TWO former MSPs, an ex-MP, an MEP and a councillor have been named as the SNP’s candidates for next month’s European election.

Alyn Smith will be hoping to keep his spot at the top of the list, but that decision rests firmly in the hands of delegates to the party’s conference.

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They’ve been asked to rank Smith, Aileen McLeod, Margaret Ferrier, Christian Allard, Heather Anderson, and Alex Kerr in order of preference.

At the 2014 elections, the SNP’s process to select candidates lasted around 18 months. This year, the party has until Wednesday morning.

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For Smith, it’s his fourth time seeking the nomination. The 46-year-old has been an MEP since 2004.

He told those voting he “would be honoured” to be their number one. “I’ll lead these euros from the front with your backing,” he tweeted.

Smith has been a prominent supporter of McLeod, the former Scottish Government minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

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The 48-year-old worked for Smith as Head of Policy, before winning a regional list seat in Holyrood in 2011 that she held on to until 2016.

McLeod said she was “up for the task” of being an SNP MEP, telling delegates, “I know the European Parliament inside out. And as a former MSP and Scottish Government Minister I know how to promote Scotland’s interests in Brussels.”

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Ferrier, the 59-year-old former MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West said she was “delighted and privileged to be one of the six SNP EU election candidates”.

Frenchman Allard was an MSP for the North East of Scotland between 2013 and 2016. Despite being top of the list at the 2016 elections, the SNP’s strong showing in the constituency vote saw him lose out.

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The 55-year-old veteran of the fishing industry won a seat on Aberdeen City Council in 2017. “I will always put the people of Scotland first,” he tweeted.

Anderson is the councillor for Tweeddale West in the borders. The 60-year-old organic farmer, and Women for Independence National Council member, said she was “delighted and honoured to be shortlisted”.

“What an opportunity to fight for Scotland’s interests in Europe,” she said.

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At 24, physics student Kerr is the youngest of the candidates. He has received high-profile backing for his candidacy, with Justice Minister Humza Yousaf saying Kerr would be a “champion for young people” who would “work tirelessly” as an MEP to keep Scotland “part of the European family of nations.”

Results of the ballot should be known not long after polls close.

It’s not known how many people applied for the six places, but it’s understood a number of potential candidates failed vetting.

One SNP insider said that this was a “good thing”.

“I think we really need to look at the calibre of our candidates,” they added. “We need to make the vetting system a lot tougher, because there are parliamentarians who frankly shouldn’t be there.”

Often, they added, people were rewarded for turning up and putting leaflets through doors.

“We need to get that balance right. We need that commitment, of course. We also need people with something to contribute, some experience outwith politics, and people who can think independently and who challenge in a constructive way. “

The SNP expects to take two of the six Scottish seats, and are hopeful of winning a third.

Earlier this week, their longest-serving MEP, Ian Hudghton, announced his retirement from frontline politics.