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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 21:56 GMT 22:56 UK
McConnell pledge to remain leader
Jack McConnell
Mr McConnell said he was looking forward to scrutinising the SNP
Former first minister Jack McConnell has said he is committed to remaining the leader of Scottish Labour for as long as he thinks he "can be useful."

There had been speculation that Mr McConnell would be replaced following the party's Holyrood election defeat to the SNP.

But he told the BBC he still found the job of leader "very, very fulfilling".

Mr McConnell also said he "wasn't even going to speculate" on whether he would step down or face a challenger.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Scotland at Ten programme on Tuesday, he said he believed he still had an important job to do in opposition.

He added: "I care about Scotland, I care about what the parliament is doing and I care about its actions.

"In this position I have an opportunity to influence them [SNP] and for the moment that is very, very fulfilling - not as fulfilling as being first minister but still very fulfilling."

In this position I have an opportunity to influence them [SNP] and for the moment that is very, very fulfilling
Jack McConnell
Labour leader

Mr McConnell conceded that many within Labour had struggled to come to terms with the immediate aftermath of the election defeat, but said it was crucial the party quickly came to terms with finding itself in opposition.

He added: "I lead a party that got the votes of almost a third of Scots in May.

"We lost the election but we have a responsibility to those voters and to the people that Labour has always stood for, those with the least in our society, to make sure parliament doesn't ignore them.

"I am going to continue in my current role for as long as I think I can be useful in fighting that good fight and I am not even going to speculate what might come after that."

Mr McConnell rejected suggestions that he was expecting the minority SNP government to quickly collapse, allowing Labour a chance to return to power.

He said: "I don't think anybody should be predicting that. I think at times they will lose votes and they should be prepared to face up to that but that is not the same as them losing control over the government.

"We accept that we are in opposition and we are not just sitting back waiting to see whether Alex Salmond suddenly resigns and we can take over again. That is not our purpose."

The full interview with Jack McConnell

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