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Tuesday, June 16, 1998 Published at 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK

UK Politics

SNP names Scots parliament candidates

SNP leader Alex Salmond is among the candidates for the new parliament

The Scottish National Party has revealed its list of candidates for elections to the country's first parliament in nearly 300 years.

Some 175 hopefuls will be standing in the election next May.

A total of 129 parliamentarians will elected by a mixture of first-past-the-post and proportional representation.

Of the SNP candidates, 49 are women and there are 95 first-time candidates. There are also 40 councillors.

Four of the party's present Westminster MPs - Alex Salmond (the current party leader), Andrew Welsh, Alasdair Morgan, and Roseanna Cuningham - are on the list.

A family affair

The candidates include four members of the Ewing nationalist dynasty - Winnie Ewing, the veteran Euro MP, her son Fergus and daughter Annabelle, and her daughter-in-law Margaret, MP for Moray and SNP parliamentary leader at Westminster.

Other candidates include broadcaster Lloyd Quinan, journalist Dorothy-Grace Elder and Gaelic expert Anne Lorne Gillies.

The list also includes Ian Hamilton QC, who as a young man was involved in the disappearance of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey.

Former Westminster MPs Dick Douglas and Margo MacDonald are also seeking election.

One candidate, Blyth Wright, is an expert on avalanches and another, Stuart Ferguson, is described as the person who takes the decision to launch the Arbroath lifeboat.

Backing for independence

At the same time, the SNP said a new poll carried out for it showed record backing for independence and for a referendum on the issue.

Some 55% favoured independence, to 34% against, the SNP said.

The poll, conducted on behalf of the party by System Three among 1,045 adults, also revealed that 82% of those questioned believed a referendum on independence should be held within the first term of the new devolved parliament, to 12% against.

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