Councillor Michelle Ballantyne will take on the town’s MSP, John Lamont, next weekend in a bid to become the area’s Tory candidate for the 2015 Westminster election.
The pair are the last two standing in the Scottish Conservatives’ new Tories’ Got Talent selection process which saw hopefuls pitch their policies to an open audience, who then voted them on or off.
The two finalists will now meet head-to-head in a public vote in Kelso’s Tait Hall on Sunday, March 16, at 5pm, when both will be interviewed by veteran Scots journalist Alan Cochrane before the audience decides who goes through to fight the general election in May 2015.
Councillor Ballantyne is up for the challenge.
“He’s the seasoned politician, I’m the underdog,” she told The Wee Paper.
But she came out fighting: “Many people are fed up with politicians because they think they are self-serving and lacking in experience of anything but politics. The Borders has not benefitted from our representation over the last 50 years – and it is time for a change.
“John is a seasoned, ambitious politician who has served his constituency well as an MSP and I am sure will continue to do so. He has run for the Westminster seat twice already without success and whilst not denying his commitment, I welcome the party’s open approach to selecting the candidate this time around.”
Mr Lamont told us he was delighted to reach the final stage.
“I understand the need to provide a strong voice for unique rural communities like those in the Borders,” he said. “I have had a strong record of campaigning on local issues that affect our lives every day and I want to continue this work on behalf of the Borders as the Member of Parliament at Westminster.
“I hope that many local people will turn out to support me.”
Whichever Tory candidate wins, they will be standing against their party’s coalition partner, incumbent Lib Dem MP Michael Moore, who confirmed: “I will be standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk in the 2015 UK general election.”
And whoever wins the seat next year may be the last MP to serve the Royal Burgh, if Scotland votes “Yes” in the September referendum on independence.
Doors open to the Kelso hustings at 4pm.
Any registered voter in the constituency can take part in the vote – but they must register their attendance 48 hours before by emailing their name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 01835 823267.