Labour whittles election shortlist down to three

Kenny Young is one of three hopefuls hoping to be the Labour candidate in Midlothian. Picture: Greg Macvean
Kenny Young is one of three hopefuls hoping to be the Labour candidate in Midlothian. Picture: Greg Macvean
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LABOUR activists will choose from a shortlist of three would-be candidates when they pick a replacement for David Hamilton as the party’s standard-bearer at the general election in Midlothian.

Kenny Young, who is a former aide to Ed Miliband and recently-elected councillor for Midlothian East, will face a challenge from two Scots now based in England.

Charity worker David Smith, 38, was born and brought up in Renfrewshire and worked on peace and reconciliation projects in Northern Ireland, but is now based in Sunderland as head of international programme for the Bible Society.

He is a local campaign organiser for Labour in the north-east of England, but has never stood for parliament before.

He said: “I think our country is moving in entirely the wrong direction with a growing 
divergence between the wealthy and those living in poverty.” 
He highlighted fair wages, zero hours contracts, job security and affordable homes as key issues.

“These are things I think Labour can make great progress on if we are elected as the next government and I want to be part of that.”

Also shortlisted is Olwen Hamer, a councillor from Stoke-on-Trent and a former cabinet member there, who was fifth on Labour’s list of candidates for the West Midlands in last year’s European Parliament elections.

Mr Hamilton announced last month he was standing down after 14 years as MP.

Five people applied to become the candidate, but two were excluded from the list drawn up by a special panel from Labour’s UK and Scottish executive committees.

The local party will meet on March 2 to hear from the three remaining hopefuls and make the selection.

Councillor Young, who was press manager for Ed Miliband for two years and became a councillor in November after he won the Midlothian East by-election, said he was delighted to be through to the final round.

He said: “Midlothian is where my family is from, where I was brought up, live and serve my area as a councillor.

“I believe I can beat the SNP and be a Member of Parliament that my community will be proud of. We need a local candidate, rooted in the community, who will work flat out to win people’s trust in Midlothian and help kick David Cameron out of Number Ten.”