Five Holyrood 2016 candidates to watch

Clockwise from top left: Alex Cole-Hamilton; Ben Macpherson; Monica Lennon; Andy Wightman and Dean Lockhart

Clockwise from top left: Alex Cole-Hamilton; Ben Macpherson; Monica Lennon; Andy Wightman and Dean Lockhart

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A host of new faces have their sights set on a seat at Holyrood - but which ones, if elected, are the most likely to rise through the ranks of their party? Here are the ones to watch, as picked by the party leaders

Ben Macpherson - SNP

The SNP’s candidate for Edinburgh Northern and Leith has never stood for election before - but that did not stop Nicola Sturgeon naming the lawyer as one of the party’s future stars.

A solicitor at one of Edinburgh’s top law firms and a native of the city, Mr Macpherson has also worked in renewable energy, financial services and for an international charity. A member of the SNP for more than a decade, and a party activist for many years, he fought off stiff competition in the selection process to represent the party in the seat occupied by Labour’s Malcolm Chisholm since 1999.

Monica Lennon - Scottish Labour

The Hamilton councillor - Labour’s second-placed candidate on the Central Scotland list - has been earmarked for greatness by Kezia Dugdale. Ms Lennon graduated in 2001 and qualified as a chartered town planner.

She worked in local and national government and the private sector, and became a councillor in 2012. Like Ms Dugdale, she has been an outspoken advocate of gender equality and has already hit the headlines for calling out “everyday sexism” after she was told by a constituent she was “a little young and good-looking to be a councillor”.

Holyrood 2016: The latest from the campaign trail

Dean Lockhart - Scottish Conservatives

Mr Lockhart, a candidate on the Mid Scotland and Fife list, is going to be “an absolute superstar”, according to Ruth Davidson. The businessman and ex-diplomat, who has worked across south-east Asia, is primed to bring his international experience to Holyrood, the Scottish Tory leader said. Mr Lockhart grew up on a council estate, attending local schools before heading to Glasgow University. He has experience in a number of sectors including finance, law, and renewable energy.

Alex Cole-Hamilton - Scottish Liberal Democrats

Mr Cole-Hamilton was selected to fight Edinburgh Western back in 2014. The Lib Dems lost the seat to the SNP three years earlier and the party has invested heavily in winning it back. The charity worker - an experienced candidate who has stood for both Holyrood and Westminster before - has been a visible presence on the campaign trail, launching the party’s manifesto alongside Willie Rennie, and appearing at numerous photo-calls with the leader. It is no surprise he was among the candidates name-checked by Mr Rennie as a future star.

Andy Wightman - Scottish Greens

The writer and campaigner on land rights is standing for the Greens on the Lothians list.

Mr Wightman is well-respected for his work on land reform and represented the party on the Commission on local tax reform. A former specialist adviser to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, he is no stranger to parliamentary process and co-convener Patrick Harvie already has him tipped for great things should he gain a seat in Holyrood’s chamber in May.

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