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Elizabeth Quigley, Political Correspondent
"A week has certainly been a long time in politics for Donald Dewar"
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BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor reports
"The notion of Robin Cook taking over has been rejected"
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Tuesday, 1 February, 2000, 14:39 GMT
Dewar dismisses resignation calls

Donald Dewar Mr Dewar hopes to be judged on his achievements

Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar has dismissed calls for his resignation.

In an exclusive interview with BBC Scotland, Mr Dewar spoke about the controversy over his special advisers and whether his ability to lead was in question.

He said there was "no vacancy" at the top, although he added that he would wait and see before deciding whether to stand for a second term.

There has been criticism, even from members of his own party, over the role of his special advisers.

What is more important in judging an administration? Getting it right for student finance, or the kind of storm that's blowing?
Donald Dewar
Philip Chalmers was forced to go after drink-related motoring offences came to light, while Mr Dewar's media adviser David Whitton had to apologise publicly over allegations about ousted adviser John Rafferty.

Labour party officials fear the successful deal on student finance was eclipsed by the furore.

Mr Dewar said: "I volunteered for this job. I'm very proud of having it.

"I think the Scottish Parliament and the achievements of the last two years have changed the face of British politics and it's my job now to continue the work and lead us forward from this point.

"And I have every intention of going on doing that."

David Whitton David Whitton: Forced to apologise
On the storm over the role of his advisers, he said: "Let me just make it clear. At the end of the day I take responsibility. I'm the head of the house.

"But also let me say that I believe that the administration will be judged on what we've done on student fees, on what we've done on the education, what we've done for the health service.

"Major issues of policy that I think we're doing very good, solid work on a progressive basis.

"This week we have pulled off, I think, a remarkable coup.

"Its in the interests of Scottish students - which is why it is important.

Education access

"You will remember that right from the beginning people said Cubie was the rock on which the administration would perish.

"There is a scheme which meets the Cubie criteria, it puts a great deal of money into widening access, it gives 50% exemptions to Scottish students, and it ploughs 50m into graduate finance in Scotland.

"If you say to me, what's more important, the tragic and indefensible incident involving one of the members of my staff - something I regret in every sense.

"But what is more important in judging an administration? Getting it right for student finance, or the kind of storm that's blowing?"

Meanwhile, Labour dismissed newspaper reports that Foreign Secretary Robin Cook could be set to succeed Mr Dewar at the Scottish Executive.

A party spokesman said: "Donald Dewar is First Minister, Robin Cook is Foreign Secretary, both are doing their jobs extremely well and this is just fantasy speculation."

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See also:
30 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Labour MP attacks Dewar
28 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Dewar goes on the offensive
27 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Dewar dismay over fresh adviser row
26 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Dewar's woe as spin doctor apologises
25 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Second Dewar aide quits
07 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Rafferty refutes dossier 'threat'
13 Dec 99 |  Scotland
'No debate' on Rafferty sacking
05 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Minister dismisses 'spin doctor' row
13 May 99 |  News
Scotland's PM in waiting
20 May 99 |  UK Politics
Who's who in the Scottish Cabinet

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