Tory election blunder reveals ‘no hope’ candidates

Michael Ancram and his wife and supporters celebrate his election success in 1979. Picture: Albert Jordan
Michael Ancram and his wife and supporters celebrate his election success in 1979. Picture: Albert Jordan
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TWO former Conservative-held constituencies in the Capital are included in a list of “non-target” seats revealed after a blunder on the party’s website.

Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West were named as constituencies the party has apparently given up on ahead of the general election in May.

They were among a total of 101 constituencies whose candidates’ pictures were discovered on the website tagged “non-target candidates”.

But Edinburgh South candidate Miles Briggs insisted the party had deliberately avoided listing any target seats for the forthcoming election after it had named 12 last time and ended up winning just one.

The Tories have not held Edinburgh South since Michael Ancram lost it to Labour’s Nigel Griffiths in 1987. But Mr Briggs said he expected a close result on May 7 and claimed: “It could be between me and the SNP.”

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray said he was surprised the constituency appeared on the “non-target” list and from what he could see the Tories were targeting the seat. He said: “They got a good vote at the last election and given the collapse of the Lib Dems, I’m sure this is one of their key target seats.

“But as a strong local MP, standing on my record, I’m confident the people of Edinburgh South will vote for Ian Murray.”

Edinburgh West was a Tory seat until Lord James Douglas Hamilton lost it to Lib Dem Donald Gorrie in 1997.

Current Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart said the website blunder may have been “a rather unfortunate slip” for the Conservatives. But he said: “It does reflect the reality I find every week on the doorsteps.

“It’s telling that despite the collapse of the Labour vote locally, the Conservatives still can’t manage to launch a meaningful campaign.”

He claimed traditional Labour and Conservative voters were turning to him “to deliver the message to the SNP that when we voted No, we meant it”.

Lindsay Paterson, Tory candidate in the seat, said she was fighting “a strong campaign” based on local issues.

She said: “I stood against Gordon Brown in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath last time so I’m good at taking on a challenge.

“What is clear is in Edinburgh West the Conservatives are fighting a good campaign and the incumbent MP is struggling to hold on.”

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “We will be fighting hard in every seat to ensure we increase our share of the vote.”