Concern over speedy choice of candidate

THE INTEGRITY and ethics of both the Arbroath branch of the Scottish National Party and their Arbroath West and Letham candidate Ewan Smith have been called into question by a concerned reader.

James Law, Jamieson Street, Arbroath, contacted this newspaper following the article about Mr Smith’s candidacy which appeared in the issue of February 24.

He stated: “Your article regarding Ewan Smith’s candidacy for the Arbroath West and Letham ward raises many questions and considerable doubt at his and the SNP’s ethics regarding the new school in the west of Arbroath.

“It certainly makes myself and probably others wonder if this has been stage managed? I cannot envisage that Mr Smith just walked into the SNP office and declared that he wanted to stand on one issue and could he be a candidate for the SNP, be welcomed with open arms and told: ‘Yes. Of course you can!’”

Mr Law said that his understanding of the way politics works is that first you would have to become a member of the party, then go through time and process for affiliation. You would have to be nominated by other members, take part in hustings to say why you should be nominated and then be selected by votes by members.

He continued: “I believe this process would take months and it is more likely that Mr Smith’s sudden joining the SNP is more akin to man landing on Mars and declaring he will open a new school on May 3.

“Perhaps Mr Smith and the SNP can answer questions as to why no declaration of intent on Mr Smith’s or the SNP’s party agenda can be fully explained.

“I feel that if it was the case that the latter has not declared an interest either to the general public or indeed in the council chambers, their standing in the forthcoming election would be questionable, would it not?”

Responding to the criticism Ewan Smith said he appreciated that Mr Law was fully entitled to his opinion and added he would like to hear from him.

“I’d welcome him to contact me direct to discuss it further. Many hundreds of people contacted me and other parents on Muirfield Action Group over the past year but I haven’t yet had the pleasure of hearing from Mr Law until now,” he said.

“He can get me any time by e-mailing or by contacting me through my Facebook page ‘Vote Ewan Smith SNP’.

“My motives for opposing the new school and for subsequently choosing to stand for a party that mirrors my beliefs are very clear. I have two young children and their school Muirfield has been under the threat of closure for three years.

“I’ve also lived a few hundred yards from the proposed site of the new school - on one of the busiest and most dangerous roads in the town - for over six years. This issue directly impacted on my family and I wasn’t alone. There were several hundreds of people directly affected who were disillusioned by the way it was being handled.

“When we spoke out the only councillors who consistently listened to us were Bob Spink and the SNP.”

Carnoustie councillor Helen Oswald, leader of the SNP Group on Angus Council, revealed that the process which led to Mr Smith standing was all above board.

“Mr Smith says he has always favoured the SNP and was prompted to join the party by the SNP councillors’ stance on the Arbroath schools issue,” she commented.

“The party has a process through which selection of candidates is made and all members of the SNP are entitled to offer themselves as candidates. An assessment is made as to their suitability and once this is complete, they become approved potential candidates.

“If a ward is offered more candidates than they intend to put up there will be an internal election by its members. This process may or may not include a hustings and the process will take approximately a month.

“I understand for Arbroath and Letham, there were only two potential candidates, Alex King and Ewan Smith and there was no need for an internal election therefore they are the candidates.”