THE UK Independence Party today won a European Parliament seat in Scotland for the first time, dashing SNP hopes of getting a third MEP elected.
The result came as a shock to all the main parties, but Ukip claimed it showed the issues which concerned people in Scotland were the same as elsewhere in the UK.
The SNP topped the poll with 28.9 per cent of the vote and got its two sitting MEPs re-elected. Labour increased its vote by about five points to 25.9 per cent, retaining its two seats. The Conservatives on 17.2 per cent held their one seat. But the Lib Dems, as expected, lost their seat, ending up in sixth place with 7.1 per cent of the vote, behind Ukip on 10.4 per cent and the Greens on 8.1 per cent.
It had been widely forecast that the SNP would pick up the seat which the Lib Dems lost, but as figures from counts across the country were fed into the results nerve centre at Edinburgh’s City Chambers last night, it quickly became clear Ukip had done much better than expected.
In Edinburgh, however, Labour came out ahead of the SNP by just 37 votes, both parties taking 23.1 per cent of the vote. The Tories were on 19.4 per cent, the Greens 16.1 per cent and the Lib Dems 8.9 with Ukip taking 7.8 per cent.
Turn-out in the Capital was 41.6 per cent – up from 35.5 per cent last time. Across Scotland it was 33.5 per cent.
The official Scotland-wide result was being announced today once figures came in from the Western Isles, where counting does not take place on a Sunday, but the outcome was not in doubt.
Ukip victor David Coburn said: “This result says people in Scotland are as worried about the same things as everyone else in the rest of the United Kingdom.
“We all have the same problems that need to be resolved. Mr Salmond seems to think that Scotland is so different from everywhere else - well, it’s not.”
He dismissed Scottish independence as a “ridiculous” idea. He said: “I’d like to see both Scotland and England leaving the EU together and running our own affairs.”
The SNP had warned the fight for the last seat in Scotland would be a fight between themselves and Ukip.
But Lothians-based Labour MEP David Martin said: “The SNP made a massive tactical mistake in positing themselves against Ukip and gave Ukip a bounce by suggesting they could win a seat – which they have now done. Ukip looks like an easy protest vote but they are irrelevant as far as the European Parliament is concerned.”
SNP MEP Ian Hudghton said while the governing parties south of the border had taken a kicking, the SNP had topped the poll in Scotland.
He said: “Seven years into SNP government, we are still winning elections.”
And he insisted the political picture was still very different north and south of the Border. “In Scotland we have one-tenth of people voting Ukip, in England it’s more like one-third.”