Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Scottish election: Labour leader Iain Gray to quit

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has announced he will quit the job, after the SNP's stunning victory in the Scottish Parliament elections.

He said he would stand down from the post he has held since 2008 in the autumn, after instigating "root and branch reform" of his party.

Mr Gray held onto his East Lothian seat in the Scottish Parliament, but by just 151 votes.

The party lost seats in key Labour heartlands across Scotland.

Scottish Labour finance spokesman Andy Kerr and former minister Tom McCabe were among the casualties, losing to the SNP in the west of Scotland.

"These are very bad results," said Mr Gray, as the results came in, adding: "My heart goes out to colleagues who have lost their seats."

Later, Mr Gray said he had congratulated Mr Salmond on the result, adding: "The Scottish electorate has spoken and given a clear result which the Labour Party acknowledges.

"There are many hard lessons we must take forward from this election, not least my own responsibility and role as the Scottish Labour Leader.

"After consulting with colleagues I have decided to stay on until the autumn as we conduct a fundamental and radical reappraisal of the structure and direction of Scottish Labour."

Mr Gray left a career in teaching and foreign aid work for a life in politics more than a decade ago.

He was first elected to the Scottish Parliament 1999, holding four ministerial posts for the Labour-led government, including enterprise, transport and lifelong learning.

After losing his Edinburgh seat to the Tories in the 2003 election, he spent four years working as a special adviser to the then Scottish secretary, Alistair Darling, before returning to Holyrood in 2007 following a successful election campaign in East Lothian.

He held the post of Labour's shadow finance secretary before taking over the party leadership from Wendy Alexander, during what was a torrid time for the party.

Ms Alexander had quit amid an on-going row over donations to her leadership campaign.

Before entering politics, Mr Gray taught maths and physics in Edinburgh, as well as teaching in an agricultural technical school in Mozambique during the civil war.

In one of the most infamous incidents of the Holyrood election campaign, Mr Gray was forced to cancel an election campaign event at Glasgow Central train station, after it was hijacked by rowdy protesters.

In an incident played out in front of the TV cameras, he took refuge in a sandwich shop, before later declaring at the time: "I've worked before for two years in a civil war. I've been in Rwanda just after the genocide.

"I've walked the killing fields of Cambodia and I was in Chile three days after Pinochet demitted office.

"I've been a lot of places, seen a lot of things - that certainly wasn't the worst of them."

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