YEOVIL MP David Laws has ruled himself out of running for the leadership of the Liberal Democrtas following the resignation of Sir Menzies Campbell.

"I am very sad that Menzies is standing down as Liberal Democrat Leader, though I fully understand and respect the reasons for his decision," he said.

"Menzies has always put the interests of the Party first, and I think that he was concerned that with a General Election being delayed to 2009 or 2010, the speculation about his age and leadership intentions would continue.

"Menzies always said that he would put the Party's interests first, and that is what he has sought to do this week.

"However, I think it is a pity that we appear to live in a country where experience and judgment are not given the weight they deserve. I believe that people should be judged on their abilities, and not just their age. There has been a distinctly ageist tone to some of the comment about Menzies Campbell, and this seems totally out of place in the 21st century."

And Mr Laws added: "I believe that the Party will now have an excellent choice between a number of high quality candidates for the leadership of the Party.

"I will announce who I am supporting when the candidates have announced their intentions to stand. I have decided not to put my own name forward for the leadership, but will instead concentrate on my work as local MP and on my new responsibilities as Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families."