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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 16:22 GMT
Salmond to contest Holyrood seat
Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond said he expected a "tough fight"
SNP leader Alex Salmond is planning to fight the Gordon constituency in the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections.

The Banff and Buchan MP would be taking on the current holder of the seat, Liberal Democrat MSP Nora Radcliffe.

At a meeting in Oldmeldrum on Sunday, Mr Salmond accepted an invitation from local activists to put his name forward for selection.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have dismissed any potential threat posed by Mr Salmond.

A final decision on Mr Salmond's nomination will be made by local nationalist members in the next few weeks.

Gordon is seen by the Scottish National Party as its 18th "most-winnable" seat.

Mr Salmond said he had considered fighting Aberdeen Central, a seat held by Scottish Executive minister Lewis MacDonald, but instead chose Gordon.

The constituency overlaps with his current Westminster seat, with some 10,000 of his present constituents in the Scottish parliamentary seat.

If we win Gordon then the SNP will be well on our way to a famous victory across Scotland
Alex Salmond
SNP leader

A further 6,000 of the Gordon electorate are also in the SNP-held Moray seat at Westminster.

Speaking at the SNP meeting, he said: "I said that I would stand for the Scottish Parliament in this corner of Scotland and that is exactly what I intend to do.

"The issues of the rural economy and services are vital across the north east of Scotland and these will be at the centre of our campaign.

"The SNP need to gain 20 new seats to win that election and become Scotland's leading party.

'Most-winnable'

"The Gordon seat is the 18th most-winnable on that list of potential gains. Therefore, Gordon will be the crucible of the election. If we win Gordon then the SNP will be well on our way to a famous victory across Scotland. "

Mr Salmond said he expected a "tough fight".

"I take nothing for granted, but we intend to win," he said. "I am looking forward enormously to this challenge as is every single local SNP activist."

Nora Radcliffe
Nora Radcliffe is currently the Gordon MSP

He added: "Many thousands of my current constituents are already in this seat.

"The north east is not just my political base but my home and this decision gives me the opportunity to continue to represent this wonderful corner of Scotland."

Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, dismissed Mr Salmond's chances.

He said: "The big question is, can Alex Salmond effectively serve his constituents in Banff and Buchan where he's the MP while simultaneously campaigning in a losing battle in Gordon?"

Mr Salmond is also expected to head the north east SNP list, meaning he could return as an MSP without having to win the Gordon seat.

At the last Holyrood election the SNP came third behind the Conservatives in Gordon.

Dunfermline by-election

The SNP has also named its candidate for the Westminster by-election triggered by the death of Labour MP Rachel Squire.

Former councillor Douglas Chapman, who fought the seat of Dunfermline and West Fife in the May general election, was selected to contest the seat once again.

Mr Chapman, a former councillor for Rosyth West, has lived in Dunfermline for 15 years.

Ms Squire died on 5 January after a long battle against illness.

Despite being unwell, she fought the general election in May and was returned for her Dunfermline and West Fife seat with an 11,562 majority.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the reaction to Mr Salmond's decision



SEE ALSO:
Salmond closer to Holyrood return
04 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Salmond appeals for power shift
03 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Salmond hails independence plans
28 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Salmond sets his sights on 2007
23 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Salmond clashes with SNP rivals
18 Jul 04 |  Scotland


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