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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 August, 2003, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Swinney launches leadership defence
John Swinney defended his leadership
John Swinney has launched his campaign to retain the leadership of the Scottish National Party on his return to politics after his honeymoon.

Mr Swinney set out his case for remaining national convener of the SNP at a news conference on Tuesday.

He defended the party's strategy at the May election and promised to run a "positive and creative" campaign.

Mr Swinney's leadership was put under pressure when Glasgow activist Bill Wilson put his name forward to stand against him at the party's September conference.

Mr Wilson said the SNP leader had ignored the views of grassroots members.

Political issues

The former election candidate for Glasgow Maryhill criticised the SNP's showing at the Holyrood election, where it lost eight seats.

Mr Swinney faced the challenge to his leadership just days before his wedding to BBC journalist Elizabeth Quigley three weeks ago.

On Tuesday, the North Tayside MSP formally launched his campaign in Glasgow.

Mr Swinney said there were "many more effective ways" of addressing concerns than by holding a leadership contest.

I am going to seek every opportunity to galvanise not just my party, but this nation
John Swinney
However, he stressed that his contribution to the debate would be "positive and creative".

"Today people are disengaged from politics and the job of every politician is to re-engage them - to re-enlist them in the fight for a better Scotland and a better world," he said.

"Today, and every day, therefore, I am going to seek every opportunity to galvanise not just my party, but this nation."

Mr Swinney defended the decision to campaign in the May election on a policy of holding a referendum on independence if the SNP gained most seats.

He argued that this was the "clear and simple" route to the party's goal.

And he said planned changes to the party structure would reduce bureaucracy, strengthen internal democracy and free up branches to concentrate on local campaigning.

Glenn Campbell reports
"The death of an SNP activist brought together the rivals - but not for long."

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