Electorate shows true colours as city divides

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale loses Edinburgh Eastern to SNP Ash Denham. Picture: contributed

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale loses Edinburgh Eastern to SNP Ash Denham. Picture: contributed

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EDINBURGH has established itself as Scotland’s most politically diverse city as the Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats each took a seat from the SNP and the Greens increased their strength on the Lothian list.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson’s victory in Edinburgh Central was the biggest surprise of the night. The Conservatives had finished fourth in the seat in 2011, but Ms Davidson’s high profile and her promise of providing a “strong opposition” to the SNP helped her triumph.

And the Tories also took three of the seven list seats in Lothian, which means political adviser Miles Briggs, lawyer Gordon Lindhurst and city councillor Jeremy Balfour will all become MSPs.

Mr Briggs said it was an “outstanding victory” for the Conservatives. He said: “The Scottish Conservatives have been waiting for this resurgence for a long time. I believe this is only the start of something big.”

Labour candidate Daniel Johnson’s victory in Edinburgh Southern was a rare point of light for the party in a gloomy set of results across Scotland.

He took the seat with a 1123 majority, ousting the SNP’s Jim Eadie who won it from the Lib Dems in 2011.

The win mirrors Labour’s success in Edinburgh South in last year’s Westminster general election, when Ian Murray ended up as the party’s sole surviving MP in Scotland.

Mr Johnson said: “We built on what we did last year. Ian Murray and I campaigned incredibly closely in the general election and that carried on. That integrated approach has really paid dividends.”

He said his distinctive campaign – which included issuing a personal manifesto alongside the party’s policy document – had helped him. But he also acknowledged there had been anti-SNP tactical voting.

“The pattern across the country is clear – a lot of people wanted to vote for the best bet against the SNP. In Edinburgh Southern, they decided we were the best bet.” 
The Liberal Democrats’ dramatic win in their former stronghold of Edinburgh Western saw Alex Cole-Hamilton notch up a 2960 majority over the SNP’s Toni Giugliano.

It was a welcome boost for the Lib Dems after they failed to hold on to Edinburgh West in last year’s Westminster election. The Nationalists were said to have suffered from the row over MP Michelle Thomson’s controversial property deals and the deselection of the previous MSP, Colin Keir.

UK Lib Dem leader Tim Farron came to Corstorphine yesterday to help celebrate the victory.

The Greens were also celebrating after they secured two MSPs from the Lothian list, with land reform campaigner Andy Wightman joining Alison Johnstone.

Mr Wightman hailed the result as “amazing”.

He said: “I am determined to bring bold ideas into parliament and will pursue issues such as local democracy and land reform with vigour.”

The SNP’s Ben Macpherson won Edinburgh Northern and Leith from Labour with a 6746 majority. It was the only seat in the city Labour retained in 2011 but candidate Lesley Hinds was unable to keep it following the retirement of long-serving MSP Malcolm Chisholm.

Labour’s strength on the list was reduced from three to two. Leader Kezia Dugdale and leading left-winger Neil Findlay are both back, but Sarah Boyack, who was minister for planning, environment and transport in Donald Dewar’s first Cabinet, lost her seat at Holyrood.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com