Ken Macintosh has been elected as Scottish Parliament’s new Presiding Officer and immediately pledged to bring about reform at Holyrood.
Mr Macintosh will now resign as a member of the Labour party after beating off competition from his former colleagues Johann Lamont and Elaine Smith, as well as Tories John Scott and Murdo Fraser in a vote at Holyrood today.
The contest went to a third vote which saw Mr Macintosh prevail with 71 votes, while Mr Fraser took 31 and Ms Lamont got 26 votes. Ms Smith and Mr Scott had been eliminated in earlier rounds.
Mr Macintosh was immediately congratulated by Nicola Sturgeon and the other party leaders as he made his way to the Presiding Officer’s chair following this afternoon’s vote to replace the outgoing post holder Tricia Marwick.
The 54-year-old, who lost out to Kezia Dugdale in the Labour leadership race last year, said Ms Marwick should take “pride” in the distinction she has served as an MSP over the past 17 years.
He added: “And pride to that she had the courage as Presiding Officer to begin the process of Parliamentary reform - a process I would be honoured to follow in her footsteps.”
The new Presiding Officer wants to see a shake-up of Holyrood’s much criticised committees amid concerns that the SNP majority in the last Parliament saw them dominated by Nationalists and meant criticism of Alex Salmond’s Government was tempered.
Mr Macintosh hailed the new intake of MSPs, which he dubbed the “class of 2016.”
He added; “On a personal level, the energy, the enthusiasm, the optimism with which you have filled this building already in the few days you have been here has invigorated me, it has refreshed this place and reminded us all of the opportunities that the Scottish Parliament offers us to make a better Scotland.”
Ms Dugdale welcomed her former colleague’s appointment.
She said: “As someone who was elected in 1999, Ken has the experience and skill to guide us through a parliamentary session that will be dominated by cross-party co-operation. I know Ken will perform his role in an even-handed, impartial way. He will be a strong advocate for reform and for ensuring the Scottish Parliament is effective in holding the government to account.”