John McTernan ‘could succeed Alistair Darling’

John McTernan has been tipped as a potential successor to Alistair Darling. Picture: Sandy Young
John McTernan has been tipped as a potential successor to Alistair Darling. Picture: Sandy Young
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JOHN McTernan, former adviser to Tony Blair, has been tipped as a potential successor to Alistair Darling in the Edinburgh South West seat.

Mr McTernan - who took the role of director of political operations in Downing Street after his stint as a special adviser, is reportedly interested in standing as Labour’s candidate in the seat at next year’s General Election.

Mr Darling, who led the pro-union Better Together campaign, announced in November that he would be stepping down after 27 years as an MP.

A timetable for appointing Mr Darling’s successor has been drawn up, with applications due by December 18 and a shortlist scheduled for January 17.

Labour councillors Ricky Henderson and Norma Austin Hart, along with Foysol Choudhury, chair of Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Equality Council, have signalled their interest in the post.

Seen as a relatively safe seat - Mr Darling held a majority of 8447 over nearest rivals the Scottish Conservatives at the last election - it is expected to attract interest from further afield.

Mr McTernan, who spent time as a Labour councillor in Southwark as well as head of policy for former First Minister Henry McLeish, is the first high-profile figure from outwith Edinburgh to be linked with the seat, with several sources saying they understood he was considering putting his name forward.

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There has been no comment from Mr McTernan himself.

Born in London, Mr McTernan, 55, grew up in Edinburgh, attending Firhill High School and Edinburgh University.

He entered Downing Street in 2004, initially as a special adviser in the unit responsible for housing and regeneration policy, before becoming political secretary and director of political operations.

He was seconded to the Scottish Labour Party in 2007, where he helped run its campaign for the Holyrood elections as the SNP came to power.

He then worked as a special adviser at the Scottish Office, first for Des Browne and then Jim Murphy.

In 2011, he was appointed Communications Director to Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, who was forced out of office two years later.

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