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banner Monday, 19 November, 2001, 19:10 GMT
Four vie for first minister's job
Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell is favourite for Scotland's top job
Scottish National Party leader John Swinney, independent MSP Dennis Canavan and Tory leader David McLetchie will challenge the new Scottish Labour leader for the post of first minister.

Mr Swinney told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that he wanted to open up a contest in light of Jack McConnell's unchallenged bid to become his party's leader.

And Mr Canavan, who challenged Henry McLeish at the last first minister election, added that Labour's sole nominee selection of Mr McConnell at the weekend was a farce which would have "made North Korea proud".

I want to pursue a political agenda about making sure we deliver for the people of Scotland

John Swinney, SNP leader

A spokesman for Mr McLetchie confirmed on Monday that he would be standing.

Mr Swinney said on Monday: "There has been no contest so far so we will have a contest on Thursday.

"And it will be a contest based on who has the best ideas for taking Scotland forward."

He added that Labour had come through "a few miserable weeks, miserable months, miserable years" with an attachment to a crony culture in Scotland.

Call for PR

Mr Swinney said: "I want to bring forward a candidacy to tackle that crony culture and tackle the need to clean up Scottish politics and restore public confidence.

"I also want to pursue a political agenda about making sure we deliver for the people of Scotland."

Dennis Canavan
It will be Dennis Canavan's second first minister contest
He called on Mr McConnell to deliver proportional representation voting in local elections by 2003, and to support a bill by nationalist MSP Alex Neil giving parliament a greater role in quango appointments.

Mr Swinney described PR in local elections as "absolutely fundamental" for opening up what he claimed were long-standing local Labour one-party municipal states.

Mr McConnell is due to meet Liberal Democrat MSPs on Tuesday, ahead of Thursday's vote in Parliament on the post of first minister.

And Mr Swinney said: "I think the Liberal Democrats are in danger of becoming tainted by the same degree of cronyism, the same degree of unwillingness to open democratic scrutiny, because they won't put PR top of the political agenda."

BBC Scotland's political editor, Brian Taylor
"That won't stop opponents when MSPs pick Scotland's new first minister"
See also:

18 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
Labour urged to back new Scots leader
17 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
McConnell sets priorities for office
17 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
McConnell's clear run to the top job
17 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
Opposition scorn for Scots Labour leader
Links to more McLeish resignation stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more McLeish resignation stories