A COUNCILLOR who defected from the Liberal Democrats to join the SNP has quit as a candidate in the local elections.
Former Buckingham Palace press officer Elaine Morris had been selected as one of two Nationalist hopefuls in the Drumbrae/Gyle ward for the poll on May 3.
She has decided to stand down for health reasons and has been replaced by Ron Cairns, who failed to win selection in his own Pentland Hills ward.
Cllr Morris – who was first elected as a Lib Dem councillor in 2007 but defected to the SNP last year – said she was disappointed to have to withdraw.
“I would very much like to have stood as an SNP candidate in these elections, but unfortunately the timing is not good. I have got to look after my health and try to get back to full fitness.”
She denied there had been any pressure on her to pull out to make way for Cllr Cairns. She said: “No-one would pressure me to stand down. A number of people tried to persuade me to carry on. I could not have had more support.”
Cllr Cairns lost the SNP’s Pentland Hills nomination after being challenged by long-time party activist Bill Henderson. There were claims Cllr Cairns had not done enough work since being elected in 2007, though he insisted he had done a lot behind the scenes.
Today he said: “I was not doing political work – I was spending too much time with the people, community councils and so on.”
He claimed that after losing the nomination he had planned to retire. “I need to spend time with my family. I’m 67 and I’ve got four grandchildren,” he said.
“Then Elaine fell ill, the branch asked if I would take Elaine’s place. When someone gives me a challenge I take it.”
Last week, the Evening News revealed the SNP had given up its ambition to win overall control of the city council and would be standing a maximum of 26 candidates – four short of the number needed for an outright majority. Its aim is now to become the largest party and lead the next administration.
Cllr Morris said she hoped to stand again in the future. “If not for the council it might be as a Holyrood candidate.”
Cllr Morris is councillor for Forth ward, but she did not bid to stand again there for the SNP. Fellow Forth councillor and SNP group leader Steve Cardownie will fight the ward along with George Gordon.
The candidate standing along with Cllr Cairns in Drumbrae/Gyle will be former Clackmannanshire councillor Alison Lindsay.