AN SNP activist who says he has Europe in his blood is bidding to be the party’s standard-bearer in a crucial poll battle which could make him Scotland’s youngest-ever MEP.
Toni Giugliano, who is convener of the SNP’s Edinburgh city association, has launched a campaign to become one of the SNP’s candidates for next year’s European Parliament elections, which will take place just a few months before Scotland’s independence referendum and will be seen as a key indicator of public opinion at that point.
The SNP currently has two of Scotland’s six seats in the European Parliament; Labour also has two and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have one each. But a poll last weekend suggested the Tory and Lib Dem seats could both be at risk and put the SNP ahead of Labour. The SNP’s existing MEPs, Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smyth, are expected to stand again, but if Mr Giugliano were to join them as one of the top three Nationalist candidates in the Scotland-wide election he could have a good chance of being elected.
The 27-year-old was born in Italy, came to Scotland when he was seven, studied European politics and French at Edinburgh University and has worked in Brussels as well as Holyrood.
He has been nominated by all six of the Edinburgh constituency parties as well as local parties across Scotland, including Alex Salmond’s constituency, Aberdeenshire East, and others in the SNP’s North East heartland.
The SNP spring conference will choose the party’s six candidates and they will be ranked by a ballot of all members.
Mr Giugliano said he was not standing in order to raise his profile in the party or improve his chances of becoming a candidate for the Scottish or Westminster parliaments, but because he wanted to be an MEP.
He said: “Europe is in my blood – it’s always been at the centre of my political, academic, working and family life.
“If it was not for the EU, I would not be living here. My parents came here because of the free movement.
“I feel European just as I feel Scottish and Italian. It’s a strong identity.”
He said he first knew he would stand for Europe when he visited the European Parliament, aged 16, representing Scotland at a youth conference. “I gave a speech in front of 450 young Europeans in English, French and Italian.
“I joined the SNP largely because of its vision of Scotland in Europe. It was the only party talking about positive participation, working constructively with our neighbours and ridding ourselves of a Westminster-imposed europhobic agenda.”
Mr Giugliano – who managed the SNP campaign in Colinton/Fairmilehead at the 2011 council elections – has the backing of Flora MacCormick, widow of former SNP MEP and Edinburgh law professor Sir Neil MacCormick.
She said: “Toni knows how to win an election. He’s a hard worker. I saw what he did in my own ward – turning a solid Labour area into an SNP stronghold. He’s the ideal candidate.”