04 January 2006

Selection Box

Alex Salmond is one step closer to Holyrood: Richard Lochhead MSP (SNP, NE Scotland) has been selected to defend Moray for the party following Margaret Ewing's decision to step down. This clears the way for Salmond to stand on the North East List, and probably to stand in Aberdeen Central as well. The Party Leader has also had offers to stand in Gordon, and key SNP target Cumbernauld & Kilsyth (though he's turned down this one). To gain the selection, Lochhead beat off challenges from, among others, Annabelle Ewing (the former MP for Perth), Alasdair Allan (the Party's National Secretary) and Douglas Henderson (MP for East Aberdeenshire 1974-79).

Looking briefly at other SNP possible candidacies:

Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon has been selected unopposed as the SNP candidate in Glasgow Govan. Also, the Leadership is rumoured to be backing Bashir Ahmad for a high-ranking place on the List in the City.

In the Highlands and Islands, Jim Mather (current List MSP for the region) and Mike Russell (former MSP for the South of Scotland, and one-time Leadership candidate) are doing battle for selection in Argyll and Bute. Meanwhile, in the Western Isles, local Councillor Donald Manford is tipped to represent the Party against incumbent Labour MSP Alasdair Morrison.

In Ochil, Presiding Officer George Reid may well stand for re-election, but would prefer not to challenged by the other parties. The Herald is reporting that neither Labour nor the SNP are in favour of this, and Keith Brown is in the frame.

In the North East, Alex Salmond's likely candidacy on the List, along with a possible selection for Aberdeen Central or Gordon, is the big story, but Joe Fitzpatrick is the likely candidate for Dundee West.

In the West of Scotland, former SNP member Campbell Martin is obviously ruled out of re-selection by the Party, and Bruce McFee is standing down. Among the names vying to replace them are former MSPs Kenny Gibson (former MSP for Glasgow), Gil Paterson (who narrowly missed re-election for Central Scotland in 2003) and Fiona McLeod (who was given an implausibly low ranking in 2003). Professor Chris Harvey, formerly of the University of Tübingen, could also make an appearance.

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