Monteith to stand down as MSP

FORMER Tory MSP Brian Monteith today ruled out standing as an independent in the Lothians at next year's Scottish Parliament elections.

He said he had considered bidding to get re-elected on an anti-trams ticket and had even received approaches from other parties.

But today Mr Monteith, 48, announced he would not be seeking to return to Holyrood next May.

Mr Monteith, 48, who lives in Edinburgh and used to run his own PR firm Leith Communications, said today: "I'm not intending to set up business, but I have some ideas for gainful employment."

Evening News columnist Mr Monteith, a list MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, resigned from the Tory group at Holyrood last year in a row over a leaked e-mail in which he urged a journalist to call for then Conservative leader David McLetchie to quit.

And he has since represented the area as an independent MSP and continued to chair the parliament's powerful audit committee.

He said: "I'm enjoying my liberation from partisan party politics. A number of parties have made informal approaches for me to fly their colours. Indeed, some people wished me to set up a new free enterprise party in Scotland.

"But I would rather return to commerce than be a one-man band swimming against the treacly tide of collectivism in the Scottish Parliament."

It is understood that Mr Monteith has been sounded out by both the United Kingdom Independence Party and the New Party, which includes some former Tory MSP colleagues who were defeated at the last Scottish Parliament elections.

He said: "I had considered whether to stand as an independent in Lothians, but I think it better people get behind Margo MacDonald if they want an independent MSP. It may have been possible to stand as an anti-trams candidate, but the Bills have been passed and the key decisions will now be taken by the council."

And he said he planned to continue political involvement through writing and would probably seek work in his former field of marketing and public relations. But he added: "I'm not ruling out returning to elected politics in the future. I'm not saying never, I'm just saying no."