A FORMER No voter who was converted to the cause of independence is bidding to stand for the SNP in Edinburgh Southern at next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.
Michael Sturrock, who works in public affairs, is staunchly pro-European and says he voted No in the 2014 independence referendum because of the claim by Better Together that the only way to ensure Scotland’s continued membership of the EU was to stay in the UK.
But Brexit and growing levels of inequality left him “more and more disillusioned with the status quo” and he joined the SNP in October 2018.
He believes he could appeal to others who voted No in the referendum and persuade them to back the SNP.
He said: “The party and the movement in general, to be successful, is going to have to have voices that have come from the other side.
“We see from the opinion polls people moving to the Yes side, but I think it has to be demonstrated that it is a movement willing to move beyond anger or resentment towards the No side and throw open its arms to everyone so they can come over. I thought we really need candidates that are going to represent that feel to bring people over, so I wanted to do that.”
Edinburgh Southern is currently represented by Labour’s Daniel Johnson, who had a majority of 1,123 at the last elections in 2016.
And the equivalent Westminster seat is held by Ian Murray, Scotland’s only Labour MP.
Mr Sturrock said: “Edinburgh Southern has been a unionist and Labour stronghold, but we now see 40 per cent of Labour voters in Scotland support independence, so I think there is a real opportunity to appeal to the core supporters in Edinburgh Southern and try to bring them across.”
Three other would-be candidates have already declared their interest in fighting the seat for the SNP - Catriona MacDonald, who was the candidate at last year’s general election; city education vice-convener Alison Dickie, who represents Southside/Newington on the council; and disabled campaigner Dylan Roberts.
Yesterday was due to be the deadline for hopefuls to put their names forward to become SNP candidates, but it is understood that has now been postponed until next Monday.
Mr Sturrock said he believed he had the right credentials to convince other people to follow him in moving from No to Yes.
He said: “I have real experience working on behalf of business with politicians across the political divide to make policies that modernise and grow our economy.
“From this I know the business argument for independence is stronger than ever. Undecided voters who believed No campaign’s economic scaremongering in 2014 are enraged by Boris Johnson’s hard-Brexit recklessness and are reconsidering independence.
“It is vital we have a candidate who can speak frankly about political and economic realities and opportunities to turn those undecided voters into committed Yessers. I believe I can do this”.