By Stephen Naysmith

With the latest twist in the SNP candidacy row, voters in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath could be forgiven a degree of confusion.

Denise Lindsay’s resignation from the party over alleged anti-semitic Tweets was all the more embarrassing because she was part of a conduct committee looking into the allegations which saw onetime SNP candidate Neale Hanvey disowned for similar reasons last month.

Mr Hanvey is continuing a crowdfunded campaign for the seat, and will appear on the ballot next to the SNP logo. But he was forced to apologise for “dreadful errors of judgement”.

In the wake of this, the Scottish Greens’ candidate, Scott Rutherford sought the backing of the Yes Kirkcaldy Hub for his campaign. But, Yes Kirkcaldy has belatedly backed Mr Hanvey – as the pro-indy candidate with the best chance of winning.

It isn’t clear how many SNP-leaning voters, unaware of that decision, could still give their X to Mr Rutherford, perhaps boosting the hopes of incumbent Labour MP Lesley Laird, or how the anti-semitism controversy will play out with voters.

Mr Rutherford says he is disappointed local Yes campaigners have not given him their backing. “The SNP suspended Neale Hanvey because of his views,” he said: “As an inclusive, cross-party movement, independence supporters should be uniting behind the only remaining pro-indy party on the ballot.”

But he says local environmental issues are playing well for the Scottish Greens, such protecting the renewables supply chain at BiFab and tackling emissions and flaring at Mossmorran. “The sense I get knocking doors is that people want an MP who listens to them, stands up for their interests and leads on issues instead of paying them lip service, “ he adds.

Ms Laird, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, knows she has fight on her hands to retain a seat which has been Labour’s since 2005, apart from the brief tenure of the SNP’s Roger Mullin, victorious in 2015 but defeated two years later. With a Labour majority of just 259, it was a key SNP target until Mr Hanvey was cut loose.

Ms Laird claims she isn’t paying attention to the ‘spat’. “I’m focused on winning the seat and I wont’ be distracted,” she says.

She hopes to capitalise on recognition of her work as an active constituency MP. “I’m very grateful for the personal support I have been getting”, and argues the constitutional question is not uppermost in voters mind. “People are concerned about the NHS, education the lack of housing and opportunity and the state of the streets. And if your priority is to get Boris Johnson out, then we are the only party, when you boil it down.”

Conservative candidate Kathleen Leslie, a local councillor and ex-teacher perhaps best known for describing Nicola Sturgeon as a ‘drooling hag’, needs a big swing to overturn the 6,254 vote gap between the Tories and Labour in 2017, and seems unlikely to capitalise on the Hanvey scenario. Gillian Cole-Hamilton, a teacher who is married to Lib Dem Health spokesman Alex is standing, but the party look like also-rans here. Meanwhile the Brexit Party is fielding a former soldier and aide to former UKIP MEP David Coburn, Colin Mitchelson. He is standing under the name Mitch William using rules which allow candidates to use ‘commonly used names’ rather than those appearing on their birth certificate.