Two front-runners to be SNP candidate in North Ayrshire & Arran at May’s UK Election have withdrawn from consideration.
Saltcoats man Gary O’Rourke, pictured above-left, today (January 29) announced he would no longer be seeking the nomination due to ill health. The news came just two days after another potential candidate, former BBC and ITV presenter John Nicholson (above-right), was selected by the SNP to fight the East Dunbartonshire constituency, where he will be the favourite to unseat Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson.
In a Facebook post to his hundreds of supporters, Gary O’Rourke explained, “I've been buoyed by the feedback and good wishes that I've received as a nominee in North Ayrshire and Arran. It was an honour to receive a nomination, and it has been a privilege to meet so many of our members - old and new - and to talk about the great chance we have to take our nation forward in the next few years.
“It's been exciting and invigorating, but, as much as we like to think of ourselves as indestructible, it's also been pretty exhausting. With less than 100 days to go to the election, my health is not at 100%, and it's unlikely to be at 100% in the coming weeks. I love my country, and I love our noble cause for independence, and I want to see all of us giving our all to win the election in May and give a boost to Scotland's chances of a fairer deal on more powers for our Scottish Parliament. If I can't give 100% to that campaign, then frankly, that's not good enough for me.”
Mr O’Rourke expressed his great disappointment at having to withdraw from the contest to be SNP candidate in his home constituency, but gave a commitment to return in the future, saying, “I'll concentrate on getting myself back into peak condition, and hope to be able to offer myself as a potential candidate for another election very soon.”
The withdrawal of Gary O’Rourke and John Nicholson leaves five people contesting the internal party election to be the SNP candidate for North Ayrshire & Arran on May 7th:
Patricia Gibson: wife of Cunninghame North’s SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson.
Rosemary Hunter: an independent financial advisor who lives in Dunblane and is originally from Troon.
Gareth Kane: an SNP activist in the North Ayrshire & Arran constituency.
Malcolm Kerr: a Doctor who has been based at the Brodick GP practice on the Isle of Arran since 1984.
Ross Noble: originally from the Three Towns but currently working as a Conference Interpreter with the European Commission in Brussels.
With a massive surge in support for the SNP since last September’s Independence Referendum, polls predict the party is on course to record a landslide victory in Scotland at the UK Election. A poll of polls published last Monday (January 26) by Sky News indicated the SNP could win as many as 53 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster constituencies, including North Ayrshire & Arran.
The local seat has been held by Labour’s Katy Clark since 2005. At the last UK Election, in 2010, Ms Clark secured a majority of almost 10,000.