Council leader David Parker has been accused of double standards by endorsing the candidature of Lib Dem Michael Moore in today’s general election, writes Andrew Keddie.
Councillor Parker sparked controversy last year when he publicly campaigned for a Yes vote ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, a decision which alienated his fellow Independents as well as Lib Dems on the ruling administration of Scottish Borders Council.
Now Mr Parker, first elected as an SNP councillor in 1996, is lending his support to Mr Moore, a Borders MP since 1997, in a mailshot from the latter which claims that Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk is a straight fight between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.
Although Mr Moore asserts: “The SNP and Labour can’t win”, the latest poll from Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft suggests otherwise, putting Conservative candidate John Lamont, with 30%, narrowly ahead of the SNP’s Calum Kerr (29%), with Mr Moore on 28%.
Mr Parker, who has led the council as an Independent since 2003, says of Mr Moore: “Setting aside party allegiances, it is clear to me that Michael is the best qualified candidate to represent the Borders in parliament.
“He has successfully fought our corner on all key issues for nearly 20 years ... we need Michael back in parliament.”
Mr Parker and Mr Moore completed a sponsored walk together down the length of the Tweed last summer.
The Moore pamphlet also carries a personal, if not political, endorsement from long-time Labour supporter Alistair Moffat, director of the Borders Book Festival and a trustee of the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
“I am not voting for the Liberal Democrats – I am voting for Michael Moore,” states Mr Moffat. “Of all the candidates, only Michael has the national standing we need in these uncertain times.”
Reacting to Mr Parker’s stance, Conservative opposition councillor Gavin Logan told The Southern: “It is significant that Mr Moore is reduced to using someone who says he is an Independent, but was originally a member of the SNP and who actively campaigned for a Yes vote last year.
“We are used to Mr Parker’s double standards in the council, so I suppose we cannot be too surprised he is now supporting somebody who campaigned so vigorously for the No campaign.”