THE fight to be the MP for Edinburgh West has been given a twist after it emerged Liberal Democrat Mike Crockart would have to defend his seat at the general election against his former boss.
Businesswoman Michelle Thomson, the SNP’s candidate, was Mr Crockart’s line manager when they both worked at Standard Life about 15 years ago.
Now they will do battle on the doorsteps and at hustings in the run-up to the May 7 poll.
Mr Crockart, who was elected with a majority of 3803 over Labour at the 2010 election, believes he can hold on to the seat despite his party’s poor poll ratings nationally.
But Ms Thomson insists the changed mood in Scottish politics gives her a good chance despite the SNP’s fourth place in the constituency last time. Both said their past working relationship will make no difference to the contest.
Ms Thomson said: “We have different political views, but I respect Mike for what he does.”
She started at Standard Life in 1990 as a trainee computer programmer before working her way up the ranks and taking on senior roles in IT and business change. She later moved to RBS and five years ago left to set up her own property management business.
She remembers talking politics with Mr Crockart, who had been a policeman with Lothian and Borders for eight years before he joined Standard Life as a systems developer.
Ms Thomson said: “Mike and I worked together in a team. We often chatted about politics.”
She said she had never been politically active until the referendum, which she says became “a passion”. She became managing director of Business for Scotland and spent almost all her time campaigning for a Yes vote.
Mr Crockart said he and Ms Thomson had worked together well at Standard Life – and admits he now sees her as his main challenger.
He said: “I bumped into her a few times during the referendum. On referendum day we were standing at a polling station in Blackhall and reminiscing together.
The general election is turning rapidly into a re-run of the referendum. The last thing we need is more years of uncertainty and wrangling over the constitution.”
Ms Thomson, who beat former Hearts and Hibs footballer Michael Stewart to become the candidate, said: “The current MP is part of a deeply unpopular government in terms of the austerity agenda being pursued at Westminster and I think that will cost him at the election.”