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banner Saturday, 17 November, 2001, 09:32 GMT
Scottish Labour in leadership vote
Jack and Bridget McConnell
Jack McConnell and his wife Bridget held a media conference
Jack McConnell is preparing to make a plea for unity as he asks colleagues to confirm him as the Scottish Labour party's new leader.

The education minister was the only candidate for the job of succeeding Henry McLeish following his resignation as first minister.

MSPs and the party's Scottish executive will be asked to vote in an affirmatory ballot in Glasgow on Saturday.

Mr McConnell must secure 50% of their votes to be crowned as the party's new leader and first minister elect.

Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish resigned as first minister
That process is expected to be a formality - but it comes as newspapers were being warned to act responsibly in their coverage.

Party sources say some editors have gone to ridiculous extremes in pursuit of stories.

One Sunday newspaper is believed to be considering printing an article about Mr McConnell's private life.

However, Mr McConnell's spokesman said allegations involved were completely false.

Last week the education minister held a media conference where he admitted having an extramarital affair with a party colleague seven years earlier.

Labour ballot

It later emerged that he appealed to MPs for cash to help pay the wages of the woman he had an affair with in the early 1990s.

However, Labour insisted that the request for 100 from each MP came from the party as a whole.

Mr McConnell's 54 fellow Labour MSPs and the 29 members of the party's executive will take part in Saturday's ballot at the party's Scottish headquarters.

Before the vote the education minister is expected to make a passionate plea to MSPs for party unity.

If the result is as expected, Mr McConnell is likely to be nominated as Labour's candidate for first minister on Thursday, when a vote will be held in the Scottish Parliament.

See also:

14 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
Date set for Labour leader vote
13 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
McConnell alone in leadership fight
10 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
Deacon rules herself out of contest
09 Nov 01 | Scotland
Search begins for new first minister
11 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
Trade union warns leadership hopefuls
Links to more McLeish resignation stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more McLeish resignation stories