John Lamont will stand for the Conservatives in the Borders at the next general election after winning an American-style open primary.
The former lawyer will be bidding to take the Westminster seat from sitting MP Michael Moore for the third time in the general election next year.
The Roxburgh, Ettrick and Berwickshire MSP beat Borders councillor Michelle Ballantyne in a head-to-head vote designed to choose the party’s candidate for the Westminster election in 2015. The event in Kelso was attended by 300 people.
The Conservatives in the Borders were the first in Scotland to use a public process to select their candidate. The party says the process is being used in an effort to make the system of choosing candidates more transparent, while allowing the broader electorate to be more involved.
Lamont explained: “The aim is simple. We believe it’s time to open up the process for electing Conservative candidates ahead of next year’s general election.
“So rather than just allowing party members to elect the Conservative candidate, we have decided to stage primary contests where anybody who lives in the constituency and who wants to come along can take part.
“They don’t have to be Conservative members. They don’t even have to be Conservative supporters. We just want to make sure that the person who represents the Conservative party in some of our key seats is the person who local people thought was the most deserving.”
He added: “The attendance on Sunday evening far exceeded my expectations, beating similar primary election nights held down south. People even made the journey to Kelso from places like Eyemouth and Clovenfords.”
Because he currently sits in the Holyrood parliament, Lamont would have to relinquish his seat in Edinburgh if he is elected as Borders MP in Westminster.
Lamont added: “I believe that, having won the trust and confidence of the 300 plus people in Tait Hall in Kelso, I can now win the trust and confidence of the 74,000 people who will be voting next May.”