Labour’s Cara Hilton demands SNP Walker apology

CARA Hilton, a local councillor and daughter of a former MSP, has been selected by Labour to fight a by-election to replace disgraced politician Bill Walker.

Labour candidate Cara Hilton has demanded the SNP apologise over the Bill Walker fiasco. Picture: Complimentary

Ms Hilton, whose mother Cathy Peattie was a Labour MSP, defeated fellow councillor Lesley Laird and solicitor Fiona Yates in a ballot of party members yesterday. The move came after a “chaotic” process in which Labour initially abandoned its plans for an all-woman shortlist, before changing its mind again.

Ms Hilton said last night that Dunfermline could “move us on from the disgrace of Bill Walker” after she was selected at a meeting of party members in the constituency.

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Walker finally resigned his seat earlier this month after being convicted of 23 domestic abuse charges 16 days earlier.

He had been elected as an SNP member in 2011, but was later expelled from the party.

Ms Hilton called on the SNP to apologise for ever selecting him as a candidate.

“This by-election has been brought about because the SNP ignored the warnings about Bill Walker which resulted in someone with a history of domestic violence being elected to the Scottish Parliament,” she said.

“His election shamed Dunfermline and I am demanding an apology from the SNP for this unthinkable action.

“As someone living in the constituency, I know the priorities and needs of the hard-working families in Dunfermline.

“We need more jobs, we need our economy to improve, we need more of our young people in work. Instead, we have an SNP government that is more interested in the referendum than standing up for the people of Dunfermline.

“I look forward to the campaign ahead and to speaking to thousands of local people who are so desperate for an MSP who will move us on from the disgrace of Bill Walker and who will fight for what we need here in Dunfermline. I hope that people put their trust in me. I won’t let them down.”

The SNP is due to select its candidate for the by-election today, with former nationalist MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville heavily tipped to be picked by party members.

The Labour party’s leadership had come under heavy pressure to select a woman candidate, with Holyrood frontbencher Jenny Marra, Katy Clark MP and Community trade union official John Park all backing the move.

Writing in The Scotsman last week, Susan Dalgety, a former ministerial adviser to Jack McConnell, and pro-independence campaigner Kate Higgins urged the main parties to “make a strong statement about the place of women in our society” by choosing female candidates.

Last week, the party opened up the selection process to male candidates, with former Lothians police inspector Tom McInally and Ewan Aitken, one time leader of Edinburgh City Council, told they would be interviewed. However, the pair were later informed their names would not be added to the shortlist of three female candidates.