Potential third contender for SNP in Edinburgh Central refuses to rule herself out

Alison Dickie fought the seat in 2016Alison Dickie fought the seat in 2016
Alison Dickie fought the seat in 2016
Could councillor enter battle with two SNP big guns?

A POTENTIAL third contender in the battle for the SNP nomination in Edinburgh Central has refused to rule herself out of the contest.

SNP big guns Angus Robertson and Joanna Cherry are fighting each other to become the Nationalist candidate for the seat at next year’s Holyrood election in what is seen as a proxy battle between Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond.

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Insiders have predicted the Capital’s education vice-convener Alison Dickie, who fought the seat last time, will stand aside rather than enter such a polarised contest.

But Councillor Dickie would not be drawn on her intentions. She said she was “not even thinking about it” because of the coronavirus crisis.

She said: “Now is absolutely not the time to campaign. My focus right now is the children and young people of this city and trying to get our schools back. I really don’t care about anything else just now.”

Mr Robertson, former deputy leader of the party and a key Sturgeon ally, officially launched his campaign for the nomination on Sunday.

But he has been criticised for not waiting for the selection process to be formally opened and accused of trying to “bounce” people into believing he already is the candidate.

Ms Cherry tweeted: “The SNP candidate selection process remains suspended due to the pandemic & out of respect for party procedures & the members of @EdinCentralSNP I won’t make any announcements until that position changes.”

There were claims on social media that Mr Robertson might have broken the rules by launching his campaign and asking for members’ support at this stage.

But Marco Biagi, the SNP MSP for the seat until he stood down in 2016, replied that since the party’s national executive committee had not yet agreed any selection rules “there are no rules banning press announcements or basically anything else”.

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And he added he had seen would-be candidates in at least seven seats asking for support.Edinburgh Central is seen as a good prospect for the SNP because current MSP Ruth Davidson, who won with a majority of just 610 in 2016, is standing down.

Party insiders have suggested Cllr Dickie may instead bid to become the candidate in Edinburgh Southern. Others tipped to try for that seat include Catriona Macdonald, who was the Westminster candidate last year, and transport convener Lesley Macinnes.

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