22 August 2010

Selection Box: South Scotland

South Scotland isn't devoid of a few interesting contests.

For Labour, there's the vexed question of who to replace Cathy Jamieson as candidate in Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley, particularly as a QIB would make this seat highly marginal. But there's another interesting decision for the party. With Cunninghame South leaving the region, and SNP-held Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley coming in, there's now a notional Labour Regional seat, and a vacancy to fill. Moreover, the theory that the spot might prove tempting for a defeated Labour MP has been blown part by the somewhat frustrating failure on the part of any Labour MP to be defeated, so unless Lord Browne fancies doing a Foulkes, it's not clear who might come forward.

But in terms of constituencies, all eyes should be on the Borders: the new boundaries of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale are favourable to SNP candidate Christine Grahame (suggesting that Jeremy Purvis might have to decamp to the List), while the Tories have, somewhat surprisingly, selected former Tory MP Peter Duncan ahead of Derek Brownlee, who stood in the old Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale seat. Brownlee will have to make do with fighting East Lothian instead, but this throws up another intriguing battle: with only one Regional seat (and even that's in doubt if Gillian Dykes succeeds where Murray Tosh failed and beats Elaine Murray in Dumfriesshire), and two strong candidates for it, what will the Tories do? Will they opt for old standard-bearer Peter Duncan, the former Party Chairman and Shadow Secretary of State, who quite literally put the Tories back on the map in Scotland back in 2001? Or will they choose the up-and-coming Derek Brownlee, whose negotiation during the budget process has delivered the implementation of Tory policies for the first time since devolution? It's a tough call, and there's going to be one hell of a bloody nose for someone.

(Incidentally, a correspondent who, sadly, didn't leave a name assures me that in fact, Brownlee secured the East Lothian selection before Duncan was chosen in Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale. I must confess to being surprised by that particular alignment of events: while neither seat is a particularly appealing prospect, respectively being the constituency of the Leader of the Opposition and an SNP-LibDem marginal with the Tories shut out, but Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale was Brownlee's base for the last two elections. Does he just fancy a pop at Iain Gray?)

Meanwhile, we have the re-match between Tory MSP John Lamont and the man he defeated, LibDem Euan Robson, in Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire.

Finally, there's the SNP List, with Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley coming into the region but being absorbed into the SNP's current total of five seats in the South, and with five Regional MSPs currently, this could have been ugly for the Party. But with Mike Russell heading north, and Alasdair Morgan standing down, the SNP goes from having more candidates than slots to defend, to having a vacancy for a new face.


Anonymous said...

Peter Duncan wasn't selected over Derek Brownlee. Derek was selected as East Lothian candidate before Peter was selected for the borders seat. Feel free to correct your error.

Will said...

Thank you for pointing that out, Anon, and I have added a paragraph flagging this up, though perhaps you could shed a little more light on the situation for me: I'm perplexed that Brownlee could quit what would appear to be his main base for a constituency which doesn't strike me as being worth any real upheaval. Does he simply want a pop at Iain Gray, or are there other factors at work?

Andrea said...

Matt McLaughlin is the Labour candidate in Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley.

I believe that Carrick Cumnock and Doon Valley selection is currently underway.

An interesting SNP battle for East Lothians nomination: Alyn Smith MEP has been defeated by councul leader David Berry (71 to 69 with 2 spoiled papers).

Andrea said...

Oh, I've just seen it: Richard Leonard is the new Labour candidate for Carrick, Cumnoock and Doon Valley. Selected 2 days ago (Jamieson's twitter is the source)

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