SNP will not contest Berwick election seat

SNP politician Christine Grahame’s proposal to contest the Berwick constituency at next year’s General Election has been ruled out.

Ms Grahame, who represents Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale in the Scottish Parliament, had previously expressed her willingness to be a candidate in the English seat currently held by long-serving Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith.

She felt it would secure the SNP leadership a place in any UK-wide television debates to be screened in the run-up to May. That way the SNP could claim to be standing right across the UK because it would have candidates in England as well as Scotland.

However, the idea has been rejected by the SNP executive.

Ms Grahame said:

“I am disappointed but not surprised that the SNP’s governing body has rejected my offer. I, of course, accept the ruling.”

The idea sparked debate among voters on both sides of the border.

The proposal certainly captured the imagination south of the border, with some predicting she could collect a significant numbers of votes from disaffected Berwickers.

While she was never likely to win a seat that is seen as a two-horse race between Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Liberal Democrat Julie Porksen, an SNP candidate might have been able to pick up support from voters disillusioned, most recently, by the failure of the coalition partners to commit to dualling the last 25 miles of the A1 up to Berwick.

Ms Graham’s proposal also received a favourable reaction from the North-East Party, which seeks greater devolution for Berwick and the north east of England generally.

She added:

“I have contacted Hilton Dawson, of the North-East Party, offering to assist them in their campaign if they think that would be helpful.

“But to stand in Berwick 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 am English born) I required approval from my party’s executive.”

Ms Grahame is no stranger to Berwick’s political scene.

In September she took part in the BBC’s pre-referendum ‘Scotland and Us’ debate at The Maltings, arguing that Scotland breaking away from England would be good for the area and would stimulate the case for devolution of powers to the north of England.

And in the run up to the 2008 general election she lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for the town to “return to the fold” although politicians warned it would be too complicated and would cause major upheaval.

Source –  Berwick Advertiser,  12 Dec 2014

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