GRASSROOTS No campaigners are planning to defy the leadership of UK parties by getting together behind a “stop Alex Salmond” candidate in Gordon.
Despite the Conservatives and Labour ruling out a deal to thwart Salmond’s general election ambitions, local party activists say they will back the Lib Dem candidate Christine Jardine, because she is the former first minister’s nearest challenger.
Jardine, a former journalist, is defending Gordon for the Lib Dems following the retirement of Sir Malcolm Bruce.
Although Jardine is defending a majority of almost 7,000, Salmond has been widely tipped to win the seat as Lib Dem support plummets and the SNP benefits from a post-referendum surge.
But the strong No vote recorded in the area has given local Better Together activists hope that they can work together to keep Salmond out.
The result in Aberdeenshire as a whole saw a 60 per cent to 40 per cent rejection of independence.
According to Lib Dem deputy chairman for the constituency Marion Ewenson members of other parties are pledging their support for Jardine as a “stop Alex Salmond candidate”.
Ewenson said: “We had a very active and successful cross party Better Together group in the constituency and people are not as pleased that Alex Salmond is standing as the SNP would like everyone to believe. You have to remember there was an overwhelming rejection of independence in Aberdeenshire and all he seems to want to do is keep pushing the same agenda.”
She added: “A lot of people in the Better Together Group were impressed by the way Christine campaigned which is why they are getting behind her even if they are normally supporters of other parties.”
Labour supporter George Simpson, an architect in Aberdeen, has decided to back Jardine. He said: “Labour do not have a strong vote here so it would be a wasted vote.
“What we need is a candidate to stop Alex Salmond so I will be backing Christine.
“The SNP have been very divisive here and the last thing we want is Alex Salmond using Gordon as a platform for his political obsession.”
Jayne James-Duff stood as a Tory council candidate in Aberdeenshire but said that she is now considering backing Jardine.
She said: “My [Conservative] friends and I will wait until the new year to see who stands the best chance of winning. But it seems to me that we all need to get behind one candidate to help beat Alex Salmond. The only issue with the Lib Dems is that they seem to be doing so badly in the polls, then Christine may not be the strongest candidate to win.”
She added: “I think all of us across the three unionist parties have all had enough of Alex Salmond. Really he should be apologising for the things he claimed during the referendum campaign which were just not true and he should be looking for a job outside politics.”
However, despite local activists wanting a “Better Together candidate” Scottish Tory and Labour party leaders are opposed to the idea.
The Conservatives have selected Colin Clark who claimed the Lib Dems were “kidding” voters. He pointed to the European Parliament result in Gordon which put the Tories in second place on 25 per cent behind the SNP on 31 per cent while the Lib Dems got 14 per cent.
One senior Tory source said: “If we thought the Lib Dems could win we might consider it, but they are doing so badly in the polls that they will be lucky to hold on to more than two of their 11 seats.”
A Labour Party spokesman said: “We are not entering any joint arrangements with the Tories and Lib Dems.”