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Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny to challenge Stuart McMillan for SNP Greenock and Inverclyde seat nomination

Chris McEleny - Image credit: Inverclyde Council

Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny to challenge Stuart McMillan for SNP Greenock and Inverclyde seat nomination

Councillor Chris McEleny has announced he is putting himself forward to become the SNP candidate for the seat of Greenock and Inverclyde at next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

McEleny, who will stand down as leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde Council next month, has twice stood for depute leader of the party and served two terms on the SNP’s national executive committee (NEC).

He is also a key proponent within the SNP of a ‘plan B’ route to independence as an alternative to getting agreement from the Prime Minister for a referendum.

In an open letter to constituents, McEleny said: “I have a strong track record gained over the past decade as your Inverclyde Council SNP leader.

“It would be the privilege of my life to represent our whole community in our nations Parliament.

“The Coronavirus has affected each and every one of us and it has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives.

“I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness people have shown across our community to help keep each other safe.

“Inverclyde has so much potential and re-industrialising our waterfront to create quality jobs and attract much needed investment into the area would be one of my top priorities as part of a wider strategy of reducing the levels of deprivation in our area and increasing the quality of life for everyone.”

With the Greenock and Inverclyde seat currently held by SNP MSP Stuart McMillan, McEleny’s bid for the nomination goes against normal party protocol of not challenging a sitting SNP MSP.

However, it has happened before that a sitting MSP lost the nomination to a challenger.

In the 2016 election rural affairs minister Mairi Gougeon took the nomination from incumbent MSP Nigel Don in Angus and retained the seat for the SNP, but in the same election Tony Giuliani replaced sitting MSP Colin Keir as candidate in Edinburgh Western and lost the seat to Alex Cole-Hamilton of the Lib Dems.

This comes as Edinburgh Central also looks to be contentious battleground for the candidate nomination ahead of next year’s election.

Former SNP depute leader Angus Robertson and Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry have both announced they are seeking the nomination as the party’s candidate for the seat.

Edinburgh Central is currently held by former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is standing down as an MSP at the 2021 election, so it will be a key SNP target.

Robertson launched his campaign for the nomination earlier this week, but Cherry tweeted that she would not be making any announcements at the moment “out of respect for party procedures & the members of @EdinCentralSNP”, as the candidate selection process is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, proposals for new party procedures being considered by the national executive could make Cherry’s situation more difficult.

According to a report in The Times, the SNP NEC will decide tonight whether to impose a new requirement for MPs who wish to stand for Holyrood next year to raise £10,000 of funding themselves to ease the burden on their local party of campaigning for a by-election in addition to the Holyrood election.

If the change is agreed, it would also require candidates to resign as an MP before the election so that the Westminster by-election could be held on the same day as the Holyrood election.

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