FORMER TV weatherman and MSP Lloyd Quinan is challenging comedy boss Tommy Sheppard to become the SNP candidate in the party’s most winnable seat in the Capital at next year’s Westminster elections.
The pair are among a total of seven hopefuls bidding to stand for the Nationalists in Labour-held Edinburgh East.
Mr Sheppard, who runs The Stand Comedy Club in York Place, is a former Scottish Labour deputy general secretary, who campaigned for a Yes vote and joined the SNP in the aftermath of the referendum. He was seen as the favourite as soon as he put his name forward.
But Mr Quinan, who was SNP MSP for West of Scotland from 1999 to 2003, said many people, including members of the Niddrie Craigmillar for Yes group, with whom he worked during the referendum campaign, had urged him to stand.
The others in the running to become the Edinburgh East candidate are councillors Mike Bridgman and Alex Lunn, former MSP Bill Wilson, businesswoman Audrey Birt and activist Vivien Horn.
Edinburgh East, currently held by Labour’s Sheila Gilmore, recorded the biggest Yes vote in the Capital in the referendum – 47 per cent – and the equivalent Holyrood seat has been held by the SNP since 2007.
Mr Quinan said he had worked virtually full-time for six months with Niddrie and Craigmillar for Yes and he said the experience had renewed his taste for campaigning.
He said: “Having spent so much time in one of the most deprived areas of the city and seen people develop a sense of their own power and re-engage with politics, it really spurred me on to think I would like to represent these people and the rest of Edinburgh East.
“A large number of people have said they would like me to stand against Sheila Gilmore and I have decided this is the right thing to do.
“I’m fairly convinced if I win the nomination I can win the seat.”
Mr Quinan, who joined the SNP when he was 16, was a weatherman on STV in the 1990s before being elected to the Scottish Parliament. Later, he was briefly a member of the Scottish Socialist Party before rejoining the SNP.
He lives in Willowbrae and now works as a freelance journalist and broadcaster, working for news outlets in Catalonia and the Basque country.
Mr Sheppard welcomed Mr Quinan’s entry into the contest.
He said: “I think it’s great there is a strong field to choose from. No-one is a shoo-in. I know I have my work cut out.
“I’m confident my experience, my former Labour background and my track record in running a small business gives me the edge. But it’s in the hands of the people.”