Edinburgh SNP group's new leader will be Lesley Macinnes or Simita Kumar

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The contest to become the next leader of the SNP group on Edinburgh council is to be a straight fight between two of the party’s female councillors.

Former transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes and the group’s education spokesperson Simita Kumar will go head to head in the internal election among the city’s 18 SNP councillors next week.

Councillors Simita Kumar, left, and Lesley Macinnes will go head to head in the contest to become the new leader of Edinburgh council's SNP group. Councillors Simita Kumar, left, and Lesley Macinnes will go head to head in the contest to become the new leader of Edinburgh council's SNP group.
Councillors Simita Kumar, left, and Lesley Macinnes will go head to head in the contest to become the new leader of Edinburgh council's SNP group. | Supplied

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Former housing convener Kate Campbell had been expected to stand and was widely tipped to win, but she decided not to put her name forward.

Current group leader Adam Nols-McVey announced last month he was stepping down from the post fer seven years in charge, including five years as council leader at the head of an SNP-Labour coalition, the first SNP councillor to lead an administration in the Capital.

The vote to choose his successor will take place next Tuesday. Cllr Macinnes has been a councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton since 2017 and was previously manager of an international organisation. The transport portfolio put her at the centre of numerous controversies, not least the long-running row over Spaces for People schemes during Covid.

Simita Kumar has been SNP councillor for Southside/Newington since 2022 - the city’s first female ethnic minority councillor. Originally from Fiji, she came to Scotland when she was 17 and works as a health researcher.

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The all-female contest means that whoever wins, the SNP group will have its first woman leader. And if Cllr Kumar wins, she will be the first leader of any group to come from an ethnic minority.

An SNP spokesperson said: “We are delighted as a group that two such able individuals have put their name forward. It shows the depth and breadth of talent within the SNP group on the council. It’s a contest that will be carried out in a positive, friendly and comradely manner and I’ve no doubt that all members of the group will come together to support the eventual winner.”

Cllr Kumar will step down as chair of the SNP group and there will be a contest for that post between Drum Brae/Gyle councillor Euan Hyslop and Leith Walk councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan.

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