Councillor Lezley Cameron wins left wing backing for Edinburgh East seat selection

Lezley Cameron, Labour councillor
Lezley Cameron, Labour councillor
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westminster hopeful Lezley Cameron is being backed by left-wing campaign Momentum in her bid to become Labour’s candidate for Edinburgh East – despite being labelled her party’s “most right wing” councillor in the city.

Local party members will vote tonight to choose who stands in the constituency at the next general election.

It is a three-cornered contest between Cllr Cameron, Sheila Gilmore, who was MP for the seat from 2010 to 2015, and party activist Joyce Nicol.

In her statement to members, Cllr Cameron, who is vice-convener of the city’s housing and economy committee, says: “I have an established record in trade union activism, as a dedicated, team-minded Labour campaigner and councillor and a proven commitment to championing socialist values and to putting these into practice.”

Momentum Edinburgh has given her its backing and urged its supporters to vote for her in the selection contest and help in her campaign.

But the move has raised eyebrows. “Lezley is more Blairite than Momentum,” said one party source. She’s the most right-wing of all the current Labour councillors, the only one who advocated doing a deal with the Tories and she wants a hotel instead of housing at India Quay.”

The source suggested Momentum’s decision to back Cllr Cameron was due to Ms Gilmore’s association with the Blairite Progress group.

Edinburgh East has been held by the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard since 2015, but it is one of Labour’s top targets for the next election.

Ms Gilmore has said she sees her work representing the constituency as “unfinished business”.

In her statement to members she says: “I have a track record of active campaigning. I know the area well. I will be a hands-on campaigning candidate, building teams and sharing in all of the work.”

Cllr Cameron, who represents Liberton/Gilmerton, also has the backing of Unison, Unite and the Communication Workers Union.

An endorsement from Unison’s Dave Watson praises her support for the Fair Fringe campaign and the council’s hospitality charter promoting best practice by those employing people at the Edinburgh festivals.

He wrote: “Lezely is passionate about addressing the gender pay gap and achieving higher levels of women holding senior paid and elected posts in all organisations and in company boardrooms.”

Cllr Cameron did not want to comment on the claims about her.

She said: “I try to be pro-active and act in the best interests of the city, to make people’s lives better.

“I’ll let others say what they want to about me, good, bad or indifferent. I’ve had wonderful touching endorsements from many people.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com