took up appointment as British High Commissioner to Australia in the summer of 2005. She was succeeded in the role by Valerie, Baroness Amos in October 2009.
She was created a Life Peer on 7 July 2010 taking the title Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, of Airdrie in the County of Lanarkshire, six days later becoming a House of Lords member where she sits till this day.
She married Alistair Liddell in 1972; they have one son and one daughter.