Former First Minister Jack McConnell is to take the helm at a Scots think tank.

The Labour peer has been announced as the new chairman of Reform Scotland today.

He will take over from Alan McFarlane, who steps down after seven years chairing public policy organisation based in Edinburgh.

Lord McConnell said that there is a need to bring forward new policy dieas in Scotland following the pandemic, and said: "Over centuries, Scotland has contributed some of the most important ideas and inventions the world has ever seen. But we cannot rest on the past.

“If we are to meet the challenges of the 21st century our ambitions need to be high, and our debates need to be radical and inclusive.

"Reform Scotland has been challenging policy-makers and politicians in Scotland to look at new ideas and approaches that would strengthen our economy, raise standards in education, improve our governance and tackle inequalities.

“Their approach to evidence and debate is needed today more than ever.

“As we move on from the pandemic there is a real and urgent need to open up the debates on public policy in Scotland and secure a better future for our country. I am excited to be joining Reform Scotland at this time and I look forward to using my experience to help them make an even greater impact in the future.”

Reform Scotland director Chris Deerin said Lord McConnell would bring “fresh energy and expertise” to the body, adding: “I am delighted that Lord McConnell has agreed to join us as chair. As a hugely respected former First Minister he has unparalleled understanding and experience of government and policy, and will greatly enrich our work and focus.

“While Jack is a member of the Labour Party, he has always put good public policy and the interests of Scotland first, and has excellent relationships with politicians of all parties.

“We are a fiercely independent, non-party think tank and always will be - it remains our guiding aim to produce ideas based on evidence and data that can improve the state of Scotland, and to continue to work with partners of all political persuasions and none.

“I’d also like to thank Alan for his commitment to Reform Scotland over the past seven years. He has been an exemplary chair and a huge support to me and the team, and will be missed.”

Outgoing chairman Mr MacFarlane added: “ “Lord McConnell is a man of principle and intellect, and continues to be an important voice in the debate about Scotland’s future.

“During my period in the chair, it has been my privilege to help Reform Scotland thrive and grow.

“I have observed first-hand the important and influential role our think tank plays in the political and policy-making process, and how passionate and committed its team is.

“I am delighted now to pass the torch on to Jack, and I know that Reform Scotland will continue to go from strength to strength.”