Angus Robertson wins bitterly contested SNP selection battle in Edinburgh Central

Angus Robertson has won the SNP candidacy for the coveted seat of Edinburgh Central, beating his closest challenger, former MSP Marco Biagi, in what was a bitterly divided internal battle.

Angus Robertson, the SNP’s former Westminster leader, has won the selection battle in Edinburgh Central
Angus Robertson, the SNP’s former Westminster leader, has won the selection battle in Edinburgh Central

The result will see Mr Robertson return to frontline politics as an MSP if he is successful in beating the as-yet-undecided Scottish Conservative replacement for the House of Lords bound former leader Ruth Davidson.

The seat is the SNP’s number one target for Holyrood 2021.

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A victory in the next year’s election would see the return of a firm ally of the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon before being unseated by current leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross.

The former deputy leader and Westminster leader of the SNP has been out of frontline politics for nearly three years.

A win for both in the Holyrood elections in May would see the two local rivals reunite on the national stage.

Mr Robertson’s election will also see Ms Sturgeon gain a ready-made replacement for one of the key empty positions in her cabinet should the SNP win power following the resignation of several of her ministers including Constitution Secretary Michael Russell and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

Reacting to his selection at the first stage of counting to become the SNP candidate for Edinburgh Central Angus Robertson said: “Many thanks to grassroots Edinburgh Central SNP members for selecting me as their candidate for the next Scottish Parliament elections.

"I’d also like to thank my fellow nominees and look forward to campaigning with them and local activists to win the seat from the Tories.

“It is a huge honour to be selected to run in the constituency where I grew up and where I live with my family. I understand the different issues that matter to communities across Edinburgh Central and will work hard to represent them and all constituents if I am elected as MSP.

“At present the Tories hold the seat with a tiny 610 vote majority, and I believe we can win here with the support of voters of all parties who don’t want to see the area represented by a pro-Brexit MSP that opposes Scottish democracy.

“Even at this early stage I would like to encourage people to volunteer and help with the campaign. Please visit my campaign website at http://angusrobertson.org to sign-up, volunteer and donate if you are able. Together we can win Ruth Davidson’s seat from the Tories and secure a pro-independence SNP majority at Holyrood.

The battle for the Edinburgh Central selection has driven a wedge between the warring factions of the party following high level disagreements and disputes over the fairness of the process.

The decision by the SNP’s national executive committee to make resignation of a Westminster seat a prerequisite for standing for Holyrood selection has exposed some fundamental wounds in the party.

The decision was described by early challenger to the former Moray MP, the Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry, as having “hobbled” her own hopes of gaining the seat in the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Cherry is seen as a potential future successor to Ms Sturgeon, as is Mr Robertson, but falls on the fundamentalist side of the independence debate rather than favouring the First Minister’s more cautious approach.

After she pulled out, several local members rallied around the last SNP MSP to represent the constituency Marco Biagi, who is well liked by local activists.

The victory for Mr Robertson can be viewed as a victory for Ms Sturgeon and her preferred take on the independence issue, but the real test will come in May.

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