A procedural change in the selection of SNP candidates suggests that we are still some weeks or even months away from having any SNP Westminster parliamentary candidates in place for the 2015 General Election campaign.
The Herald reports that the 60,000 or so new members of the party since the referendum will be allowed to vote and actively encouraged to participate in the selection of candidates. The party leadership is fully expected to recommend waiving the “13 month rule” (a minimum period of membership before full voting rights are given) when the party gathers for its annual conference in Perth on 13-15 November.
At least two of the three candidates for the deputy leadership of the SNP – Keith Brown and Stewart Hosie – have both stated their support for new members to be actively involved in the selection process. In a recent campaign video, Stewart Hosie made the issue one of the central planks of his election platform.
Whether speculation that Westminster SNP candidates have already been pre-selected is correct or not, clearly the process to select PPCs is going to be further delayed until nearer Christmas or even into the New Year to allow for wider selection contests. With the SNP enjoying a significant post-referendum bounce in support and continued internal problems within the Scottish Labour Party following the surprise resignation of Johann Lamont, it is forecast that the SNP could potentially make significant gains on polling day. With improved prospects of victory in a number of seats, there could be heightened interest in standing for selection. In recent days there has even been speculation that Alex Salmond could seek a return to the House of Commons after he avoided ruling out running for a Westminster seat.