Failed SNP bid to stand in Berwick was about publicity not devolution, says Lib Dem

SNP's Christine Grahame had hoped to stand in Berwick at May's General Election but the move was vetoed by her party

Julie Porksen, from Hepscott
Julie Porksen, from Hepscott

A failed SNP bid to contest a Northumberland constituency was about getting more publicity and nothing else, a Lib Dem has warned.

MSP Christine Grahame, who represents Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale for Nicola Sturgeon’s party, was hopeful she could stand for election in Berwick-upon-Tweed at the General Election in May.

The half-English and half-Scottish politician told reporters she had a lot in common with voters south of the border.

She said she was pro-devolution to the North East and wanted to help the region fight for more control, however, the SNP has since vetoed the move.

The SNP admits the bid would have given her party more television coverage and added she would give Hilton Dawson, who leads the newly-formed North East Party, assistance in the run-up to polling day in May.

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

“I, of course, accept the ruling and have today 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.”

While Conservative candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she would welcome competition in the fight to succeed Sir Alan Beith, Lib Dem Julie Porksen said the SNP had no place standing in Berwick.

She said: “I do not consider that the lack of an SNP candidate will make a huge difference to the Berwick constituency given their motivation was reported to be about gaining a place in national TV debates rather than helping local residents from Belsay to Berwick.

“Last year’s independence referendum did help stimulate the debate on devolution within England.

“I do believe in the long-standing Lib Dem policy of devolving power as close to local communities as possible.

“Piecemeal devolution to city regions does neglect rural areas and I hope a sensible rather than speedy solution to devolution will be found in order that everyone’s views, rural and urban and from across the political spectrum are effectively represented.”

Scott Dickinson, a councillor for Northumberland County Council, will stand in Berwick for Labour.


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