Labour’s shadow cabinet rocked by resignation

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One of the more respected members of Labour’s front bench team at Holyrood has announced he is standing down. Malcolm Chisholm, MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith, has quit as education spokesman just a week after being appointed by Iain Gray.

It is understood that Mr Chisholm resigned after failing to get the Labour Party’s nod to chair the Parliament’s health committee.

According to a Labour Party statement, Mr Chisholm, 62, had “changed his mind” about serving on the front bench again.

He is a previous Minister for Health and Community Care in the Labour- Liberal Democrat government led by Jack McConnell, and resigned from the cabinet in 2006 after supporting an SNP motion on the non- replacement of Trident.

Mr Chisholm was also the only Labour MSP to support the SNP Government over the decision to return Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to Libya on compassionate grounds. He broke ranks with Labour again last year to vote for the SNP Government’s plan for minimum alcohol pricing.

He was the only Labour MSP to survive in Edinburgh at the elections, and is noted for being an assiduous constituency member as well as a quiet if principled politician who was first elected to the Westminster Parliament in 1992.

Among Holyrood-watchers there was immediate speculation that he may be considering a switch to the SNP, although colleagues say that is highly unlikely.

Ken Macintosh will now be Labour’s education spokesman while former tourism, culture and sports minister Patricia Ferguson replaces Macintosh with the culture brief.

There was no immediate statement from Mr Chisholm, but one is expected later