Scotland politics

Labour and SNP pick Dunfermline by-election candidates

Cara Hilton and Shirley-Anne Somerville
Image caption Labour's Cara Hilton and the SNP's Shirley-Anne Somerville will contest the Dunfermline seat

Scottish Labour Party members and SNP members have picked their candidates to fight next month's Dunfermline by-election.

The Holyrood seat was vacated by Bill Walker who was convicted of 23 domestic abuse charges last month.

Sitting councillor Cara Hilton will contest the seat for Labour, while former MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville will represent the SNP.

The by-election will be held on Thursday, 24 October.

Ms Hilton, 38, who represents the Dunfermline South ward on Fife Council, said the constituency needed an MSP who "would work their socks off".

She said: "I look forward to the campaign ahead and to speaking to thousands of local people who are so desperate for an MSP who will move us on from the disgrace of Bill Walker and who will fight for what we need here in Dunfermline."

Ms Somerville, 39, who was an MSP for Lothians between 2007 to 2011, pledged to be a "strong local voice" in the Scottish Parliament if she was elected.

She said: "Should I become be the new MSP for Dunfermline, I will vote to protect the people's policies - the Council Tax freeze, free personal care for older citizens, no tuition fees for young Scots, free bus travel for the over-60s, and no bridge tolls across the Forth."

Walker, 71, of Alloa in Clackmannanshire, was found guilty following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court but initially refused to resign his seat under pressure from campaigners and MSPs, many of whom signed a petition calling for him to go.

The former SNP MSP, who was ejected from the party when the allegations surfaced, denied the charges. He is due to be sentenced on Friday.

In a resignation statement released on 7 September, he said a "media onslaught" made it impossible for him to continue.

Walker was elected as Holyrood's Dunfermline constituency MSP in a surprise victory for the SNP two years ago.

On a night of success for the party he beat the previous Liberal Democrat winner into third place and finished 590 votes above Labour.

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