Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 14:57 UK

Curran considering leadership bid

Margaret Curran

Labour MSP Margaret Curran has said she is actively considering whether or not to enter the race to succeed Wendy Alexander as Scottish Labour leader.

The former minister said she had been urged to stand by party members, but refused to rule the move in or out.

Ms Alexander quit at the weekend amid the on-going row about donations to her leadership campaign.

The official process for selecting her successor is likely to get under way within the next few days.

Ms Curran, MSP for Glasgow Baillieston and currently Scottish Labour health spokeswoman, has been tipped as one of the front-runners to take the party forward, along with former health minister Andy Kerr and East Lothian MSP Iain Gray.

'New politics'

The party's deputy leader Cathy Jamieson said at the weekend she had not ruled out standing and Mr Gray, currently on holiday in Majorca, said he had been having discussions with colleagues on the issue.

Speaking as she visited an ambulance depot in Glasgow, Ms Curran, a former communities minister and minister for parliament, said: "I have received representations from party members throughout the country to think about it and it's under active consideration."

Meanwhile, former Labour first minister Henry McLeish said the new leader should ditch Ms Alexander's call for the SNP to "bring on" an immediate independence referendum.

And in a hands-off warning to Gordon Brown, he urged the prime minister to accept the "new politics" in Scotland and that a distinctive Scottish Labour perspective was needed to confront the SNP.

Ms Curran refused to be drawn on whether she wanted to see Ms Alexander's referendum position dropped, adding: "We'll have plenty of opportunities to discuss those matters during the summer period, which I'm looking forward to."

Wendy Alexander
Ms Alexander broke the rules on donations to her campaign

Ms Alexander resigned after the Scottish Parliament's standards committee last week ruled she had breached the rules over the late declaration of campaign donations on her MSP register of interests.

The committee recommended that MSPs should ban her from parliament for one day - a move MSPs will not vote on until Holyrood returns from the summer recess in September.

Ms Alexander insisted she followed the guidance of parliament officials over the donations, which she later declared following subsequent advice from independent standards watchdog Dr Jim Dyer.

The SNP said it was not worried about who succeeded her.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said Scottish Labour was in turmoil and rival factions were "fighting like ferrets in a sack".


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