Ex-Lord Provost is new candidate for Scottish Parliament

FORMER Lord Provost Lesley Hinds is to be Labour's candidate in a key city seat at next year's Holyrood elections.

She will fight the newly-named Edinburgh Western constituency in the Scottish Parliament contest.

Labour achieved an impressive result in the equivalent Westminster seat, Edinburgh West, at last month's general election, leapfrogging the Tories to finish in second place, and slashing the Liberal Democrat majority by almost 10,000.

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Councillor Hinds said it was the biggest swing from the Lib Dems to Labour in the UK.

And she hopes to build on that success and win the Holyrood seat from sitting Lib Dem MSP Margaret Smith.

The constituency was traditionally Tory until the Conservatives' 1997 Scottish wipe-out and has been represented by the Lib Dems at both Westminster and Holyrood ever since.

Labour has never seen it as a serious prospect until now. The party was third in the 1999 and 2003 Holyrood elections and slipped to fourth place in 2007 amid the SNP surge.

But Cllr Hinds believes the general election result and disillusionment with the Lib Dems over their UK coalition with the Tories changed things.

She said: "The Liberal Democrat result in Edinburgh West at the general election was very poor, with a large swing from them to Labour of 11.4 per cent. The Liberal Democrats have taken Edinburgh West voters for granted over many years, duping Labour voters into lending them their votes to keep the Tories out. Voters at the last election voted Liberal Democrat and got a Tory government.

"In addition the performance of the Lib Dem/SNP coalition on the council has convinced people that they are not worth voting for. The next election will be a two-horse race between Labour and Liberal Democrats. Labour has the best opportunity for many years to win this seat."

Cll Hinds is due to be confirmed as the candidate next week. It is understood several other would-be candidates had registered an interest, but pulled out after discovering she was bidding for it, leaving her as the sole nominee.

The seat stretches from Queensferry and Kirkliston to Muirhouse and Cllr Hinds' own area of Drylaw, taking in Corstorphine, Clermiston, Drumbrae, Cramond, Blackhall and part of Craigleith.

Cammy Day, Labour's candidate at the general election, said: "Last month's result set the tone for a shift in the political ground in Edinburgh West."

New Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart was elected with a 3,800 majority, down from 13,600 at the 2005 election.