AN SNP councillor has failed to be re-selected by his party’s local branch members ahead of this May’s East Lothian Council elections.
Steven Brown, who has represented the Preston, Seton, Gosford ward on the council for the last five years, was snubbed by local branch members, who instead chose two new faces as candidates for the party in a ward which covers Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton, and Longniddry.
Social media was awash with claims of a split in the Preston, Seton, Gosford and Fa’side branch of the SNP, and of “open warfare”, after the Courier revealed last week that another established councillor in the same branch found himself dropped from the ballot paper.
Councillor Kenny McLeod, who has represented the Fa’side ward for a decade, was initially taken off the selection ballot after branch members, who were deciding on candidates at a meeting, were wrongly told they could not vote for him because he was not in attendance.
Mr McLeod then had to collect 20 signatures from branch supporters to have his name put back on the ballot before a postal vote was issued and he was successful.
The local party has not responded to requests by the Courier to comment on Mr Brown and Mr McLeod’s situations – and has still to officially confirm its chosen candidates.
It is understood that Mr Brown’s name was on the ballot paper for his ward but newcomers Janis Wilson and Neil Gilbert were chosen by members instead to stand as candidates in the Preston, Seton, Gosford ward.
In the newly formed Tranent, Macmerry and Wallyford ward – which replaces Fa’side this year, due to new boundary changes – the SNP candidates are Mr McLeod and newcomer Linda Watson.
Mr Brown said he was disappointed not to have been selected in the neighbouring Preston, Seton, Gosford ward but added: “This was a democratic process and I was not fortunate enough to be selected.”
However, it is understood his supporters are extremely angry at how he has been treated. One told the Courier: “He’s worked hard over the years but has been stabbed in the back by the new members who joined during the referendum and the Scottish Parliament elections.”
Mr Brown and Mr McLeod have both come under pressure from new members ahead of this year’s election, amid claims some believed there was a need for ‘new blood’.
The SNP has also been making an effort to bring more female candidates forward.
DJ Johnston Smith, former SNP Holyrood election candidate for East Lothian, took to Facebook to congratulate Mr Gilbert, saying: “I look forward to campaigning along side you and Janis Wilson for Preston, Seton, and Gosford to help get the pair of you elected in May. Commiserations also to Steven Brown, both you and Neil were fantastic candidates who only want the very best for Preston, Seton and Gosford but sadly only one place was available on this occasion.”