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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Second term for McConnell
Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell was emotional accepting his nomination

Jack McConnell has been re-elected as the first minister of Scotland.

The Labour leader fought off six challengers to retain the post he held before the Scottish Parliament election.

In his speech, the member for Motherwell and Wishaw told MSPs that he was "impatient for change".

He also became emotional as he paid tribute to his nephew, who was seriously injured in a road accident during the election campaign.

Backing from Labour and his party's coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, secured his appointment by 67 votes out of the 127 cast.

All those seeking the top job had the chance to argue their case before the newly-elected parliament on Thursday afternoon.

Second term

In his speech, Mr McConnell said that the lessons of the parliament's first term would not be forgotten.

"Now we will move on," he told the parliament.

"For this second term, there will be no 'business as usual' or simply 'more of the same'.

It is a good deal for Scotland's schools, Scotland's health service, our enterprising economy and our environment
Jim Wallace
Lib Dem leader

"People are impatient for change and I am too."

Mr McConnell said good progress was being made on the priorities he identified when elected first minister 18 months ago - education, health, crime, transport and jobs.

"But there is so much more to be done. The work will go on, but the work will be smarter, quicker and sharper," he said.

"We have reached a turning point. In the first term of this parliament we saw devolution develop in Scotland. In the second term of this parliament devolution must deliver for Scotland."

He also said that he would not be afraid to speak up on issues like sectarianism, racism, the environment and the gap between rich and poor.

Holyrood's nominee

Mr McConnell defeated the leaders of the Scottish National Party, the Conservatives and the Scottish Socialist Party in the vote.

He had also faced a challenge from Green MSP Robin Harper and independents Margo MacDonald and Dennis Canavan.

His success confirmed Mr McConnell as Holyrood's nominee for first minister.

The Queen is due to give him the royal seal of approval at an audience in London on Monday.

Mr McConnell will be sworn into office by judges at the Court of Session before picking his cabinet team.

Power to intervene in failing schools and hospitals
Proportional representation for local government
Scrapping of health trusts
Free eye and dental checks
Class sizes cut to 20 for S1 and S2 Maths and English
Scrapping school tests for five to 14-year-olds
Review of Skye Bridge tolls

The other votes cast in the nominations were 26 for SNP leader John Swinney, 18 for Tory leader David McLetchie, six for the Green's Robin Harper, six for Socialist leader Tommy Sheridan and two each for independents Dennis Canavan and Margo MacDonald.

It is expected that Lib Dem leader Jim Wallace will again fill the role of deputy first minister.

He and Mr McConnell formally signed the partnership pact between the two parties on Thursday morning.

Mr Wallace said he was delighted with the result of the "tough but at all times fair" negotiations.

"I believe this is a good agreement for the Liberal Democrats and for Labour, but most importantly it is a good deal for Scotland's schools, Scotland's health service, our enterprising economy and our environment," he said.

Before he finished, an emotional Jack McConnell paid tribute to his grandmother and his nephew, who was in a coma during the election campaign.

Bridget McConnell and Jack McConnell's nephew Michael
During the election campaign my nephew spent 10 days in a coma and he's here and he's alive and I'm very pleased
Jack McConnell,
First minister

"The last time I was elected first minister my grandmother wisnae here and she is today," he said.

Mr McConnell then apologised and broke off from his speech to take a drink of water as he fought back tears.

With his voice breaking he pressed on: "During the election campaign my nephew spent 10 days in a coma and he's here and he's alive and I'm very pleased."

Michael McLuckie, 14, the son of Mr McConnell's brother-in-law, Robert, was involved in a serious road accident at the beginning of the campaign.

Making his challenge, Scottish National Party leader John Swinney said he would support good government: "We all have to make sure that the Scottish Parliament delivers on the expectations and ambitions of people in Scotland.

"Some of us believe we will only do that when we can truly tackle the root causes and problems that exist within our country with a Parliament that has the power to do it.

Tory leader David McLetchie said the election would result in "another small army of ministers" to continue the "over-government" of Scotland.

There was laughter in the chamber as he poked fun at executive plans for "national frameworks" on safe walking, healthy eating, alcohol drinking and sexual health.

Earlier, independent Dennis Canavan had promised to share the first minister post with Margo MacDonald if elected, while the Green's Robin Harper warned against "ecological suicide".

And the Scottish Socialist Party's Tommy Sheridan attacked what he called Labour's failure to tackle inequality and poverty.

The coalition deal passed its final hurdle on Wednesday night when a council of 100 Liberal Democrats formally agreed to coalition government with Labour.

The agreement included a commitment to the Lib Dem policy of voting reform for council elections as well as Labour moves towards a hard line on youth crime.

BBC Scotland's Brian Taylor
"Jack McConnell's colleagues were there to applaud and praise"

BBC Scotland's John Knox
"Jack McConnell himself was at the end pretty overcome"

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An at-a-glance guide to the parties key policies

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Coalition deal: At-a-glance
15 May 03  |  Scotland


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