Edinburgh swept by hushed euphoria as parties assemble their future pla ns

Scotland's historic vote; Rock singers join queue for parliamentary place
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Rock singers, media personalities, business leaders and radical left socialists will be jostling with the sharp professionals of the main political parties for the chance of a place in Scotland's new parliament.

With only 129 seat to play for and the growing realisation that it will be a "grown-up" parliament with a pounds 13bn budget, competition to get on the party lists in going to be fierce. Only the moribund Tory party is short of youthful or middle-aged talent. The system of proportional representation for the elections in 1999 could also open the door to minority parties such as the Greens.

A large raft of talented professionals will be vying for a place on Labour's list. Likely contenders include Keith Geddes, the leader of Edinburgh Council; the city's transport convenor David Begg loved and hated for his crusade against the car ; Jack McConnell, general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party; and Bill Speirs, deputy general secretary of the Scottish TUC.

The parliament is supposed be balanced between men and women, though precisely how parties achieve this yet to be worked out. Here again Labour is likely to have a surfeit of able contenders, including Esther Robertson and Isobel Lindsay, both leading figures in the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which drew up the blueprint for devolution, and Yvonne Strachan, Scottish organiser of the T&G union.

At least three former lead singers could be seeking a place on the Edinburgh political stage - Labour's Donnie Munro, from the gaelic rock band Runrig; Pat Kane, the firey left-wing nationalist from Hue and Cry; and the more youthful Ricky Roth from Deacon Blue.

The SNP may field the gaelic singer and academic Anne Lorne Gillies, who contested the Western Isles in the general election, and actress Elaine C Smith. Who better than the woman who plays `Mary Doll' in Rab C Nesbitt to wrest Rab C's stomping ground of Glasgow Govan from Labour?

The nationalists will be an impressive force in the new parliament with Alex Salmond leading his party from home soil. He is likely to joined by his five Westminster MPs and figures such as Mike Russell, the party's chief executive and one of the most consumate political operators in Scotland, and James Scott, a former top civil servant. Liberal Democrat MPs, including Jim Wallace, the party's leader in Scotland, are considering a move to Edinburgh.Andy Myles, the party's general secretary and a tireless advocate of Home Rule, would certainly be on the list.

Figures from the Scottish media could also be attracted, with columnist Magnus Linklater, former editor of the Scotsman an outside possibility,. or even the Scotsman's editor in chief, Andrew Neil. every parliament needs a trouble-making maverick.

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