Former policeman Mike Crockart to defend Barrett's Capital seat

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LIBERAL Democrats have chosen former policeman Mike Crockart to replace Edinburgh West MP John Barrett when he stands down at the next general election.

The 43-year-old father-of-two emerged as the victor in a closely-fought contest to become the candidate in what is the Lib Dems' second safest seat in the UK.

It means Mr Crockart, who spent six years as a beat bobby in the centre of Edinburgh, is almost guaranteed a place in the Commons.

He saw off competition from Edinburgh housing convener Paul Edie, former Scottish Executive minister Euan Robson and party policy convener Siobhan Mathers to win the nomination.

Afterwards he said he was "tremendously excited" but was not taking anything for granted.

"The next general election has the potential to be one of the strangest we have ever seen because there is such discontent with the political system.

"I think what ultimately won me the nomination was the fuller amount of experience outside politics and a clearer personification of change."

Mr Crockart, now a systems developer with Standard Life, was with Lothian and Borders Police for eight years, six of them on the beat, first in Princes Street and the city centre and later in the Old Town area.

His first foray into politics was as the Lib Dem candidate in the 2002 Balerno by-election for the city council. He stood there again in the 2003 council elections and in the council by-election in Murrayfield in 2005.

He fought Edinburgh North & Leith at the 2005 general election and finished just over five per cent behind Labour, despite the party mounting hardly any campaign at all. And he stood in the same constituency for Holyrood in 2007.

He lives near Ratho and has been convener of the Edinburgh West local party since the start of the year.

Thirteen hopefuls applied for the candidacy, eight were interviewed and four made it to the final shortlist.

When the votes were counted in the postal ballot of Lib Dem members, Mr Crockart was ahead at the first stage with 50 votes to 44 for Cllr Edie, 23 for Ms Mathers and 20 for Mr Robson. Mr Robson was eliminated and the totals became 55 for Mr Crockart, 48 for Cllr Edie and 34 for Ms Mathers. Then when Ms Mathers was eliminated, Mr Crockart won by 77 votes to Cllr Edie's 57.