Thursday, 31 March 2011

Candidate? What candidate?

Tom Gordon

THE Liberal Democrats are looking red-faced after an "admin error" left them without a Holyrood candidate for the Clydesdale constituency in South Lanarkshire.
A mix-up over forms meant John Paton-Day failed to lodge the correct nomination papers before Tuesday’s deadline.
As a result, electors in the sprawling rural seat, which includes Lanark, Lesmahagow, Symington and Biggar, will only be able to choose between the SNP, Labour and Conservatives on May 5.
It is understood to be the first time the LibDems have failed to field candidates in all 73 Holyrood constituencies since 1999.
Mr Paton-Day, who is also standing on the South of Scotland regional list, said there had been a mix-up between the two sets of candidate forms.
Although his paperwork for the list was filed correctly, no application for Clydesdale was ever submitted.
"It’s unfortunate but these things happen," he told The Herald.
"Perfection doesn’t exist."
Mr Paton-Day, a councillor for the Scottish Borders ward of Leaderdale and Melrose since 2007, was prematurely included in the list of candidates released by the party on Tuesday evening.
However the official Notice of Poll issued by South Lanarkshire Council’s election office revealed the truth.
Contacted by The Herald on Wednesday morning, Jim Hume, the party’s South of Scotland organiser, had no idea Clydesdale was missing a LibDem.
"There should be someone. It’s news to me."
Following a quick check, he added: "There’s been an admin error and the candidate didn’t get his papers in on time. We will still be fighting a good regional campaign."
Cllr Paton-Day, a professional artist, last year considered leaving the LibDems because he was "angry and disillusioned" over the Westminster Coalition.
He insisted the failure to submit papers for Clydesdale was a mistake, not a protest.
"I can state categorically that the only reason I’m not standing is an admin error, much to my disappointment.
"I remain a committed Liberal Democrat and will work hard to make sure my party is strongly represented in the parliament."
Clydesdale was won by Labour in 2007, with the LibDems coming fourth.

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