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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
McLeish resignation statement
Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish said his record speaks for itself
Scotland's former First Minister Henry McLeish has announced his intention to stand down as an MSP and retire from politics after 30 years.

Mr McLeish released a statement on Thursday to explain his decision.

After 30 years experience of fighting elections, and 28 in public office, I am today announcing my intention to withdraw from elected politics.

I will not stand in the forthcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections. I have, of course, informed my local party.

Successively in local government, at Westminster and in the Scottish Parliament, I worked for the people I knew and grew up with and did my best to serve them.

Public service has been my life. I first became a councillor in Kirkcaldy District in 1974, then led Fife Regional Council from 1982 to 1987.


I will be reading and writing, teaching and lecturing and there will be projects I can take forward

I was elected to serve in Westminster in 1987.

Ten years later, with a Labour Government in power and honouring its commitment to Scottish devolution, I chaired the consultative steering group whose work led to the delivery of our new parliament in 1999.

Devolution is now a reality and, had I done nothing else in politics, I would still be proud of the role I played in establishing Scotland's parliament.

It fell to me, in tragic circumstances no-one would have foreseen, to take on the office of first minister. This was an honour and a privilege.

In my time as first minister, much was achieved: in building consensus and coalition politics in the parliament; strengthening links with business, trades unions and civic Scotland; and giving a distinctive edge to the emerging role of Scottish government within the UK.

'Full responsibility'

I believe that my record of achievement - free personal care for older Scots; the new deal for teachers; the reform of the quango state and much else - speaks for itself.

Over the course of my 12 months in Scotland's highest elected post, devolved government established itself more securely than ever, with a new sense of purpose, aspiration and self-belief.

Scotland's international profile was raised by our work towards Euro 2008; by securing the hosting of the Ryder Cup; developing the USA's Tartan Day; by the new ferry link to Europe and by serious policy thinking on Scotland's role within the UK, within Europe and then in the wider world.

I was privileged to serve the people of Scotland in the role of first minister and was deeply saddened when I had to step aside.

Henry McLeish
"I and my family have endured much"

At the time I took full responsibility for the events that led to that decision and, by doing so, I enabled the parliament and the executive to get on with its work without distractions and recriminations.

Over the months since then I and my family have endured much: intrusions on our privacy; persistent insinuations about matters which have been dealt with; and continuing unacceptable pressures.

But nothing in the last eight months detracts in any substantial way from the pride I take in a far larger record of service and achievement; the continuing support of colleagues and friends; and the many, many people from Fife and more widely across Scotland who have written, e-mailed and telephoned since November.

I am especially grateful for the continued backing of my constituents in Central Fife, who have consistently supported me.

I will continue to serve them - to my last day as an MSP - and hope in future to serve them in other ways.

'Change of direction'

When I look back over the three decades that I have been in public service I am proud of what I have achieved.

I think anyone would find it difficult to give up politics after 30 years of public service.

But politics is about more than elected office and I plan to remain active in Scottish life.

I will be reading and writing, teaching and lecturing and there will be projects I can take forward which I hope will continue my contribution to our social and economic advancement.

But this statement signifies a change of direction and a positive move to other forms of service, and formally confirms my intention to withdraw from elected office.

I will be making no further comment at this stage.


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05 Sep 02 | Scotland
07 Mar 02 | Scotland
06 Mar 02 | Scotland
08 Feb 02 | Scotland
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
08 Nov 01 | Scotland
06 Nov 01 | Scotland
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