SNP Scottish Parliament selections – 2 MSPs deselected so far as Salmond endorses one challenger

The SNP is currently choosing its candidates for the Scottish Parliament. Like the Liberal Democrats, they allow challenges of sitting parliamentarians. Two MSPs have been deselected so far. Of greatest interest to Liberal Democrat fortunes is the deselection of Colin Keir in Edinburgh Western. The seat will now be fought by Toni Giulani who had the backing of former SNP leader and first minister Alex Salmond. In our party it would simply not be permitted for a senior, powerful party figure to take such an influential public stance in a selection.

SNP parliamentarians already have a fairly draconian disciplinary code to obey. They are not allowed to publicly criticise any decisions of the group and have had very few rebels in parliamentary votes. Their MSPs are, on the whole, pretty compliant. When two of them voted against the party’s new position on NATO in a vote at their conference, they resigned from the party. It now seems that if their faces don’t fit, key players will contribute to your demise.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is our candidate in Edinburgh Western. He also tops the party’s Lothian regional list. Although we lost Mike Crockart in Edinburgh West in May, the SNP’s margin of victory was comparatively small, our West campaign organisation is pretty strong and the SNP have given up any benefits of incumbency. 

The one big loser of the SNP’s election triumph was Shirley Anne Somerville, then a Lothians list MSP. The SNP won so many constituencies that she was out of a job. With the party dong so well in the polls, other list MSPs such as Christian Allard in the North East, may well be on course to have the same thing happen to them.  Allard is challenging not one but two sitting MSPs, Maureen Watt in Aberdeen South and Kincardine and Stewart Stevenson in Banff and Buchan.

In Angus, sitting MSP Nigel Don was defeated by Brechin councillor Mairi Evans. It’s safe to say that local Liberal Democrats Sanjay Samani and David May were underwhelmed by this news, as the Montrose Review reports. Sanjay told them:

I am not surprised that Nigel Don has been ditched by local SNP members. He has not been standing up for us in Angus and Mearns.

As a junior Transport Minister and member of the Scottish Parliament’s Petition Committee he twice tried to shut down Jill Fotheringham’s petition for the Laurencekirk flyover.

He sat on his hands while the SNP government introduced the disastrous single Police force. He did nothing while they shut Angus and Mearns services like police counters, Sheriff’s courts and slashed Angus college places.

However, I worry that Mairi Evans will make absolutely no difference. The SNP are putting candidates who will not rock the boat in place up and down the country.

David added:

I have been campaigning for people not only in Montrose but across all of Angus. Despite the huge SNP government underspend we in the council are still being faced with massive cuts to our essential education and social work services.

Furthermore the centralisation of the police, the loss of traffic wardens and our police counters, along with cuts in places at our colleges and still no action over the much needed flyover at Laurencekirk all show we do not want an SNP MSP who votes how their party tells them to. We need an MSP who will fight for Angus.

It will be interesting to see what effect these selection tussles have on the dynamics of the SNP campaigns. Certainly, they have many members in each seat in Scotland and they have so far managed to deliver fairly stellar air wars in recent years. What’s interesting, though, is that their growth in membership has not seen a shift in power at all. The SNP has centralised everything that sits still for more than 30 seconds while in Government and all the power in the party seems to rest with a small number of people at its centre, Sturgeon, her husband Peter Murrell who’s the party’s chief executive, Shona Robison, an old friend of Nicola’s from university and current health minister and her husband, Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie call most of the shots. Given that this is a movement with 100,000 plus members, there is a worrying lack of debate and discussion of ideas. It may be that some Liberal Democrats envy the SNP’s rigid message discipline, but I do wonder whether such compliance is healthy.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Jonathan Waddell 20th Aug '15 - 3:00pm

    I’m a liberal because i am disgusted by conformity and always have been. My rebellious nature sometimes gets me in danger for being a contrarian but nonetheless, it beggars belief how a movement can be so strong for so few ideas and such little inclusion.

  • I think the SNP will keep it together through the elections next year, but, longer term, it is going to be more challenging for them. The new members seem to be generally people who became enthused through the referendum campaign, and (rightly or wrongly) see independence as the means by which they can achieve their political goals. If a promise of another referendum isn’t included in the 2016 manifesto, it will be difficult for some of them. At best, there will be a leaking of members who simply choose not to renew, at worst it could break out into the civil war which the SNP has had a bit of a history of doing.

  • A read of the Independent today suggests there might even be a Westminster by-election in Edinburgh West before the Holyrood elections..

