Two high profile Edinburgh SNP councillors in battle to stand for same Holyrood seat

Edinburgh’s transport chief and the Capital’s second in command for education are due to face off in a battle to stand for the SNP at the 2021 Holyrood elections.
Alison Dickie (left) and Lesley Macinnes (right) are aiming to be the SNP candidate for Edinburgh SouthernAlison Dickie (left) and Lesley Macinnes (right) are aiming to be the SNP candidate for Edinburgh Southern
Alison Dickie (left) and Lesley Macinnes (right) are aiming to be the SNP candidate for Edinburgh Southern

Lesley Macinnes and Alison Dickie, transport convener and education vice convener respectively at Edinburgh City Council, are among a seven strong candidate list for SNP members to choose from as their candidate for Edinburgh Southern.

Among the names include Doug Thomson, a businessman and husband of the editor of Holyrood magazine, Mandy Rhodes, former Westminster candidate who lost to Ian Murray in 2019, Catriona MacDonald, and the deputy leader of Clackmannanshire Council, Donald Balsillie.

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Both Mr Thomson and Cllr Dickie stood against Ms MacDonald for the nomination for Edinburgh Southern ahead of the 2019 General Election.

The other candidates are Irshad Ahmed, who is also standing against incumbent SNP MSP Ash Denham and the council’s housing convener Kate Campbell in Edinburgh East and activist Andrew Ewen.

The candidates, should they successfully win the nomination, will be standing against Scottish Labour’s Daniel Johnson who won the seat from the SNP’s Jim Eadie in 2016 with a majority of just over 1,100 votes.

The seat is viewed as being extremely winnable by party insiders, but faces the challenge of what one called “bedded-in” support for Labour through the constituencies significant overlaps with Ian Murray’s Westminster seat.

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Cllr Macinnes, who has been the centre of controversy around her radical transport policies while transport convener, said the number of candidates was testament to the talent on show in the party.

She said: “The other parties seem to be scrabbling but we have the luxury to choose the very best out of that number.

"I welcome the competition and that we will have a good quality debate and we get the best person for the job.

"I recognise that I have been introducing a really radical policy agenda, but it is more popular than you might think. There is very strong support for a move towards more sustainable transport and low carbon infrastructure.

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Cllr Dickie, who lost Marco Biagi’s Edinburgh Central seat to the then leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson by just 610 votes, said she was standing again to make a difference for people.

She said: “I will come and show what I stand for which is education, fairness and independence. I always say we have to fight for every single vote on the doorsteps, but you graft like no other and that is the only way you win an election.

"It is about speaking with people and getting the message out there and helping people understand what you are about.”

Ms MacDonald, who came a distant second behind Ian Murray in the 2019 General Election in Edinburgh South, said Europe and Brexit was key to winning the seat.

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She said: "Scotland has a better future ahead as an independent nation in Europe. My experience as a small business owner here in Edinburgh Southern means I have first-hand knowledge of the real consequences of political and economic challenges like Brexit and COVID-19.

"That's why I want to build a better future for Scotland - one that protects our vital public services and puts our communities and local businesses first.”

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