COMEDY boss Tommy Sheppard is bidding to become the SNP candidate in what is seen as the party’s most winnable seat in the Capital at next year’s general election.
The former Scottish Labour deputy general secretary, who campaigned for a Yes vote and joined the SNP in the aftermath of the referendum, is in the running to become the SNP candidate in Edinburgh East.
But he will face competition from several others, including local SNP councillors Mike Bridgman and Alex Lunn.
Recent polls have given the SNP a huge lead in voting intentions for Westminster, with one Survation survey last week suggesting all but five of Labour’s 40 Scottish MPs were set to be ousted.
Edinburgh East, held by Labour’s Sheila Gilmore, recorded the biggest Yes vote in the Capital in the independence referendum and the equivalent Holyrood seat has been held by the SNP since 2007.
Mr Sheppard, who runs The Stand Comedy Club, said: “I think there’s a real mood for change in the country and in order to achieve that we need a big shake-up in Westminster next May.
“I would be extremely privileged to be able to fly the flag for the SNP in that contest.
“A lot of Labour people like myself have come over to the party and I think it offers by far the best way forward for Scotland and Edinburgh.”
Mr Sheppard was a Labour councillor in Hackney in London for eight years and stood for Labour in the safe Tory seat of Bury St Edmunds in the 1992 general election. He tried to dampen expectations of a spectacular advance.
He said: “We need to be extremely wary of the polls coming out at the moment. Things will settle down and Labour has a pretty big majority in Edinburgh East. It will be very difficult to prise it off them. It’s a huge mountain we need to climb, but the party is in good shape for it.”
Mike Bridgman, councillor for Portobello/Craigmillar since 2007, said he believed the seat was winnable.
He said. “I’ve had the honour and the pleasure of representing people in my area for the last seven years and I believe I have a strong track record.”
Craigentinny/Duddingston councillor Mr Lunn – who defected from Labour to the SNP ahead of the referendum – said: “I’ve been approached by several dozen members, urging me to stand.
“I’m delighted to be one of the candidates nominated.”
Others understood to be in the running for Edinburgh East include commentator George Kerevan; Bill Wilson, a former West of Scotland Nationalist MSP; and Ron McNulty, an activist who ran the Yes stall in Portobello.