  • What is our membership total in Scotland? How many are active? How does it compare with the SNP, Labour and the Conservatives? What can we currently reasonably expect next May.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 20th Aug '15 - 8:52pm

    Our membership was at a low of 2700 at one point but is now around 4000. We’ve had 1000 new members which is a lower proportion than south of the border, but we are doing our bit for the LibDemFightback.

  • Caron, I am sad to read that you picked up the contagious condition known as I can’t help myself from carping on that the SNP are bad bad bad, don’t you think that after the Lib Dem wipe out in Scotland in the general election and the polls predicting Lib Dem complete extinction at next years Scottish Elections that Lib Dems should be more positive in the message that is being sent out. If Lib Dems go down the same route as The Scottish Labour Party constantly attacking the SNP with negative sniping then the Lib Dems are doomed.

  • Jane Ann Liston 20th Aug '15 - 11:45pm

    Will, you are surely not suggesting that we LibDems should just go along with all the SNP’s ideas, including breaking up the country, regardless of what we believe? Or is the uttering of anything other than ‘The SNP are wonderful’ deemed to be negativity? We are different parties, for goodness sake.

  • Jane, I think that you will find that an Island called the United Kingdom is a union of 4 countries 1 of the countries is called Scotland which was signed up to an agreement called the Union without the people’s consent. Scotland wants to rectify the wrong that was done with this undemocratic agreement . You are welcome to say negative things about the SNP every negative has a positive which is that it strengthens the resolve and increases more support for the SNP and Scotland’s Independence. just because you are different parties doesn’t mean you have to be nasty to the SNP as they are all lovely friendly polite people.

  • Toby Fenwick 21st Aug '15 - 8:26am


    You speak of an undemocratic Act of Union: wasn’t there a democratic referendum last year, in which Scotstoun voted against independence?

  • Thomas Robinson 21st Aug '15 - 9:20am

    Of the SNP, Caron says:

    “there is a worrying lack of debate and discussion of ideas”

    If anybody can point me to anything like the equivalent SNP debate on NATO held by any other party in recent years, I will be very interested-and very surprised. Still, “SNP BAD” should convince the electorate 🙂

  • Thomas Robinson 21st Aug '15 - 9:22am


    Looks like predictive text has done for you-Scotstoun (in Glasgow) probably did vote Yes.

  • Corbyn is closer to SNP policies than any other party….Under Corbyn, Labour may make inroads into SNP votes but I fail to see how LibDem/Tories will…….

  • Jane Ann Liston 21st Aug '15 - 9:53am

    Dear Will

    ‘ … an Island called the United Kingdom is a union of 4 countries’

    Not quite; one of the countries is on a different island.

    ‘Scotland wants to rectify the wrong that was done with this undemocratic agreement .’

    I’d have thought devolution went quite a way to rectifying that, you know. But in any case, surely you cannot be saying that early eighteenth-century standards still apply? Just to take one example, the electorate is a mite larger than it was in 1707.

    I fear that if the Nationalist cause is based upon righting the wrongs of over 3 centuries ago, we could be in deep trouble. I can think of 2 other places where harking back to the perception of what was or wasn’t done 3 or 4 centuries ago has caused serious unrest, including the loss of many lives. An eighteenth century mindset is of no help at all nowadays, and could be very dangerous.

  • Jane Ann Liston 21st Aug ’15 – 9:53am……………….. I fear that if the Nationalist cause is based upon righting the wrongs of over 3 centuries ago, we could be in deep trouble………..

    Much of it is! I remember being in Scotland in the early 60s (when the SNP was a few ‘loonies’) and in many areas the anti-English feeling was always there……Fast forward to Thatcher and it resurfaced with a vengeance; World Cup T-shirts with the slogan, “Anyone but England”, a poll suggesting that a quarter of those asked agreed with ABE, etc… As the historian Eric Hobsbawm observed, dislike of a nation of millions “seems more real as a team of 11 named people”. Consequently, football has become emblematic of ongoing trends such as devolution; Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalism; and English resentment over the West Lothian question…….

  • You know what makes me happy is knowing that Scotland was an Independent Country before and what we want is it returned to its Independence, people in the UK can still come and live and have holidays in Scotland when we become independent we are a friendly people. It is a shame that during the referendum that the Pensioners where scared by the establishment Lib Dems, Tories and Labour that they would not get any pension in an Independent Scotland it was not nice for tha Pensioners who now feel much better supporting the SNP who offer Hope not Fear. I think that you will find that come the next Scottish Independence referendum that the SNP will have in their manifesto prior to the referendum that they will implement a Pensioner Guarantee written into Scottish Legistlation which will always be at a higher level than that in the UK.

