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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 21:19 GMT 22:19 UK

After the campaign rush

Elections candidates are thrust into the spotlight during the lead-up to the vote.

But what happens once the votes are cast, the winners are announced and the defeated hopefuls return to the background?

BBC News Online Scotland targeted Dunfermline, the Fife town which was Scotland's capital for more than 500 years.

We spoke to candidates from the four main parties who fought seats last time round to see what they have been up to over the last four years.

Labour's Rachel Squire held the Dunfermline West seat, which she has represented since 1992, with a majority of 33.9%.

Liberal Democrat Liz Harris took third place behind the Scottish National Party, with Tory Kevin Newton in fourth.

Meanwhile, SNP candidate John Ramage came second to Chancellor Gordon Brown in the neighbouring constituency of Dunfermline East.

After 18 years in opposition - the last five of them as a Labour MP - Rachel Squire admitted that being in government took a few days to sink in.

"In the first few weeks, when I woke up in the morning and turned on the radio the journalist would say 'The government today announced...'

"I had to remind myself that it was a Labour government after thinking, what are the Tories up to now?"

Life in government has meant many other changes - including the need to spend more time at Westminster.

"I have had to spend four days a week at Westminster, and the hours have been very long at times," she explained.

"In opposition, even if you knew that something was going to be debated all night long, many of us were able to get away at 10pm and leave old-timers like Dennis Skinner and Tam Dalyell to keep the Tories up all night.

"Now the tables have turned and half a dozen Tories are able to keep us up all night long.

"It has meant long hours and more time at Westminster, but on the good side it has given me far more involvement in all aspects of legislation."

Since 1997 she has been Parliamentary Private Secretary in the education and employment department, first for Stephen Byers and then for Estelle Morris.

" I had to remind myself that it was a Labour government "
Rachel Squire

She also chaired the select committee working on the Armed Forces Bill, which reviews military discipline and legislation every five years.

She said there had not been any noticeable difference in the workload from her constituents, who still approached her on a whole range of issues - with housing and social security the two main topics.

On a local level, she said the biggest issues over the last four years had included the moves to ensure that the Rosyth Dockyard received its allocated workload and that new jobs and businesses were brought into the neighbouring former naval base.

She said it has also been "very rewarding" to see that the long-term future of Scotland's last deep mine at Longannet had been secured - after what she described as a good partnership between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.

Like all election candidates, Scottish National Party candidate John Ramage had hoped the election would lead him to a new job at Westminster.

Despite standing against Gordon Brown in a safe Labour seat, the father-of-one did soon find himself working in England.

But it was not politics which brought the 52-year-old south of the Border - it was a new job which followed his election defeat.

Mr Ramage admitted to being pleased to have taken the SNP from third to second place in the seat, which remained in the chancellor's hands.

Mr Ramage was an IT consultant at the time of the election, and since then has spent three years working in Gloucestershire and Swindon.

"I had been a councillor on Tayside Regional Council and then Perth and Kinross Council and I needed to earn some money - and that was where the money was," he admitted.

"But because Scotland's economy is slightly more buoyant than it was then, I am now working for the Bank of New York in Edinburgh."

He was also able to move back to Milnathort after taking up the post of IT manager with the US company.

However, his political ambitions have not been diminished.

"I am 52 now, and I am hoping that when I am 55 I can retire and devote more time to politics in general.

" I would do anything that could make a change to people's lives because that's why I got involved in politics in the first place "
John Ramage

"I would hope that by then I wouldn't have to think about a British parliament," he said.

He admitted that he could make more money outside politics, but would still consider standing as an MSP in the future.

"I would do anything that could make a change to people's lives because that's why I got involved in politics in the first place."

And he stressed he had not lost touch with Scottish politics during his time in England.

"During that time I have still been writing to the local Fife papers," he said.

"I have always been a member of the party and because of the internet I don't find it difficult to keep up with everything that's going on."

Back in 1997, Kevin Newton was among the youngest candidates in Scotland when he stood for the first time in Dunfermline West.

Although disappointed to finish fourth with just over 4,600 votes, the Tory hopeful said he had gone into the contest with his eyes open.

"I wasn't dumb enough to think that I had a chance of winning it, but we were all disappointed with the result nationally," said the 28-year-old.

However, the defeat did not dent his political involvement.

"You have to accept defeat in politics," he said.

"You just pick yourself up, dust yourself down and get on with the next fight."

He went on to be constituency chairman for a couple of years and acted as agent for Scottish Parliament candidate Jim Mackie in 1999.

Outwith the party, his political work has also taken him to eastern Europe.

He has made a number of trips to countries such as Belarus, Azerbaijan and Russia to offer advice and training to those working for democratic parties through the European Young Conservatives organisation.

He said most of the people he had dealt with were young and shared his beliefs.

He said they were fired up - and up against it in their home countries.

"That to me is tremendously rewarding - working with people who take quite considerable risks in their political life.

"In Belarus a good friend of mine is a distributor of a newspaper.

" That to me is tremendously rewarding - working with people who take quite considerable risks in their political life "
Kevin Newton

"I spoke to her and her flat had been raided by the secret police and her computer hard drive had been taken," he said.

"It has been very rewarding to go out there and tell them a bit more about politics and point them in the right direction."

Away from politics he runs a caravan park in the Borders and is working on a project to create holiday cottages.

He has also used his land in the Ettrick Valley to indulge an unusual "childhood passion" - alpacas.

He became one of the first people in Scotland to breed this close relative of the llama, whose hair is used for both wool and cloth.

He returned to the electoral fray this year as the party's candidate in Clydesdale.

Liz Harris is another candidate whose political activities were far from diminished by her election defeat.

The long-serving Liberal Democrat councillor has held Dunfermline's Brucefield and Nethertown seat in its various guises since 1984.

She said she had been pleased with her showing in 1997, when she secured more than 13% of the vote.

"We held and slightly improved our position in percentage terms, and we continued to go on and hold our seats in the next local government election," she said.

In 1997 she was the deputy leader of the party, which provides the main opposition to Labour on Fife Council.

Two years later she became leader after colleague Iain Smith swapped Glenrothes for Edinburgh to take up a seat in the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Harris stood herself in Dunfermline West, but finished third and failed to secure an MSP's slot from the list votes.

As a local councillor, she has fought for funding for the Appin Crescent bypass in Dunfermline, and has seen the completion of the long-delayed Bothwell Street roads project.

On a council-wide level, she has also been involved in campaigning for more cash from the Scottish Executive.

"I have also been working with the health board to look at cost-cutting issues that will affect the whole of Fife as a result of decisions being made in the parliament," she said.

" We have in the last 18 months had a very positive effect on the council "
Liz Harris

She said the impact of the decisions being made at Holyrood had been the main issue for the council over the last couple of years.

"Although we do get criticised for not opposing absolutely everything that the council does, we have in the last 18 months had a very positive effect on the council," she said.

Ms Harris is also cultural affairs spokeswoman for Cosla.

She had previously stood for Westminster in 1987 and 1992, but the creation of the Scottish Parliament has ended her ambitions of standing as an MP.

She said the subjects in which her main interests lay - such as education, health and housing - were all matters for Holyrood.

"If I was going to stand again I would prefer to stand for Holyrood for that reason," she said.

Ms Harris also holds down a full-time job as an education officer with a conservation organisation.

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