THE Edinburgh Central constituency is not just the heart of the Scottish capital, it is key to the pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament. The part-time commitment of Tory MSP Ruth Davidson shows there is a real need for a full-time replacement. All recent election results in Edinburgh Central have shown it will take a committed candidate to win, which is why I am running for the SNP nomination.

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In recent weeks, it has become clear that Ruth Davidson is heading towards the House of Lords, which will be closer to the PR job in London she covets. Despite committing herself to her constituents in Edinburgh Central, she believes she can be in Westminster and Holyrood at the same time. That is not possible.

Debates, committee meetings and votes take place on the same days. She will only be able to attend one parliament at a time, while letting down her responsibilities in the other.

This issue is going to follow her until she steps down at the next Scottish Parliament elections or causes a by-election, which would be the best outcome for everyone concerned.

With majority independence support in three polls, pro-independence parliamentarians and candidates need to be leading their local campaigns to galvanise support in preparation for the independence referendum and next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

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Given that Edinburgh Central doesn’t have a pro-independence MSP at the moment, selecting a full-time candidate who can focus campaigning efforts is a high priority.

Recent elections have been extremely close between the SNP and Conservatives, with Marco Biagi winning for the SNP in 2011 by 237 votes and Alison Dickie losing to the Tories in 2016 by 610 votes.

Such narrow margins, including 2011 when the SNP won a majority nationally, make the point that nothing can be taken for granted.

Campaigning needs to start now and run continuously until polling day to ensure victory. While the seat is a two-horse race between the SNP and the Tories, 40% of the electorate have still voted Labour, Green or Liberal Democrat.

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There is a huge job to do to explain why they should vote to defeat the Tories. This will take a dedicated campaign effort over the next year, on week days and weekends, and led from the front by a visible full-time candidate. Anything less than that is not good enough and will not guarantee success.

I decided to throw my hand in the ring for the SNP nomination after local members suggested I should, given my experience, my profile and the fact that I am currently not a parliamentarian or councillor with an existing and important job to do elsewhere. They want a candidate who will put all of their efforts into Edinburgh Central. I am able to give that commitment.

It also helps that I am from Edinburgh Central, where I went to school and became active in the local SNP in the 1980s and that I am well known in the area.

Edinburgh Central is a diverse constituency with wide social and economic differences, including areas of deprivation and lower incomes not far from some of the wealthiest communities in the country.

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It is a constituency at the heart of big debates about the future of Edinburgh, from affordable housing to public transport and the environment, as well as issues such as over-tourism.

Edinburgh is also our national capital, and we need to develop an independence vision for the city. Independence will bring a huge boost to Edinburgh Central in particular, which is home to our national institutions.

We need to make people aware of the benefits independence can bring to the city.

Independence will not be secured unless we continue to win at the ballot box and the SNP candidate for Edinburgh Central will have a huge responsibility to lead the local campaign together with members and volunteers to deliver victory in a highly marginal seat.

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By the time the internal selection process is completed, there will be less than 12 months until the Scottish Parliament election.

There will be no time for distractions, there will be no time to commit to elsewhere. What Edinburgh Central needs is a dedicated MSP who is willing to be full-time.

I have given my promise to local SNP members that I can be that committed candidate and I am hugely grateful for the pledges of support I have received so far. When we know who all the potential candidates are, we will no doubt have an excellent debate, but the key measure for members will be simple: can you give a commitment to be a full-time candidate: Yes or No? My answer is already emphatically: YES.