  • Interesting post and I agree with much of it, there does appear to be an iron discipline within the elected representatives of the SNP in Holyrood and westminster to toe the party line. I tend to see the non questioning view from within parties as one of the main turn offs from politics for many people. There is a need to get legislation and policy through but to blindly support your party is wrong in all parties as far as I am concerned. I think The SNP will lose members, I was one of them who decided to follow his heart rather than his head in many ways and joined the Lib Dems after the election and Nick Clegg standing down. The SNP will lose members I suspect due to the slowness of change within the party, and the lack of debate in some areas, all parties are guilty of it at conference when motions to debate are chosen. I would prefer a system where all motions are posted online and the members decide which will be debated. I have no issue with members deciding to de-select sitting MSPs etc, that is democracy and is how it goes but I would be concerned if the party decide to try and place their big hitters in seats and limiting choice to ensure it happens, that has no place in selection.

  • Bruce, It took something powerful for Labour supporters to change to SNP it is a cause Independence in this case the cause Independence means the heart is more powerful than the head, I am on the bus to Indepence and I am not getting off until it gets there, why not jump on the bus your welcome there’s still a few seats upstairs .

  • Tony Dawson 21st Aug '15 - 2:43pm

    “In our party it would simply not be permitted for a senior, powerful party figure to take such an influential public stance in a selection.”

    I think, Caron, you perhaps meant:

    “In our party it SHOULD simply not be permitted for a senior, powerful party figure to take such an influential public stance in a selection.”

    Unfortunately many of us know all too well a situation where a very very senior party figure took such a position and the Party constitution was breached in another important area during a selection in a key seat. Thankfully this was some time ago.

  • Jane Ann Liston 21st Aug '15 - 3:52pm

    Dear Will

    ‘ during the referendum that the Pensioners w(h)ere scared by the establishment’

    Is this an example of the SNP’s positive campaigning; claiming that Scots were too scared and too stupid to make a sensible decision?

    ‘… the SNP will have in their manifesto prior to the referendum that they will implement a Pensioner Guarantee written into Scottish Legistlation which will always be at a higher level than that in the UK.’

    May I refer you to George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, a fable where a newly-independent community promised generous pensions to its workers but unfortunately, when it came to the crunch, were either unable or unwilling (or both!) to pay them.

    Yours Liberally and most politely,


  • Hi Jane,

    I was talking to one of my auties who is Scottish and Pensioner the other week and she was so scared that she would lose her pension if she voted Yes that she voted No mainly because Gordon Brown frightened her which she now says was a stupid thing to do, and if the SNP implement the PensIoner Guarantee into Scottish Legistlation she will vote Yes the next time for Scottish Independence. I am reading a funny book by Neil Forsyth called ‘Delete This at your Peril when I finish it I will have a bash at ‘Animal Farm’.

    Yours SNP and mega politely,


  • nvelope2003 21st Aug '15 - 9:23pm

    Will: I think the Liberal Democrats have misjudged the situation in many ways but it is not true to say that all SNP people are polite and friendly although many of them may be.

  • nvelope, don’t worry I am edumacating SNP friends in the art of politeness they are picking up good manners quickly because the SNP way is the happy way towards Scottish Independence.

  • Tony is, as always meaningfully accurate and polite. However, there is one part where I would totally disagree with him and that is when he says ‘Unfortunately many of us know all too well a situation where a very, very senior party figure took such a position’ and then ‘Thankfully this was some time ago’. Unless he is thinking of a totally different seat to me we have very little to be thankful for, as the seat in question was Sheffield Hallam, and we all know where the successful candidate there left us, and without any means of propelling our canoe.

  • nvelope2003 23rd Aug '15 - 3:16pm

    Will: Your aunty might not lose her pension but if the Scottish Government did not have enough money to pay for all the present social services then it might be reduced. This is what happened in Ireland when it became independent in 1922 but I guess the SNP are prepared for any sacrifice, especially if someone else has to make it.

  • nvelope, dont want to be morose but in Scotland’s case it would cost neutral as the mortality rate in Scotland is higher than the rest of the UK probably down to the frying pan culture, there is an area in Glasgow called the Calton that has a higher mortality rate than that of the Gaza Strip believe it or not, so the early departure of Scots means they pay in more than they take out of their current pension, so what I suggest is affordable and cost negative and the SNP would be able to implement the new Scottish Old Age Pension Guarantee

  • nvelope2003 24th Aug '15 - 8:57pm

    Will: WOW ! It takes my breath away. What can one say?

  • Humza Mohammed 27th Aug '15 - 10:57am

    No women or BME candidates in winnable seats/list positions. The Scottish Lib Dems whitewash themselves yet again. Shameful.

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