Election 2024: new Kirkcaldy candidate Melanie Ward comes full circle with Labour

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Labour has confirmed the suspension of its General Election candidate, Wilma Brown, and unveiled her replacement for the forthcoming Westminster poll.

Melanie Ward will now fight the Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy seat after a quick selection process which saw no fewer than seven hopefuls throw their hats into the ring.

The change was confirmed after the party suspended Mr Brown last month after a storm erupted over a social media account appearing to belong to her seemed to endorse posts linking First Minister Humza Yousaf to Hamas, including one calling him "Hamas Youseless.”

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The profile also re-posted a Twitter attack on Mr Yousaf and his wife Nadia, who is Palestinian, which branded them "religious zealots" who "shouldn't be anywhere near our government.”

Melanie Ward at a 2015 hustings in Glenrothes. Her appointment as Labour candidate for Kirkcaldy brings her full circleMelanie Ward at a 2015 hustings in Glenrothes. Her appointment as Labour candidate for Kirkcaldy brings her full circle
Melanie Ward at a 2015 hustings in Glenrothes. Her appointment as Labour candidate for Kirkcaldy brings her full circle

Hopes she may be able to salvage her campaign and candidacy were formally ended when the party unveiled her successor - and the announcement brought Ms Ward full circle in Fife politics.

In 2015 she was put up to defend Lindsay Roy’s Glenrothes Westminster seat only to see the seat claimed in an SNP tsunami which swept across Scottish constituencies. She also stood to be the Labour candidate in the south London seat of Beckenham and Penge last November.

Since standing in Glenrothes, Ms Ward has worked with Christian Aid and ActionAid UK, and is currently chief executive with Medical Aid for Palestinians, a UK charity that offers medical services in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon, and advocates for Palestinians' rights to health and dignity. She was recently chosen as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential health workers worldwide.

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A spokesperson for Scottish Labour said: “Melanie Ward has an impressive and proven track record in fighting injustice and delivering change in politics and the third sector. At the coming General Election, Scottish Labour is standing to deliver the change that Scotland needs.”

The Lang Toun is also high on their list of targets at the next election - a seat it lost control of when Neale Hanvey triumphed against all odds as an independent in 2019.

Sources say the seven who bid to win the seat were a mix of local and external candidates who only had a short window of opportunity to prepare their cases - but they dismissed SNP suggestions Ms Ward had been “parachuted” in.

Born in Helensburgh, but resident in London, they say her location is less important than what she can deliver for the town and constituency as part of any future Labour government. The party needs a swing of just under 1.5% to regain the Kirkcaldy seat, but not all parties have yet declared who they will stand - and a date has yet to be set by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

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Mr Hanvey will stand for Alba, while Councillor Lesley Backhouse is the choice of the SNP. The Lib Dems, who finished a distant fourth in 2019, albeit with an increased share of the vote, and the Tories and Green Party have yet to unveil their candidates.

> Alba Party will unveil its line-up of election candidates for Scotland at a special event at Lochgelly Centre this weekend. It initially set its sights on contesting 12 seats, but, founder Alex Salmond hinted during his recent visit to Kirkcaldy to launch Mr Hanvey’s campaign, that the number could be as high as 20.

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