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Donald Dewar Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Two in fight to succeed Dewar
Leadership graphic
Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell have announced that they are to stand for election as leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

Enterprise Minister Mr McLeish and Mr McConnell, the Finance Minister, announced the move less than 24 hours after the funeral of late party leader and First Minister Donald Dewar.

Mr McLeish, the 52-year-old MSP and MP for Fife Central, said he would fight the contest on the key issues of child poverty, job creation and integrity.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell has thrown his hat into the ring
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Mr McConnell, 40, was the first to declare and outlined social justice, openness and equality as pivotal policy commitments.

Mr McConnell, a former party general secretary, council leader and maths teacher, said : "This is the election no-one wanted. Donald Dewar is irreplaceable.

"But we now have the responsibility for ensuring the Scottish Parliament matures into a lasting testament in leadership, campaigning and policy development."

Mr McLeish, an MP since 1987and a former council leader and professional footballer, highlighted his political experience when he launched his campaign and said integrity would be his buzz word.

He said: "There are big issues that we're now, for the time in a generation, going to be able to solve.

"One is child poverty and the other is the prospect of giving everyone in Scotland a job.

Period of mourning

"But I think the bigger mission is to make sure the project works and being in at the foundations I'm determined that, if successful, I want to achieve that."

Both men were widely tipped as the prime candidates for the position and ultimately that of first minister in the Scottish Parliament.

However, much of the talk of an inevitable leadership battle was avoided during the week-long period of mourning for Mr Dewar, who died last week and who was buried on Wednesday.

The two candidates have less than 48 hours to campaign before party members meet on Saturday in Stirling to choose an interim leader.

The tight timescale is necessary because, under the Scotland Act, a new first minister must be appointed within 28 days of Mr Dewar's death.

Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish is highlighting his political experience
Labour's own rules state that the top job should be filled by an electoral college procedure, where votes are split between MPs and MSPs, trade unions and ordinary party members.

But the tight timescale has forced the party to adopt a different procedure.

An interim leader will be chosen at a meeting of the 27 voting members of the executive committee of the Scottish Labour Party and the 54-strong Scottish parliamentary Labour group.

The election will take the form of a secret ballot with nominations from the floor.

Labour's interim leader will be elected first minister - provided the Liberal Democrat MSPs in the coalition support Labour.

Coalition partners

However, this interim first minister will still have to be confirmed by Labour's full-scale electoral college.

It is expected that whoever wins the first contest will face a second challenge from a Labour back-bencher at this stage.

The electoral college will also elect a deputy leader.

Jim Wallace, leader of Labour's Scottish Liberal Democrat coalition partners, stepped up from deputy leader to take on the position of acting first minister after Mr Dewar's death.

Mr Wallace, who also performed the role when Mr Dewar underwent heart surgery earlier in the year, will step down when the majority party elects its new leader.

BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor
"Mr McLeish starts favourite, with most Scottish cabinet support"
Chief political correspondent John Morrison
"The new interim leader will go forward for selection as first minister"

A man's a man
An audio tribute to Donald Dewar
AUDIO/VIDEO  real 14k
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Key stories

The tributes

Filling the void


See also:

19 Oct 00 | Donald Dewar
19 Oct 00 | Donald Dewar
13 Oct 00 | Donald Dewar
13 Oct 00 | Donald Dewar
13 Oct 00 | Donald Dewar
27 Apr 00 | Scotland
29 Oct 99 | Scotland
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