Former MEP Hugh Kerr quits SNP and hopes to stand for new pro-indy party on Lothian list
A former MEP has quit the SNP and now hopes to stand in Lothian for alternative pro-indy party Action for Independence.
Hugh Kerr complained of a "lack of internal democracy" in the SNP and likened it to New Labour.
And he criticised the SNP’s decision to reserve the top slots on all eight regional lists for black, Asian or ethnic minority (Bame) candidates or disabled candidates.
The AFI, led by former SNP MSP Dave Thompson, hopes to “max the yes” by persuading independence supporters to back its candidates on the list, arguing the SNP is unlikely to qualify for many list seats because it will win so many constituencies.
Mr Kerr was elected as a Labour MEP in 1994 and served until 1999 but fell out with Tony Blair's New Labour and joined the Scottish Socialist Party, later becoming press officer for SSP leader Tommy Sheridan. He left the SSP in 2006 and joined Mr Sheridan's new Solidarity party and then switched again in 2011 to join the SNP.
But now he says he has become concerned about the way the party is going.
He said: “I was expelled from Labour because of the increasing lack of democracy in New Labour – anyone who dared to be critical was drummed out.
“But the SNP is very centralised – if you're not in the inner clique you're treated with suspicion. What has happened to the SNP is they have become a bit institutionalised – a bit like Labour used to be when it controlled Holyrood, Westminster MPs and most local authorities.”
He has put himself forward for the AFI Lothian list.
"If we could get a bit of traction and if Alex Salmond said something nice about us we might pick up half a dozen MSPs across Scotland, or even more if the conditions were right.
“Our only policy is to push for independence and push the SNP government which is likely to be returned in May but may not have a majority and may require the support of pro-independence MSPs. The Greens in the past have offered that support, but we could well be in the position of holding the balance of power.
"There is a lot of discontent among the SNP membership and among the wider Yes community which is looking for an outlet so we're hopeful we can pick up some support from that.”
He said the SNP’s decision to put Bame candidates top of four regional lists and disabled candidates top of the other four meant Glasgow councillor Graham Campbell was number one on the Lothian list despite winning just 3.3 per cent of the votes in a ballot of members while Angus Robertson won 23.1 per cent of the votes but was second on the list.
“Graham Campbell couldn’t stand in Glasgow because Glasgow was reserved for a disabled candidate so he came to Edinburgh and got 3.3 per cent of the votes but is top of the list. Ironically, Angus, who is seen as heir apparent to Nicola Sturgeon, is standing in Edinburgh Central but that's quite a marginal seat so he may not win it, but if he doesn't win he's not top of the list, he's second to Graham Campbell. So even if they got a list MSP it wouldn’t be Angus.”