EDINBURGH Western MSP Colin Keir is facing a battle to be reselected as the SNP’s candidate for the seat at next year’s Holyrood elections.
While other SNP MSPs in the Capital are expected to be adopted without challenge, Mr Keir faces an internal contest with six other hopefuls, including his former parliamentary aide and two city councillors.
It is understood Mr Keir has come in for criticism within the local party over a lack of activity during his time as MSP.
The SNP won Edinburgh Western from the Lib Dems in 2011 with a majority of 2689.
But one activist said: “Colin never expected to get elected and he really hasn’t done much at all, particularly during the referendum, when he was hardly seen. He has just seemed lazy.”
A total of seven people, including Mr Keir, have been nominated for the seat.
They include Toni Giugliano, who worked for Mr Keir at Holyrood, running his office, writing speeches and organising events for him.
Mr Giugliano, 30, is a member of the SNP’s national executive committee, stood in last year’s European Parliament elections and was in charge of setting up pro-independence groups like Polish for Yes and Yes Generation during the referendum campaign.
In a leaflet to members he says: “Holyrood is on the cusp of more powers, and after eight years in government our challenge is to keep on delivering. We must never become complacent. That’s why we need fresh ideas, a robust manifesto and dynamic MSPs who can win over the doubters for independence.”
Also nominated are city council finance convener Alasdair Rankin and leisure convener Richard Lewis; and activists Graham Sutherland, Alison Lindsay and Jamie Szymkowiak.
Cllr Rankin said: “I am seeking the SNP nomination for Edinburgh Western not so much to stand against the incumbent but to stand for some specific priorities. I believe we need above all to protect our elderly, our young and the vulnerable from the effects of cuts.”
Mr Keir said he was surprised at the claim he was lazy and branded it “laughable”. He said he expected to be reselected.
He said: “I have a pretty good record. If anyone has a complaint about my level of work during the referendum, they have never had the strength of conviction to come and speak to me about it.”
He said the issue had never been brought up at a branch meeting and there had never been a motion against him.
Mr Keir said a challenge was to be expected since local party membership had increased from 160 to 1300 since the last time he was selected. “A number of people just want to see a bit of democracy in action,” he said.
Branch convener Barry Haniford said the fact there was a contest should not be seen as a reflection on the sitting MSP.
He said: “This is the democracy of the party. It should be seen as great news that we have strong people coming forward to contest the seat and we are having an open and democratic process. Every constituency wants the strongest possible person to represent the party and the constituency.”