THE SNP’s former head of communications is hoping to be the party’s candidate in Aberdeenshire West for next year’s Scottish Parliament election. 

Ex-spindoctor, Fergus Mutch contested the Westminster seat in last year’s General Election, reducing the majority of Tory MP Andrew Bowie from 8,000 to just over 800 votes.

In 2016, the Holyrood seat was won by the Tories, with millionaire Alexander Burnett defeating the SNP’s Dennis Robertson with a wafer thin majority of just 900.  

Mutch, who previously worked for former First Minister Alex Salmond and who is now the director of eu+me, a recently launched grassroots campaign to rejoin the EU, said he would make health, the economy and independence his priorities if selected by local SNP members as their candidate. 

He said: “This will be a pivotal election for the future of the North East and  for Scotland.  

“As we emerge from what has been an extremely difficult period for  everyone, getting the recovery right is imperative — the action we take  now will shape the rest of our lives.  

“We must ensure that those public services which have taken the strain  in recent months — our NHS and local schools — are well funded and  properly supported through tough years ahead. 

“Economic recovery from lockdown is key. It’s not enough to hope things  go back to the way they were. Governments at all levels must work hard,  take bold decisions and build a better future for all. 

“More and more people believe Holyrood is better placed to make  decisions that affect them than an out-of-touch Tory government at  Westminster which we didn’t vote for. Boris Johnson’s government has  failed to inspire confidence and has dragged us out of the EU against  our will and at a heavy cost.

"With independence we always get the  governments we vote for — and Scotland should have the right to choose a  better future. 

“It’s up to local members in Aberdeenshire West to pick their candidate.  What I offer is recent experience in taking the fight to the Tories,  complete determination to win on May 6th next year and a commitment to  always put the interests of this constituency first if elected to the  Scottish Parliament.”

Burnett is reportedlly worth more than £40million. As well as his MSP’s salary his parliamentary register of interests shows that he expects to earn between £160,000 and £170,00 from his business, AJA Burnett Estate, described as “a property leasing and forestry undertaking”.

He also expects to earn thousands more from a number of firms linked to his other property interests in the north-east.

In 2017 Burnett was criticised by the Holyrood Standards Committee twice in two weeks for failing to declare an interest in parliamentary questions he had asked.