Prospect Looms of Journalists Battling for Parliamentary Seat

Two Scots freelance journalists, who once worked together in the joint newsroom of the Press and Journal and Evening Express in Aberdeen, could be doing battle at the ballot box in next year's election to the Scottish Parliament.

Aberdeen-based Hamish Mackay and Glasgow-based Christine Jardine could be hitting the election trail together for the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seat at Holyrood.

Mackay announced at the weekend he is entering the fray as an independent candidate in a bid to succeed the current MSP – Liberal Democrat, Jamie Stone, who is standing down to pursue business interests.

Meantime, it emerged the Scottish Liberal Democrats have drawn up a shortleet of two – Jardine and Highland Regional councillor, Robbie Rowantree, who lives in Sutherland.

Rowantree is chair of the local constituency party. However, he has handed over the reins of running local affairs to his deputy while a choice is made between him and Jardine. An announcement is expected within the next two weeks.

The election is scheduled for May 5 next year but there is speculation that it could be moved to avoid a clash with a UK-wide referendum on voting reform for Westminster. Holyrood’s Presiding Officer has the power to bring forward or put back the election by a month – thus keeping the two votes separate.

Sixty-three year-old Mackay, who was born in Caithness, has lived in Aberdeen for the past 42 years. He has been a journalist for the past 46 years – beginning his career on the John o’ Groats Journal weekly newspaper, in Wick, after graduating from the UK's first journalism college – the Regent Street Polytechnic, in London.

He subsequently rose through the editorial ranks of the Press and Journal and, during a 25-year stint with the morning newspaper, graduated to the position of news editor. During the past 15 years, he has run his own business in Aberdeen – Mackay Media Consultancy. He is a former Scottish correspondent for the Press Gazette.

He unsuccessfully stood as a list candidate for the Highlands and Islands for new party, Scottish Voice, at the Scottish Parliamentary elections four years ago. He is a member of a number of community and voluntary bodies in Aberdeen and is a past chair of Aberdeen Community Councils Forum. He has stood three times for election to Aberdeen City Council and has also twice contested the post of Rector of Aberdeen University.

Christine Jardine is a former editor of the Press Association news agency in Scotland. She is married to Aberdonian, Calum Macdonald, who is news editor of The Herald, and she freelances for a number of publications including BBC Radio Scotland.

Mackay told allmediascotland: “I would be absolutely delighted if Christine is chosen to stand for the seat. Our friendship goes back a long way and we could have some great fun at the hustings – albeit elections are a very serious business.”

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