ONE of John Mason's first actions as the newly elected MP for Glasgow East was to resign his Baillieston city council seat.

The decision will not only spark a by-election but also a battle for Mr Mason's role as leader of the 21-strong SNP group.

And it will put added pressure on Drumchapel/Anniesland councillor Bill Kidd, who is also an SNP MSP for Glasgow, to quit one of his two jobs.

Mr Mason informed the council of his decision to step down just hours after the election result which wiped out a Labour majority of more than 13,500.

He said: "My commitment always was to resign if I was elected as MP for Glasgow East."

Mr Mason was elected to the city council in a by-election in 1998 and became SNP leader on the council the next year.

He refused to speculate on who is likely to take over, insisting it is a matter for his former colleagues on the council. But insiders believe there will only be three main contenders for the job.

They could be deputy group leader Billy McAllister, who represents Canal, Maryhill/Kelvin councillor Alex Dingwall and Alison Hunter, whose ward is Govan.

Prior to last year's council elections the SNP had four Glasgow councillors. That changed with the introduction of a new form of voting and the SNP now has a councillor in each of the 21 wards.

Despite quitting the council, Mr Mason says he has no intention of forgetting his roots or the people who elected him.

He said: "Being an MP will be a huge challenge.

"A councillor has the advantage of being on the ground and there are a lot of issues people will go to their councillor with.

"MSPs and MPs are dealing with different issues but if someone comes to me in the future with a road issue, for example, I will still take it up with the council."

Council chief executive and returning officer George Black has three months to call a by-election.