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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 19:38 GMT
Tories embark on leadership hunt
Holyrood Tory group
Details of the selection process were being finalised at Holyrood
Senior Scottish Conservatives have agreed details of a timetable for the election of a new leader.

The resignation of David McLetchie on Monday took many party members by surprise following a grassroots vote of confidence at the weekend.

It is thought the procedure will depend on how many Holyrood party members put themselves forward. The proposals will now go to the party's executive.

Mr McLetchie quit after continued pressure over his expenses claims.

The former leader had misclaimed for two trips and when standing down he stressed a commitment to fully reimburse any others he had claimed in error.

Instinct tells me that they want this quick, they want it clear, they want it concise and they want it over as soon as possible
Brian Taylor
BBC Scotland political editor

Members of the Conservative Party already face a choice between David Cameron and David Davis as their Westminster leader.

Now senior figures have been deciding how to go about electing Mr McLetchie's successor, which could run in tandem with the Westminster contest, expected in early December.

Deputy leader Annabel Goldie has taken over the running of the party for now, but could face a challenge from Ted Brocklebank, Murdo Fraser, Bill Aitken, Brian Monteith and Alex Johnstone.

Ms Goldie chaired a meeting of the Tory MSPs on Tuesday evening, which considered the timing and approach to an election.

Review options

A later meeting of senior figures will draw up more concrete plans.

Ms Goldie said: "We have had a very constructive meeting, principally to determine the form and the structures which are necessary to then provide for how we deal with the leadership succession to David."

Earlier, Mr Brocklebank said he was "ruling nothing in or nothing out" but added that he would support Ms Goldie if she wanted to take on the role full-time.

"If others decided that they wished to contest the leadership I would obviously review the options," he said.

Annabel Goldie
Ms Goldie has received backing to take on the role

Mr Johnstone said he wanted Mr Fraser to go for the leadership.

"He has the youth and vigour so many people in the party believe is important for the UK party leadership," he said.

"He has energy and ambition and can take this party up where it deserves to be."

However, he refused to rule himself out if his preferred candidate decided not to stand.

BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor said he believed there would be a contest, most likely between Mr Fraser and Ms Goldie.

He said: "They're keeping a timetable to themselves until it goes to their executive, they're keeping it until they announce it in detail tomorrow.

"But instinct tells me that they want this quick, they want it clear and they want it concise, they want it over as soon as possible, in other words by early December.

"Instinct also tells me that whatever they do with regard to nominations, closing dates and whatever, they will go for a full postal ballot of the membership."

Tories meet to hammer out an election agenda

McLetchie resigns as Tory leader
31 Oct 05 |  Scotland
In quotes: McLetchie steps down
31 Oct 05 |  Scotland
McLetchie 'reviews' taxi expenses
26 Oct 05 |  Scotland
McLetchie expenses 'misclaimed'
14 Oct 05 |  Scotland
McLetchie taxi details revealed
07 Oct 05 |  Scotland


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