Editor to fight Holyrood seat
Walker steps out of papers to seek election for SNP
Richard Walker: I have a lot of ideas
Newspaper editor Richard Walker has announced he is seeking election to the Scottish parliament for the SNP in a move that has divided opinion among his colleagues.
Mr Walker, editor of the Sunday National and founder of The National newspaper, will be bidding to win the party nomination in Ayr. The seat has been held since 2000 by the Tory MSP John Scott who re-took it in 2016 with a majority of just 750 votes ahead of the second placed SNP.
In a post on Twitter, Mr Walker, also a former editor of the defunct Sunday Herald, said: “Friends, neighbours, fellow @theSNP members, I’m delighted to announce that I am on the selection ballot for Ayr Constituency. I ignored the project fear narrative by bringing Sunday Herald out for #YES. I’ll be as courageous for the people of Ayr as we move towards #IndyRef2.”
He told The National: “I have been campaigning for independence since before the 2014 referendum bringing the Sunday Herald for Yes and founding The National and The Sunday National.
“I believe I have a lot of ideas, experience and skills which I would like to put at the disposal of the SNP and the wider Yes movement.”
Mr Walker was born in Troon, which is in the constituency, and has worked in local and national newspapers for 40 years, including a spell at The Scotsman.
The National announced Richard Walker’s plans
He said with the prospect of a second referendum in the next Holyrood term he wanted to play an active role in a new campaign from “a different angle”.
He added: “I think we will see Scotland become independent following a second referendum. What better prospect than to be part of a parliament which helps to shape the new Scotland once independence is won?
“I want to see a Scotland that can take the best decisions for the people who live here and a Scotland that isn’t beholden to a Conservative majority at Westminster that it has not voted for.”
His announcement was made after the Sunday National ran a spread on his partner Suzanne McLaughlin, who is standing for selection as an SNP candidate in Glasgow Kelvin.
The feature prompted Alex Massie, Scotland editor of The Spectator and Sunday Times columnist, to post on Twitter: “I wonder if everyone hoping to be an SNP candidate next year will get a spread in the National or if that privilege is reserved for the editor’s partner?”
Mr Walker said: “Lots of candidates have been covered in The National and Sunday National.”
He has stepped aside from his duties at the Sunday National which will be edited by Callum Baird, editor of The National and Glasgow Times.
His decision to stand for election drew reaction from a number of fellow journalists. Columnist Lesley Riddoch said: “I couldn’t think of (a) better SNP MSP for Ayr.”
However, long-time friend and colleague Kevin McKenna admitted to “mixed feelings” about Mr Walker’s decision. In a column, he said: “If he succeeds, he will be a huge asset to the SNP, not that they’ll necessarily put that to good use.
“Preferment in the current party owes more to your personal fealty to the Sturgeon/Murrell project than to any discernible talent or authentic commitment to an independent Scotland.”