A FORMER aide to Labour leader Ed Miliband is favourite to be chosen as the party’s candidate in Midlothian to replace retiring MP David Hamilton.
Dalkeith-born Kenny Young was elected a councillor less than three months ago, but is tipped to stand for Westminster at the general election in May after Mr Hamilton’s surprise announcement last month he was to stand down after representing Midlothian in the Commons for 14 years.
Five would-be candidates have put their names forward and although they have not been named officially it is thought Cllr Young could be the only local contender.
A special panel drawn from Labour’s UK national executive committee and its Scottish executive committee will meet on Monday to draw up a shortlist to present to the local party, which is due to make the final selection on March 2.
Cllr Young was head of press during Mr Miliband’s successful leadership campaign in 2010 and then press manager in the leader’s office for two years.
He won the Midlothian East council by-election in November, a contest the SNP had been expected to win.
And he said that if he were to become MP for the area he would continue as a councillor but divert his council salary to help local groups who had suffered as a result of cuts.
Cllr Young said that when the by-election had come up he had taken the opportunity to stand to represent the area he grew up in and where he still lives, and he was doing the same now the parliamentary vacancy had arisen.
“The people I represent as a councillor are the same people I would be representing as an MP,” he said. “But I would not be taking two salaries. The SNP council has made cuts to local voluntary groups and I would find a way of donating my council salary to local groups.”
Mr Hamilton had a majority of 10,349 in 2010 and Cllr Young said he was optimistic Labour could win the seat again on May 7.
He said despite losing both Midlothian’s Holyrood seat and control of the council to the SNP, Labour’s fortunes in the area were reviving. “There was a majority No vote in Midlothian in the referendum and we won the council by-election although the SNP started with a 300-vote advantage,” he said.
Council leader Owen Thompson has been selected as the SNP’s candidate for Midlothian at the general election.