Lib Dems select friend of Charles Kennedy to fight late MP’s seat

A friend of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy is bidding to win his old Westminster seat back for the party.

Craig Harrow has been selected by the Scottish Liberal Democrats as their candidate for the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency.

Fighting the seat would be a “fitting tribute to Charles”, Mr Harrow said.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie hailed Mr Harrow as a “high-calibre candidate” who has a “great chance of winning back Charles Kennedy’s old seat”.

He also said such a result would send a signal to the Scottish Government that people are “firmly opposed to another divisive independence referendum”.

Mr Harrow, a former Scottish Liberal Democrat Party convener, said he is “determined to be a champion in Parliament for Ross, Skye and Lochaber”.

He added: “With the party’s deep roots in the Highlands and islands, we understand the special challenges that comes with living here. I will make sure those challenges are addressed by government.”

Mr Kennedy had represented the area at Westminster from 1983 to 2015, losing the seat to the SNP’s Ian Blackford as Nicola Sturgeon’s party swept the board in that general election.

But supporters of Mr Kennedy were unhappy about tactics used by Mr Blackford, who went on to become the SNP’s Westminster leader.

Mr Harrow said: “The unpleasantness around Charles Kennedy’s last general election campaign has been widely reported and commented upon. It caused much upset and anxiety with many of Charles’s friends and supporters.

“I am determined to win the parliamentary seat back from the SNP in a way that Charles would be proud of. We need an uplifting, positive campaign for the Highlands and islands.

“We need someone at Westminster who will put people first. On issues like health services, transport, education, social care, energy costs and jobs, I am determined to be a strong voice that puts those issues at the forefront rather than another divisive campaign for independence.

“This campaign will be a fitting tribute to Charles.”

Mr Rennie said: “Craig Harrow has got a great chance of winning back Charles Kennedy’s old seat. He is a high calibre candidate who has worked in and campaigned for the Highlands and islands over many years.

“He will be a tenacious MP with the energy and commitment that is required to represent this area. He understands the priorities and is firmly opposed to another divisive independence referendum.

“A defeat for the SNP’s Westminster leader would send a clear signal that Scotland does not want another independence referendum, and Craig is the best person to deliver that.”

Mr Kennedy died in June 2015.