The one-time deputy general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party, who joined the SNP in the wake of last year’s independence referendum, will stand in Edinburgh East, currently held by Labour’s Sheila Gilmore with a majority of 9181.
Mr Sheppard, who runs The Stand Comedy Club in York Place, beat SNP councillors Mike Bridgman and Alex Lunn, former MSPs Lloyd Quinan and Bill Wilson and two other hopefuls to win the nomination.
He said nearly 1000 party members had voted in the selection. “I feel excited, elated, a little humble and a bit overwhelmed,” he said. “All these people have put their faith in me and I will make sure I don’t let them down.”
The Evening News revealed in September that Mr Sheppard, who campaigned for a Yes vote in the referendum, had joined the SNP. He said he had gradually drifted away from
Labour and had not been a member of the party for the past ten years.
He insisted he was not a nationalist, but believed the SNP was the best vehicle for representing Scotland’s interests.
Edinburgh East is seen as potentially the SNP’s best chance of getting an MP elected in Edinburgh. The constituency recorded the biggest Yes vote in the city and the party has held the equivalent Holyrood seat since 2007. Mr Sheppard was upbeat about the prospects. He said: “If the election was held today there would be no contest, but things are going to get a lot closer between now and polling day, so there is no room for complacency.
“It’s there to be won. There is an appetite for change both in the city and the country. People are fed up with the Westminster establishment.
“There is a mood to upset the apple cart and that’s what I intend to do.”
He thanked all those who took part in the selection process and paid tribute to the other candidates.
“People were spoiled for choice. It was a very strong field, which is another sign of the party’s strength compared with others.”
Cllr Lunn congratulated Mr Sheppard on his selection. He said: “I can’t wait to get out there knocking doors for him and hopefully winning the seat.”
Edinburgh East, which has been represented by Labour since 1935, includes Craigmillar, Craigentinny, Newcraighall, Prestonfield and Holyrood.
Ms Gilmore said she believed the appetite for change was about a fairer and more just society. “During the referendum a lot of the argument was about means rather than ends,” she said. “We do share a view on what we want to see implemented.
“My message to constituents remains that a vote for any party other than Labour makes it more likely that David Cameron returns to Downing Street.”
The Tories have already chosen James McMordie, who works at Scottish Conservative central office, as their candidate for the seat and the Greens are fielding Peter McColl, who has been Rector of Edinburgh
University since 2011.