Former Labour chief’s bid to oust Kenny MacAskill

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By Rory Reynolds

A FORMER Labour chief has been chosen by the party to attempt to oust Scotland’s beleaguered Justice Secretary at the next election.

Ewan Aitken, who led Edinburgh City Council from 2006 to 2007 will face Kenny MacAskill MSP at the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

The former parish minister defeated the city’s previous Lord Provost Lesley Hinds and ex-councillor Shami Khan to become the candidate for the new Edinburgh Eastern constituency.

MacAskill has held Edinburgh East and Musselburgh for just three years, and is expected to face stiff competition to hold onto his seat.

The Scottish government minister overturned a Labour majority of 6,158 in 2007 to win with 1,382 votes.

However, Aitken, who us currently councillor for Duddingston and Craigentinny, said that the SNP minister has wasted the surge in support he gained at the last election.

He said: “I’m really honoured to have won the nomination and now the work starts.

“I think the SNP is doing so badly at the moment I’m going to win the seat.

“All around me I hear the sound of broken promises.

“I’m on the doorstep a lot and I get a lot of people saying, ‘we tried the SNP and we don’t like it so were coming back.”

Aitken has been a councillor since 1999 and was previously education leader for six years.

In 2006 he became council leader but stepped down the following year after the Lib Dem/SNP coalition took control of the local authority.

Aitken announced his intention to run as MSP last year but faced strong opposition from Lesley Hinds, who had a high profile from serving as Lord Provost to the city.

However on Thursday he defeated Hinds with 51 votes to 33.

He said: “It was a good selection process. It was a proper debate about policy”.

Aitken added that he would be campaigning alongside Sheila Gilmore, Labour’s candidate for the May elections.

The former councillor is defending Gavin Strang’s seat, which he is stepping down from after 40 years as an MP.

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