PRIMARY teacher Martin Whitfield has been chosen as Labour’s candidate to fight the target seat of East Lothian at the general election.
The party has high hopes of winning the constituency back from the SNP after East Lothian Labour MSP Iain Gray successfully fought off the Nationalist challenge to hold onto the equivalent seat in last year’s Holyrood elections.
Mr Whitfield, 51, is a former lawyer who switched to teaching over a decade ago and is also a community activist.
He teaches at Prestonpans Primary School and is on the East Lothian executive committee of the EIS teaching union and a council member of the General Teaching Council of Scotland.
He is also chair of Prestonpans Community Council.
Mr Whitfield said: “I’m delighted and honoured to stand for the East Lothian constituency, where I live and work.”
The SNP’s George Kerevan won the seat at the last general election two years ago, beating Labour’s Fiona O’Donnell by 6803 votes.
But East Lothian has been named as one of three seats which Labour is said to be focusing its resources on in this campaign. The others are Edinburgh South, where Ian Murray was the only Labour MP to survive the SNP surge in 2015, and East Renfrewshire, previously held by former Scottish leader Jim Murphy.
Mr Whitfield said: “I love East Lothian and know that it has been let down time and again by the SNP. My promise in this campaign is simple. I will always stand up for East Lothian and always put its interests first.
“On June 8 we can send a powerful message to Nicola Sturgeon that we do not want another divisive independence referendum, but instead a fair share for our schools, hospitals and other local services.
“Only Labour can beat the SNP in East Lothian, and it’s time for an MP who is focused on this county not another referendum.”
At last year’s Scottish Parliament elections, East Lothian was one of the seats the SNP failed to take. Iain Gray held on for Labour by 1127 votes.
Mr Gray welcomed Mr Whitfield’s selection. He said: “I have worked with him on a number of issues, including tackling local rail problems.
“The people of East Lothian know that the SNP has let the county down again and again. From shutting our courts, to denying our schools extra funding for years, delaying our new hospital by a decade and starving local railway services of the investment they need, the SNP has always put East Lothian at the back of the queue.
“We need a Member of Parliament whose priority is his local community, and standing up for this county, rather than being an apologist for the SNP Scottish Government whose focus is another divisive independence referendum. Martin Whitfield will be that MP, stronger for East Lothian.”