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Monday, August 30, 1999 Published at 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK

UK: Scotland

Ewing to stand in by-election

Annabelle Ewing's mother Winnie won Hamilton in 1967

The daughter of Winnie Ewing, who won the seat of Hamilton for the Scottish National Party more than 30 years ago, has been chosen to stand as the party's candidate in the Hamilton South by-election.

Annabelle Ewing will follow in her mother's footsteps by fighting the safe Labour seat at a mid-term by-election against a popular Labour Government.

Her party is hoping she will make the same breakthrough as her mother did 32 years ago with a win which marked the start of the SNP's rise throughout the 1970s.

Ms Ewing was selected unanimously from a shortlist of two by the constituency's SNP members at a meeting on Monday in Hamilton.

[ image: The SNP's fortunes rose after Winnie Ewing's 1967 win]
The SNP's fortunes rose after Winnie Ewing's 1967 win
Speaking afterwards, she said: "Hamilton South is a two-horse race between the SNP and London Labour, and Labour will pay a price for their arrogant fiddling of the by-election date."

The SNP leader Alex Salmond recently accused Tony Blair of 'fiddling' the timing of the by-election in a formal letter of protest.

He was angry that the poll - being held after the elevation of Defence Secretary George Robertson to the Lords - will coincide with the party's annual conference next month.

Annabelle, a 39-year-old lawyer, will be the fourth member of the Ewing family to become a parliamentarian if she is successful.

Her mother Winnie, brother Fergus and sister-in-law Margaret are all Holyrood MSPs. And Winnie was also a Euro-MP until retiring at the last Euro elections.

SNP deputy leader John Swinney said: "Annabelle will be fighting hard to win for Hamilton South and for Scotland as a strong and positive alternative to a party which takes its orders from London."

The selection came on the day Labour launched its campaign for the seat vacated by Defence Secretary and incoming Nato Secretary General George Robertson after his elevation to the Lords.

Dewar 'upbeat'

Scotland's First Minister, Donald Dewar, said he was upbeat and confident about the campaign but admitted all parties were worried about a low turnout.

He said the chances of a high turnout on 23 September were better than in the dark of mid-November - the next available date if Labour had not chosen to use the date-setting process for which it has been fiercely criticised by the SNP.

Launching its campaign, Mr Dewar and Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid highlighted the credentials of Labour candidate Bill Tynan, 59, a trade union official.

Mr Tynan said: "I believe the constituents of Hamilton South, like Scots in every part of our nation, recognise the strength we gain from Britain."

Labour is defending a majority of nearly 16,000, in a seat where the second-placed SNP got 18% of a vote at the 1997 General Election.

The Liberal Democrats have already named a councillor, Marilyne Maclaren, as their candidate.

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