SNP MSP ‘serious’ about fighting English seat

Christine Grahame & Alex Salmond at the Penicuik Yes Shop.
Christine Grahame & Alex Salmond at the Penicuik Yes Shop.

Borders SNP MSP Christine Grahame claims she has received “loads of supportive messages” after revealing her desire to stand for the English seat of Berwick in next May’s General Election.

The veteran former lawyer, elected as the MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale in 2011, first revealed she had offered to contest the constituency – held by Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith – during a fringe meeting at the recent SNP conference in Perth.

At that time she claimed her motive was to convince broadcasters of the unfairness of excluding her party’s new leader, Nicola Sturgeon, from any of the UK-wide televised debates in the run-up to the Westminster vote.

“I have offered to stand as a candidate in Berwick so we [the SNP] can get equal coverage by going for a UK seat outwith Scotland,” said Ms Grahame at the meeting.

This week she revealed she had written to her party’s national secretary and was awaiting a reply. She believed her unprecedented candidature would require the blessing of the SNP’s national executive committee.

“I await consideration by the SNP of my proposal which is a serious suggestion,” said Ms Grahame. “I have already had loads of supportive messages.”

She went on: “I want to reflect the similarities between the requirements of Berwick and its near neighbours in the Borders.

“I would, as always, be campaigning to win the [Berwick] seat, but would continue in my role as a constituency MSP. I know the good that devolution can bring and would fight to bring this to Berwick and the north of England.

“In addition, I believe we need to ensure that good cross-border relations continue. My focus is on social justice and democracy which, of course, crosses borders.”

Scorn on Ms Grahame’s proposal to contest the seat was poured this week by her Holyrood predecessor, Jeremy Purvis – a Berwick native who was elevated to the House of Lords last year.

He said: “It seems a remarkable move from someone who worked so hard to become a Borders MSP. If anyone was looking for evidence that the SNP is an anti-English party, then sending Christine Grahame to Berwick should do the trick.”