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Experienced MSP with time on side

KAREN Whitefield has spent 12 of her 43 years as a parliamentarian representing, as she was forever saying at Holyrood, "Airdrie, Shotts and the surrounding villages."

KAREN Whitefield has spent 12 of her 43 years as a parliamentarian representing, as she was forever saying at Holyrood, "Airdrie, Shotts and the surrounding villages."

A native of Bellshill, she had been working as an MP's personal assistant when she was elected to the Scottish Parliament at the age of 29 and was a backbencher for the next eight years.

In the third term, when the SNP formed a minority government, Labour chose her as education committee convener, and she used her casting vote, with the Conservatives and her Labour colleagues, to defeat the SNP's flagship policy of scrapping the graduate endowment.

The policy was eventually voted through with LibDem support by the full chamber, but Ms Whitefield can expect to be reminded of this episode in her parliamentary history when it comes to the next General Election campaign.

Ms Whitefield may not have set the heather on fire at Holyrood but she carries those years of parliamentary experience and also on her side is the fact that she has fully 18 months to work the constituency.

On one other note, there will have been great disappointment at Disability Politics, the group which campaigns for the election of more disabled candidates, at Pam Duncan losing out.

The group points out that Westminster has only a tiny number of MPs with disabilities when it would require 65 to be representative of the nation as a whole. Ms Duncan, who uses a wheelchair and works for a charity, was seen as an excellent candidate.

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Local government

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