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Thursday, January 8, 1998 Published at 16:01 GMT


Dewar to stand for Scottish parliament
image: [ Dewar: Wants to help the parliament earn Scots' trust ]
Dewar: Wants to help the parliament earn Scots' trust

The Scottish Secretary, Donald Dewar, has confirmed he will stand for the Scottish parliament, allowing him to run for the post of First Minister.

In a statement, Mr Dewar said: "For many years I have been a strong supporter of a Scottish parliament, committed and convinced of the need for radical reform within the United Kingdom.

"The relationship with the Government of the UK will be crucial. The new parliament must earn the confidence of Scots. If I can help in any way to achieve these aims as a member of the new parliament, I would very much want to do so."

The BBC's Scottish Political Editor, Brian Taylor, on why Mr Dewar, though clear favourite, is not guaranteed the job (2'09")
The other early favourite to become First Minister in the first Scottish parliament was the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook.

But earlier this week Mr Cook effectively ruled himself out of the contest when he said he would like to equal the post-war record of six years in his current job.

As the main party in Scotland, it is widely presumed Labour will lead the first parliament in the country since the Act of Union in 1707.

The new body will determine policy for areas including health, education, agriculture and the environment, when it sits for the first time in 2000.

In addition, the Scottish people voted for their parliament to have tax varying powers of 3p in the pound from the rate set by the UK parliament.

Decision expected

Mr Dewar must now give up his Westminster career to pursue politics closer to his home.

The MP for Glasgow Anniesland held the position of Labour's Chief Whip until the May General Election when he was appointed as Scottish Secretary.

His decision to stand in the Scottish parliament and almost certainly to go forward for the post of First Minister will surprise no one.

Mr Dewar's enthusiasm for devolution in the run-up to the referendum in Scotland was obvious and never tempered by the fact he was effectively doing himself out of a job.

Born in Glasgow, the son of a consultant dermatologist, Mr Dewar joined Labour in 1956.

After training as a lawyer, he first stood for election as MP for Aberdeen South in 1964 and was returned by the seat two years later.

He left parliament for eight years during the period when he split from his wife, but returned as MP for his present seat in 1978.

Mr Dewar never remarried after his wife, Alison, and his two children left him for his cabinet colleague Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine of Lairg.


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