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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 January, 2004, 17:20 GMT
Canavan 'will not' rejoin Labour
Dennis Canavan
Dennis Canavan, MSP for Falkirk West
Former Labour MP Dennis Canavan has restated his firm pledge not to rejoin the party as long as Tony Blair remains leader.

Mr Canavan was expelled after standing as an independent at the Holyrood elections after failing to be selected as an official Labour candidate.

He was speaking after a Scots Labour MP called on party bosses to extend an olive branch to its former colleague.

"I have no intention of joining the Labour Party," he said.

'Good asset for Labour'

The 61-year-old added: "I made it absolutely clear three years ago I would not rejoin as long as Tony Blair is leader and that is still my position."

The snub to Labour comes as the party discusses whether to allow Mayor of London Ken Livingstone back in after his expulsion in 2000.

Speculation has mounted that Mr Canavan, who was expelled in 1999, may be asked to return later this year after serving a five-year ban.

Glasgow Govan MP Mohammed Sarwar has said that he was going to write to party chairman Ian McCartney urging Mr Canavan's re-instatement.

Dennis was a very good MP at Westminster and he would be a good asset for Labour in the Scottish Parliament
Mohammed Sarwar
He said: "If Ken Livingstone is taken back to the party then I find no reason why Dennis Canavan is not taken back to the party.

"Dennis was a very good MP at Westminster and he would be a good asset for Labour in the Scottish Parliament."

Mr Canavan, who refused to be drawn on whether he would rejoin the party if Tony Blair stood down as leader, added: "Whatever the position regarding Ken Livingstone it does not have any effect on my position."

The left-winger was first elected as MP for the old West Stirlingshire constituency in 1974 - later becoming Falkirk West MP - and held the seat until he resigned from the party in late 2000.

The former teacher's resignation was prompted by his failure to be selected as a Labour candidate at the Holyrood elections in 1999 and he subsequently ran as an independent.

He won the Falkirk West seat in the Scottish Parliament with a majority of 12,192 and was re-elected last year with a majority of 10,000.

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