Former Edinburgh East MP bids to regain her seat

Sheila Gilmore
Sheila Gilmore
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FORMER Labour MP Sheila Gilmore is bidding to make a Westminster comeback three years after losing her seat to the SNP.

She is one of three hopefuls in the running to fight her former seat of Edinburgh East at the next general election and try to topple the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard. Also seeking the nomination are Liberton/Gilmerton councillor and vice-convener of housing and economy Lezley Cameron and party activist Joyce Nicol. Patsy King, who fought the constituency at last year’s general election, is not bidding to stand again this time. Labour bosses ruled it would be an all-women shortlist.

Ms Gilmore, who was MP from 2010 until 2015, said she saw her work representing the seat as “unfinished business”.

She said: “I felt I was getting to grips with the role both at Westminster and in the constituency; there was a lot more to be done and lots of issues I wanted to take up.”

Edinburgh East used to be Labour’s safest seat in the city and Ms Gilmore’s predecessor Gavin Strang held it for 40 years.

At the 2015 general election the SNP won by 9106 votes. But last year the majority was reduced to 3425.

Ms Gilmore said she believed Labour now had a good chance winning it back. “Things have changed a lot,” she said. “I don’t think anyone would say it was easy, but the apparent grip the SNP had in 2015 has weakened.”

She admitted she had not voted for Jeremy Corbyn as leader but added she did not vote for Tony Blair in 1994 either. She said she would be happy to fight the election on the policies in last year’s Labour manifesto.

And she continued: “Jeremy is leader and that’s how it’s going to be for some considerable time to come.

“We don’t all have to think exactly the same thing. If we don’t allow some room for differences of opinion that’s not healthy.”

Labour is currently selecting candidates in key seats even though the election is not due until 2022 because it wants to be ready in case of a snap poll.

Ms Gilmore said: “Last year everyone was lulled into that feeling it would not happen. That meant they were scrapping around at the last minute. It’s sensible to be a bit more prepared.”

Local Labour party members will decide at the end of the month which candidate they want to field.