Grahame’s Berwick bid denied

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Christine Grahame’s bid to stand as an SNP candidate in the English constituency of Berwick at the General Election has been scuppered – by her own party, writes Andrew Keddie.

The MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale had sought permission from the SNP’s National Executive to contest the seat, which has been held by the Lib Dem Sir Alan Beith for the past 33 years.

With Sir Alan standing down, Ms Grahame believed her candidature would help convince broadcasters of the “unfairness” of excluding her party’s new leader Nicola Sturgeon from participating in any of the UK-wide televised debates in the run-up to the Westminster vote in May next year.

But at the weekend, she revealed her proposal had been ruled out by SNP top brass, a decision, she claimed “which is likely to disappoint numerous local residents who had urged me to stand”.

She also insisted her bid had been well received by the newly-formed North-East Party which is seeking devolution for 12 constituencies – including Berwick – in that region.

“I am disappointed, but not surprised that the SNP’s governing body has rejected my offer,” said Ms Grahame.

“As someone who is English born, I had wanted to stand to promote devolution for the north-east and to lay to rest the scare stories about Scotland cutting itself off from England in the event of independence.

“I, of course, accept the ruling and have contacted Hilton Dawson, chairman of the North-East Party and former Labour MP, offering to assist them with their campaign if they think it would be helpful.”