Angus Robertson heads race to become SNP deputy leader

Written by Tom Smithard on 5 August 2016 in Diary

Shortlist also contains comedy-club-owner-turned-MP as the fifth leadership contest of the summer gets underway.

The SNP have unveiled the four contenders vying to become Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy – the final shortlist released in a summer of frenzied leadership activity.

Four men will compete for the SNP deputy leadership, including the party’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson (pictured above) and fellow MP Tommy Sheppard.

Despite only getting elected last year Sheppard has become one of the most recognisable SNP faces in SW1, his role as shadow cabinet minister giving him license to roam across the broadcast studios.

He also has the most interesting background – a former Labour deputy leader of Hackney Council in London who returned to Edinburgh, grew disheartened with the party’s move to the centre-ground and quit to set up the Stand comedy club, one of the city’s top festival locations, only joining the SNP in 2014.

But it is Robertson who will start the race as firm favourite, the 46-year-old former BBC journalist having served as leader in Westminster since 2007.

He has become increasingly prominent since 2015 when the SNP became the third party in the Commons, giving Robertson two questions each PMQs. He used the opportunity to regularly skewer David Cameron, earning favourable comparisons with Jeremy Corbyn in the process.

The other two candidates are MEP Alyn Smith and Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny, with the winner being declared at the party’s conference in October.

This is fifth leadership contest taking place in a busy summer for Westminster watchers.

The Conservatives got theirs out of the way quickly, Theresa May being handed a coronation in July after two rivals were defeated in ballots of MPs and the other two pulled out.

Labour’s second leadership race in a year is currently fascinating and wearying hacks in equal measure, with the race between Corbyn and Owen Smith not due to finish until September 24.

Ukip has provided the most entertainment this week after the frontrunner in its leadership race, Steven Woolfe, was barred from standing due to a late application. Five candidates are now competing with the result declared on September 15.

Despite garnering little publicity so far, the Green Party are also in the midst of a leadership race, with the winner declared on September 2. Former talisman Caroline Lucas is standing again in a job-share arrangement with Jonathan Bartley, against five other candidates – all standing individually.

Only the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru are not currently embroiled in a leadership race – although, perhaps not wishing to be left out, the Lib Dems are electing a new leader of their group in the House of Lords in September.

Picture by: Danny Lawson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

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