MUSSELBURGH’S MSP will attempt to win the constituency for a third time during next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

Colin Beattie has been selected unopposed as the SNP’s candidate for the Midlothian North and Musselburgh seat.

Mr Beattie has held the seat since it was created in 2011, defeating Labour’s Bernard Harkins, who finished second to him at both that year’s election and the 2016 vote.

Talking about his selection as candidate, the SNP MSP was “both honoured and delighted to be selected to stand again”.

He said: “With my dedicated team of staff and local members, I know we have made a real difference to the lives of so many individuals and families and I am proud to have done so.

“Covid-19 has hit people, jobs and businesses hard, and it’s crucial that residents here in Midlothian North and Musselburgh know they have an MSP who will fight for economic recovery and will support those hardest hit, particularly a generation of young people who have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic.

“I will be increasingly vocal in my strong defence of our values of equality for all citizens of Scotland against the backdrop of a UK Conservative Government who are ever more detached and out of step with the needs of Scottish people.

“So much is at stake in this election but I am confident that together, as a community, we will prevail.”

Already, Labour has announced that Stevie Curran, who represents the Dalkeith ward on Midlothian Council, will be their candidate.

At the last elections, in 2016, Mr Beattie secured 16,948 votes, with Mr Harkins finishing second with 9,913.

Jeremy Balfour (Conservative) took 6,267, with former East Lothian councillor Jacquie Bell (Liberal Democrat) securing 1,557 votes.

When the constituency was established in 2011 – replacing the previous Midlothian constituency, which became Midlothian North and Musselburgh, and Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale – Mr Beattie held off Mr Harkins by almost 3,000 votes, with Scott Douglas (Conservative), Ian Younger (Liberal Democrat) and Alan Hay (independent) also standing for election.

Keith Brown, SNP depute leader and campaign director, described the upcoming election as “the most important in Scotland’s history”.

He said: “Effective leadership during the global pandemic is proving a real boost to support for an independent Scotland.

“The SNP will continue to focus on what’s important to the people of Scotland, and each and every day we will work hard to retain the trust placed in us.”