Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 16:41 UK

Labour MSP joins by-election race

margaret curran
Margaret Curran said she would stand as a candidate

Labour MSP Margaret Curran has announced she will stand as a candidate for the Glasgow East by-election after the frontrunner dropped out.

She added her name to the shortlist for the Westminster seat hours after leading contender George Ryan withdrew.

Mr Ryan failed to turn up for a selection meeting on Friday. He later cited family reasons for pulling out.

The July 24 by-election was triggered by Labour MP David Marshall's resignation on health grounds.

Potential candidates

The party will hold a meeting to choose a candidate on Monday.

Glasgow East was one of the safest Labour seats in Scotland at the last election, with a majority of more than 13,500 over the SNP.

The constituency also had the highest Labour vote share in the city at the General Election.

However, the party faces a tough fight after disastrous by-election results at Crewe and Nantwich and Henley, as well as the resignation of Wendy Alexander from the leadership of the Scottish Labour party.

Mr Marshall, 67, is stepping down after almost 30 years in the House of Commons.

Mr Ryan said he was removing his name from the shortlist of potential candidates "with regret".

He said: "In the last 24 hours, I have come to recognise the pressures that this campaign would put on my family life, and I have taken the decision to put my family first."

george ryan
George Ryan did not turn up for the selection meeting

Ms Curran, who represents Glasgow Ballieston at Holyrood, said she was "deeply committed" to the people of the city's east end.

She said: "The best interests of the residents of the east end will be served strongly by the candidate, and I think I am that person.

"I am hoping to be the Labour nominee in order that we have a spirited campaign in the by-election.

"I am doing it with enthusiasm and energy."

Ms Curran, who is Labour's health and wellbeing spokesman at Holyrood, was first elected to represent Glasgow Baillieston in 1999 and was re-elected in 2003 and again in 2007

Scottish National Party leader and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said Labour was in "complete meltdown".

He said: "This is their 'lost weekend' - they don't have a leader in Scotland, they don't have a candidate in Glasgow East, and they have a prime minister who refuses to come to the constituency.

"The combination of these extraordinary factors means that Labour have forfeited any right to represent the people of Glasgow East."

'Accidental candidate'

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "Labour is rudderless at Westminster, leaderless at Holyrood and treating the people of Glasgow with contempt.

"Labour's selection process has been a sham with one candidate walking away, two others ignored, a fourth, Stephen Purcell, apparently turning it down.

"And now rumours that Margaret Curran has been press-ganged into standing as Labour's reluctant and accidental candidate. You couldn't make it up."

Liberal Democrat campaign chairman Robert Brown said: "This shows that the Labour Party has entirely lost its way.

"Nobody knows what they stand for any more and therefore it is no surprise that they are finding it difficult to find a candidate."

Glasgow councillor John Mason has been chosen to represent the SNP.

Maths teacher Ian Robertson will represent the Lib Dems.

The Conservative candidate is Davena Rankin and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) has chosen former MSP, Frances Curran.

Solidarity announced that firebrand politician Tommy Sheridan would not be standing.

There was speculation that the former MSP would be selected to fight the Westminster seat for the left-wing party which he founded.

But the party announced local woman Tricia McLeish had been selected unopposed.

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Yorkshire Post Labour choosing for 'must-win' seat - 24 mins ago
Nottingham Evening Post Labour choosing for 'must-win' seat - 34 mins ago
Harrow Times Labour choosing for 'must-win' seat - 35 mins ago
Cambridge Evening News Labour choosing for 'must-win' seat - 50 mins ago
Kings Lynn News Labour choosing for 'must-win' seat - 1 hr ago

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