Stewart targets disaffected Lib Dems

Rab Stewart
Rab Stewart

Rab Stewart, Labour’s prospective Holyrood candidate for the new Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire seat, believes voters of all parties have become disillusioned with the coalition

Labour stands its “best chance for generations” of electoral success in the Borders at the Holyrood polls, according to its prospective candidate.

Former senior union official Rab Stewart was confirmed this week as the party’s prospective candidate for the redrawn Scottish Parliamentary seat of Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire on May 5.

Mr Stewart, 59, who has lived in Selkirk for nearly 40 years, won grass roots support at a hustings meeting before Christmas in the Salmon Inn, Galashiels.

Penicuik-born Mr Stewart joined the Labour party in 1979: the same year that he began work as an industrial officer with the former Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) in Galashiels. In 1992 he moved to the union’s Edinburgh office, serving as regional organiser for south-east Scotland and sitting on the Agricultural Wages Board.

During his career, he represented workers in the private and public sectors, negotiating on a national level in textiles.

He was the election agent for the late Neil Glen who stood for Labour in Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale in the 1987 General Election.

Mr Stewart, who is married with four children, took early retirement in March 2010, from Unite, the union formed by the amalgamation of the TGWU and Amicus.

He admits he faces an uphill task, given Labour’s showing in Roxburgh and Berwickshire in 2007 when Mary Lockhart polled only 8.2 per cent of the vote, trailing in fourth behind Tory John Lamont, the Lib Dem Euan Robson and the SNP’s Aileen Orr.

Mr Lamont and Mr Robson will do battle again in the new constituency, which includes the Scottish Borders Council ward of Selkirkshire, while Paul Wheelhouse will go for the SNP.