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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Two in frame for Lib Dem position
Jim Wallace's decision to stand down as leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland has signalled the start of a leadership contest.

BBC Scotland's news website looks at the possible contenders.


NICOL STEPHEN - ABERDEEN SOUTH MSP

The current minister for transport was elected MSP for Aberdeen South at the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999 and joined Jack McConnell's ministerial team in May 2003.

He accepted a salary of 72,000 per annum, as opposed to the full rate of 86,000.

Nicol Stephen
It was claimed at the time that this was a good way of cutting the costs of government on junior portfolios.

However, the arrangement attracted some surprise from the opposition. The Scottish National Party dismissed Mr Stephen and Labour's Frank McAveety as "sort-of" cabinet ministers and "senior/juniors" and the Tories said it was more of the main course and less of the trimmings.

Before a career at Holyrood, Mr Stephen, 45, was educated at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen where he went on to study law at Aberdeen University.

After obtaining his law qualifications in 1981 he was a trainee solicitor with C&PH Chalmers.

He went on to become a senior manager with Touche Ross Corporate Finance and between 1992 and 1999 he was director of Glassbox Ltd.

He also briefly served as an MP from 1991-92 in Kincardine and Deeside, having won what was regarded as a safe Conservative seat at a by-election.

However, he has already been endorsed by several party colleagues - most notably Deputy Finance Minister Tavish Scott, who has previously been tipped as a future party leader.

MIKE RUMBLES - WEST ABERDEENSHIRE AND KINCARDINE

Sandhurst trained Mike Rumbles was elected MSP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine in 1999.

The 48-year-old, who is currently Lib Dem spokesman on health, said recently that he hoped Mr Wallace would not take the Lib Dems into a third coalition with Labour.

"If the Liberal Democrats signed a third coalition agreement with Labour, there would be a leadership challenge," he predicted.

Mike Rumbles

His position as convener of the standards and privileges committee meant he had to preside over the so-called "Lobbygate" affair inquiry which involved allegations surrounding a PR company and access to ministers.

Another tricky situation arose in March 2001 when he was called upon to defend the Lib Dems' actions over compensation payments for the fishing industry.

Four of the party's MSPs voted against the executive, resulting in the first parliamentary defeat for the ruling coalition.

Mr Rumbles denied the party had been misleading or had put the "programme of government" partnership agreement under threat.

He was educated in County Durham and at Sunderland Polytechnic.

From 1979 to 1980 he was with the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He went on to study for an MSc in economics at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth.

Mr Rumbles worked in the training services of the British Army and was a team leader in business management at Aberdeen College.


SEE ALSO:
Lib Dem leader Wallace steps down
09 May 05 |  Scotland


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