Election '97: Health scare forces Scottish MP to quit

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The Independent Online
The Labour MP Willie McKelvey last night confirmed that he is standing down from the election race after a health scare. Mr McKelvey, 62, gave no details but is thought to have suffered a minor stroke last week. Friends said he had gone to hospital after feeling unwell while canvassing the previous day and tests showed he had suffered a minor stroke.

His departure means a candidacy contest for his Kilmarnock and Loudon seat in Ayrshire, seen by some as under threat from the Scottish National Party, over whom he had a majority of just under 7,000 in 1992. The former shop steward had held the seat since 1979. Possible contenders to succeed him include Mike Watson, the Glasgow Central MP whose seat has now vanished under boundary changes and Tom McCabe, leader of South Lanarkshire council.

Labour's Scottish spokesman, George Robertson, said that Mr McKelvey, who has been chairman of the all-party Scottish Select Committee since 1994, would be greatly missed as "one of the most popular and highly regarded of backbench MPs".