Full statement: Jack McConnell
- 26 August 2010
- From the section Scotland
Former first minister Jack McConnell has announced he is to step down as an MSP. Here, in full, is his statement about his decision not to seek re-election.
I have tonight told the members of Motherwell and Wishaw CLP that I will not be putting myself forward for election at the May 2011 Scottish Parliament elections. My successor in the Constituency, and the Scottish Labour Party campaign, will have my full support in those elections.
I will be forever grateful to the many people locally and nationally who have helped me in the causes I have promoted, and the decisions I have made. Together we have made Scotland, and the constituency, better than they were on my election in 1999.
I have been an elected representative for most of the last 30 years and it is time to move on. I have been involved in national Scottish politics, including the creation of the Scottish Parliament and serving in Government, for most of those thirty years, and it is time for others to take Scotland forward now.
In my application to become a Labour candidate for the first Scottish Parliament elections I wrote that devolution would be judged not simply by the creation of the parliament, but by the ambitions we set out for Scotland and what the Parliament delivered for the people of Scotland.
It is that focus on ambition for Scotland, and on making a real difference, that has driven me over the last 30 years and will continue to drive me as I seek new challenges beyond the Scottish Parliament.
As a young councillor and political activist during the 1980s I argued for devolution, because I believed then, as I do now, that democratic renaissance would be good for Scotland.
In the 1990s, I worked alongside people from across the party divide to make the Parliament a reality, and for the last decade I have been proud to serve my nation - and the people of Motherwell and Wishaw - as a member of our young Parliament.
As Scotland's longest serving First Minister I focused my efforts on creating the right conditions so that the people of Scotland could flourish.
Growing the economy was my priority - moving Scotland on from the devastation of the 1980s to prosperity.
I knew we had to tackle Scotland's terrible health record - and that banning smoking in public was the right thing to do.
I challenged outdated prejudices - such as sectarianism, and stood up against anti social behaviour.
I put the future of our young people at the heart of our policy making - through the biggest school building programme our country has seen, the creation of the national youth volunteering programme Project Scotland and our efforts to support vulnerable youngsters.
And I wanted Scotland to look outwards, away from the introspection of the past, to find our place in the world as a modern entrepreneurial and multicultural nation.
When we left office in 2007, Scotland had more jobs, more people, and more confidence than could have been imagined a decade before. Services were better, economic investment was increasing, health was improving, our reforms were reducing crime and Scottish education was competing with the best in the world again.
Older Scots were warmer, more mobile and better cared for. Younger Scots had more choices and more chances. And in building a modern multicultural nation, we had refreshed our international image, and our population was increasing not declining.
As I enter the next decade - my 50's - I look forward to new challenges.
I will continue my work on peacebuilding - across the world post conflict reconstruction is the single biggest development challenge of our time.
The partnership between Scotland and Malawi will remain at the heart of my work - the link between our two countries is precious and shows that people united under a common moral purpose really can change the world.
I will continue to campaign to improve the life chances of vulnerable young people, whether here in Scotland or elsewhere.
And I will promote the vision of a modern multinational and multicultural United Kingdom, and speak up for devolution and diversity in the House of Lords.
I do not see this as end of Part One, more as the start of Part Two.
Throughout my career - from the classrooms of Lornshill Academy to Bute House, I have always tried to do the right thing.
I have made mistakes - we all do - but I believe I have served my country well and will continue to do my best in this new phase of my life.
It has been the greatest privilege. Thank you.