Footballer Michael Stewart bids to stand for SNP

Former footballer Michael Stewart wants to become an SNP MP. Pic: Jane Barlow
Former footballer Michael Stewart wants to become an SNP MP. Pic: Jane Barlow
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EX-footballer and TV pundit Michael Stewart is bidding to become an MP in next year’s general election.

The former Hearts captain – who also played for Hibs and Scotland – is one of three candidates in the running to be named the SNP’s Westminster candidate for Edinburgh West.

The avid Yes campaigner, 33, will go up against city councillor and finance leader Alasdair Rankin and Business for Scotland managing director Michelle Thomson.

City SNP leader Steve Cardownie confirmed the Sportscene presenter’s nomination.

He said: “I heard from another councillor last night that Michael Stewart was standing. Nominations are now closed so it’s no secret, we have our three candidates.”

The trio will square off in the Edinburgh West SNP’s candidate hustings event on January 9, at the Munro Centre on Parkgrove Street, before challenging Lib Dem Mike Crockart for his seat at Westminster.

Edinburgh-born Stewart launched his career with Manchester United in 1998 after a stint with the club’s youth team.

He made his senior debut for the club in October 2000 against Watford, and went on to play for the reds for several years before being loaned to Nottingham Forest and Hearts.

He then signed with city rivals Hibs at the end of his Manchester United contract, making 54 appearances at Easter Road and scoring two goals during his two years there.

Stewart returned to Hearts in 2007 and was made captain two years later following the departure of Robbie Neilson.

He left the club in 2010, briefly playing abroad and in the English Premier League before retiring from football and become a sports pundit.

A staunch supporter of independence, he helped launched the Sport for Yes campaign in May.

Speaking at the time, he said: “My sport already competes as a nation in our own right and I was fortunate to pull on the dark blue strip to compete, but not everyone has had the chance.”

Stewart joins comedy boss Tommy Sheppard, the former Scottish Labour deputy general secretary who campaigned for a Yes vote and joined the SNP in the aftermath of the referendum, who confirmed earlier this month that he is in the running to become the SNP candidate in Edinburgh East. He will face competition from local SNP councillors Mike Bridgman and Alex Lunn.

SNP councillor and Hibs supporter Paul McLennan, said Stewart’s bid for Westminster had been on the cards.

“There has been plenty of talk for some time about his intentions, and it certainly doesn’t come as a surprise,” he said.

“Michael was an extremely active campaigner in the independence referendum.”

Latest polls show the party’s rising popularity with 43 per cent saying they intend to vote nationalist.