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McLeish resignation Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 18:27 GMT
Tory leader attacks contest
David McLetchie, Iain Duncan Smith and Annabel Goldie
Iain Duncan Smith (centre) rebuked Labour
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has criticised the contest which has seen Jack McConnell appointed Scotland's first minister.

Mr Duncan Smith said he was amazed that the Scottish Labour leader had been given a clear run by his party in the contest.

Mr McConnell replaced Henry McLeish as first minister after the latter resigned exactly two weeks ago over an expenses row.

The new leader of the Scottish Executive is the third person to hold the post since the Scottish Parliament's inception in 1999.

First Minister Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell: The new first minister

Mr Duncan Smith said the Labour leadership race was poorer for the fact that the party only fielded one candidate last week.

"I was amazed to see the choice was the man who was picked from the smoke-filled room.

"I thought we'd got rid of this ages ago. I've just stood for election from 320,000 people and had some candidates up against me.

Promised a visit

"I think it would have been better if it had been done like that - an open contest.

"But if they want to go backwards in time, that's fine."

Mr McConnell contested the vacant post with Scottish National Party Leader John Swinney, Scottish Tory Leader David McLetchie and Independent MSP Dennis Canavan.

The Conservative leader had travelled to Edinburgh at the invitation of Mr McLetchie and denied suggestions that he had "gatecrashed" the election contest.

"I was due to come up here. I promised to come up soon after my election, so this is the first of many visits. It isn't a one-off," he said.


I promised to come up soon after my election, so this is the first of many visits

Iain Duncan Smith

"I've just come to talk and have some discussions with David McLetchie and the Scottish Conservative Party generally.

"The Liberal Democrats sat on their hands and the SNP seemed to go to sleep on the issue.

"It was actually David McLetchie who hounded Henry McLeish and that's the reason we have today.

"If it wasn't for what they did, we wouldn't be looking at a new first minister."

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Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative leader
"It was one of those elections you arrive at knowing the result before the vote is cast"

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22 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
21 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
20 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
18 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
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