Dennis Canavan backs SNP candidate John McNally in Falkirk election battle

John McNally on the campaign trail in 2010 with then First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: John Devlin
John McNally on the campaign trail in 2010 with then First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: John Devlin

A former long-serving Labour MP has backed SNP candidate John McNally to win the Falkirk constituency at May’s General Election.

Dennis Canavan said the councillor from Denny was a “man of the people” and could be trusted to serve the district’s interests well at Westminster.

09-06-2014. Picture Michael Gillen.  FALKIRK. Trinity Church. The Falkirk Herald Referendum Hustings Better Together panelists Michael Connarty MP and Karen Whitefield, Labour Westminster candidate. Yes Scotland panelists Claire Adamson MSP and Patrick Harvie MSP. Chairman Ian Scott (centre).

09-06-2014. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Trinity Church. The Falkirk Herald Referendum Hustings Better Together panelists Michael Connarty MP and Karen Whitefield, Labour Westminster candidate. Yes Scotland panelists Claire Adamson MSP and Patrick Harvie MSP. Chairman Ian Scott (centre).

McNally was elected SNP candidate for Falkirk - one of the party’s key target seats - by local members last week.

The 63-year-old will face Labour’s Karen Whitefield, among others, in May 7’s ballot. He previously stood in the 2010 election, when he was defeated by Eric Joyce.

Canavan, an MP for Falkirk from 1974-2000 and MSP from 1999-2007, also revealed he was approached by activists to stand again for election himself, but had refused.

“Now that John McNally has been re-selected as SNP candidate for Falkirk, I shall be giving him my support again,” he said.

“I have known John McNally for many years. He is a man of the people and a very good local councillor. I know that he will work hard for the people in the Falkirk constituency. At the last General Election, John achieved the biggest swing from Labour to SNP and I fully expect him to do even better this year.

“Many traditional Labour voters in places like Falkirk were disgusted when they saw the Labour in bed with the Tories during the referendum campaign. They are also scunnered with all the shenanigans over the selection of the Labour candidate. The people of Falkirk deserve better and I have a feeling that this time John McNally will come out on top.”

Mr McNally said he was “surprised but delighted” to be offered support from the former chairman of the Yes campaign for independence.

“Dennis is still regarded with great affection within the constituency and his endorsement means a great deal to me personally but much more to the campaign,” he said.

Denny councillor Brian McCabe also endorsed Mr McNally this week. The independent had announced last month that he intended to stand in Falkirk.

He said: “I had previously written to Johnny to advise him that, on his selection, I would immediately step down to add support to his campaign. I am now honouring that promise.”

Labour already on the Falkirk campaign trail

Labour candidate Karen Whitefield was on the Falkirk campaign trail this week as she aims to win a seat with a long tradition as one of the party’s heartlands.

“Falkirk residents will soon have to choose who runs the United Kingdom,” she told The Falkirk Herald.

“In the many conversations I’ve had with Falkirk folk, I’ve listened to their concerns for the future and discussed the positive difference a Labour Government will make. The last few years have been difficult for many and it is time to do things differently.

“Wages have been suppressed; to make work pay we need a living wage. Too many new jobs are insecure, so we need a ban zero hour contracts. Young people need work and a tax on banker’s bonuses could guarantee them a job. People shouldn’t have to choose between eating and heating, so we need to force the energy companies to pass on any drop in wholesale energy prices. The NHS is struggling and 1,000 additional nurses for Scotland, paid for by a UK-wide Mansion Tax, will make a real difference.

“These changes will make life fairer for Falkirk folk and only a Labour Government will deliver them. On 7 May the choice for voters is between Labour, committed to fairness, or more Tory austerity.”