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Indyref rerun as No chief takes on SNP

Blair McDougall director of the Better Together campaign holds a sign during campaigning on March 18, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

As the general election approaches, Scottish Labour are taking their battle positions. Douglas Alexander, former cabinet minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been selected as the candidate for East Lothian. Kirsty McNeill, former special adviser to Brown while he was in No. 10, has been selected as the next candidate for Midlothian. But undoubtedly the pick of the battles is in East Renfrewshire where party members have selected Blair McDougall, head of the ‘Better Together’ campaign in 2014, to stand against Kirsten Oswald, the current SNP chair. Talk about a referendum rerun…

The first is likely to be Scotland’s most intense skirmish in next year’s contest. Oswald is one of the most prominent members of the SNP frontbench in Westminster, having moved sideways from the deputy leadership role in December 2022. But her hold on the constituency is far from ironclad. Within the last 10 years alone, the seat has been held by the Nats, Labour and even the Scottish Tories. And given her party’s popularity plummeting in the polls, Oswald certainly has her work cut out with a majority of just over 5,000.

Mr S suspects that the SNP might be feeling a rather unpleasant sense of déjà vu given McDougall’s track record of anti-Nat campaign success. And if it goes anything like the independence referendum ten years ago, we could be in for some dirty tricks and sore losers. Strap in…

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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