A FORMER broadcast journalist who stood against Alex Salmond at the last general election has emerged as favourite to become the Liberal Democrats’ candidate in their top target seat in the Capital.
Christine Jardine is expected to be chosen by local party members next week to fight Edinburgh West, which was a Lib Dem stronghold before it was won by the SNP’s Michelle Thomson two years ago.
Ms Thomson resigned the party whip within months of her election after a scandal broke over her property deals and has sat as an independent MP ever since.
The Lib Dems’ Alex Cole-Hamilton won the equivalent Scottish Parliament seat at last year’s Holyrood election, and the party believes it now has a good chance of retaking the Westminster seat too.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “We have a well-oiled machine and an enthusiastic activist base. There is a real attrition in the SNP vote on the doorstep and a massive tactical vote from Tory and Labour supporters who know the fight is between us and the SNP.”
Scottish Lib Dems agreed last year to have all-female shortlists in their top five target Westminster seats, which include Edinburgh West.
A shortlist of three has been drawn up and the final choice will be made by members next Friday. But sources say Ms Jardine is the clear favourite.
After working as a BBC journalist in the 1990s, she became a journalism lecturer and has also worked for the Press Association and a media training company.
In the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum she was appointed a media adviser to the UK coalition government. She now describes herself as a media consultant and political commentator for the Lib Dems.
In 2015, Ms Jardine was the Lib Dem candidate seeking to block Mr Salmond’s return to Westminster in Gordon constituency after he stepped down as first minister. Party strategists claimed tactical voting could see her defeat Mr Salmond, but he won with an 8000-plus majority.
Ms Jardine also stood for the Lib Dems in Aberdeenshire East at last year’s Holyrood elections, but finished third.
She moved to Edinburgh about a year ago.
Ms Thomson’s position is not yet clear. Last September SNP MPs unanimously backed a call for her to be readmitted to the party, but the SNP’s national executive delayed a decision. The executive is due to discuss her case again today.
It could decide to reinstate her or select someone else as the SNP’s candidate for the seat. But if she is not brought back into the party, Ms Thomson could stand as an independent.
MPs who seek re-election and are defeated qualify for thousands of pounds in severance pay, but those who stand down receive no payment.