Paul Godzik Holyrood bid killed by businessman

Daniel Johnson, pictured, not Paul Godzik, will contest Edinburgh Southern. Picture: contributed
Daniel Johnson, pictured, not Paul Godzik, will contest Edinburgh Southern. Picture: contributed
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CITY education chief Paul Godzik has been snubbed in his bid to become an MSP.

In a closely fought contest to choose the Labour candidate for Edinburgh Southern at the next Holyrood elections in 2016, party activists opted for local businessman Daniel Johnson over Councillor Godzik, who stood in the seat last time.

A massive turn-out of more than 230 party members forced organisers to find a bigger room for the selection meeting.

Mr Johnson, managing director of Studio One and Paper Tiger, won 131 votes while Cllr Godzik got 99.

The same meeting selected Lothian MSP Sarah Boyack unopposed as candidate for Edinburgh Central, the seat she held until the last election.

Both constituencies are currently held by the SNP, but Labour needs a swing of just 1.05 per cent to win Southern and 1.6 per cent to take Central.

They are seen as two of the most winnable seats for the party and Mr Johnson and Ms Boyack are the first two Labour candidates to be selected for the election, which is nearly two-and-a-half years away.

Mr Johnson, 36, said his background in business would help bring innovation and creativity to the party’s approach to the election. He said: “I feel a great sense of pride in being given the trust of local members to fight Edinburgh Southern. As someone whose experience comes from outside politics, I am determined to bring fresh ideas and renewed energy to this campaign.”

He grew up in Colinton and went to Bonaly Primary School and Stewart’s Melville College. He joined the Labour Party at 17 and his first job after university was working for then Edinburgh South Labour MP Nigel Griffiths. After a spell in London, he returned to Edinburgh six years ago to work in the family business started by his father. He lives in Morningside with his wife and daughter.

He said: “I believe passionately that the values of small business and Labour are the same. To work, small businesses need to work together, creating opportunity for people working in them through mutual effort. Those are my values and those are Labour’s values.”

Ms Boyack, who was MSP for Edinburgh Central from the start of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 until losing to the SNP in 2011, said she was honoured to be chosen to fight the seat again.

She said: “It’s a wonderful place to live and work, and I look forward to reaching out to all communities during the campaign.”

The party had expected a maximum of 150 members for the selection meeting at Augustine United Church, George IV Bridge, but had to move it from a side room to the main church area when so many more turned up. All the would-be candidates were quizzed by members before the vote.

Ms Boyack said: “I think we have sent a message to the party that if you campaign and get members involved, they will come out because they feel motivated.”

Cllr Godzik wished the candidates well, but declined to comment further.