Labour hopefuls aim to step into ousted Anne Moffat's shoes

A STAND-UP comic, an adviser to the Prime Minister and a campaigns expert will vie to become Labour's candidate to replace ousted East Lothian MP Anne Moffat.

Local party members will hear the trio make their pitches at a meeting on Monday night before voting on who should fight the seat at the general election, now just weeks away.

The shortlist – which was restricted to female hopefuls – was drawn up by a panel drawn from Labour's Scottish executive and national executive committee.

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And today a party insider described the high-powered line-up as "A-team candidates".

Former civil servant Ayesha Hazarika combines working as a special adviser to Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman with a second career as a stand-up comic.

Last month she narrowly missed out on winning the Labour nomination for West Dunbartonshire to replace John McFall, who is retiring.

Kirsty O'Brien is based in Downing Street as a policy adviser to Gordon Brown, and previously worked for the Equality and Human Rights Commission for two years.

Fiona O'Donnell is Labour's campaigns manager in Edinburgh and at one stage was sent in by the party to try to help resolve the row between Anne Moffat and the East Lothian party.

She grew up in the Highlands but lived in Port Seton when she was bringing up her family.

A Labour spokesman said: "These are three exceptionally talented candidates and whichever one of them is selected by local members will give us a fighting chance of holding the seat for Labour.

"Candidates of this calibre will be able to win the trust of local residents across East Lothian.

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"Local members will meet on Monday to select a candidate. They are pleased the difficult situation with Anne Moffat is now ended and that the local Labour Party will move forward with unity and determination to play its part in winning the general election."

Kirsty O'Brien, 32

Policy adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Previously worked for the Equality and Human Rights Commission and before that was head of policy for Labour Party.

Grew up in Glasgow, holidayed at Seton Sands.

Lived in Edinburgh while working for Jack McConnell in the Scottish Parliament.

Ayesha Hazarika, 33

Stand-up comic and special adviser to Harriet Harman. Has a degree in law.

Previously press officer to then Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Described as Indian Glaswegian living in London.

Has appeared as a regular character in BBC Asian Network soap Silver Street.

Fiona O'Donnell, 50

City-based Labour official. Grew up in the Highlands, went to Glasgow University. Brought up family in Port Seton. She has managed a Capability Scotland respite service and later work for children's charity NCH.

Has also worked for politicians at Holyrood, Westminster and the European Parliament.