Leith Walk byelection saw humiliation for Tories – Adam McVey

In contrast to our positivity, Tories ran a “stop the SNP” negative campaign, writes Adam McVey.

Monday, 15th April 2019, 6:00 am
Leith Walk's new councillor Rob Munn (Picture: Ian Rutherford)

A by-election provides a great opportunity to speak to so many people face to face on the doorsteps and hear directly what their concerns and aspirations are. The Leith walk by-election was no exception.

Along with many SNP activists we spoke to thousands of Leithers about what mattered to them. It was hugely encouraging to hear the level of support for our policies of: expanded early years nursery provision, building expanded on-road and off-road cycleways, investing record levels fixing the city’s roads, building the tram extension, refurbishing our schools, regulating short-term let’s, building 20,000 affordable homes, supporting EU nationals, improving waste collections, upgrading play parks, improving availability of social care services and many other policies that residents were keen to voice support for.

I’m delighted that after engaging with so many people Rob Munn has been elected to represent the people of Leith Walk Ward. I know Rob well and many residents I spoke to still remembered Rob from his time as a councillor in the 1990s such was the impact he made for his community. I know he will do a fantastic job for Leith and Edinburgh, helping take forward the policies that people in our city want to see.

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SNP candidate Rob Munn victorious in Leith Walk by-election

I’m personally delighted to have someone in the SNP Group and in the coalition with a wealth of experience and talent who can not only help us drive change in the Capital, but who can ensure benefits of our policies are felt throughout our communities. That experience, talent and attitude will also help communities across Leith Walk Ward as people contact Rob for help and bring up issues to be resolved. As our new councillor gets to work, I hope voters will quickly be assured they have chosen the right candidate.

Our campaign was a positive one, getting the message out of the work we’re doing in City Chambers, in Leith and as a party at national level. We had a lot to say about the work we’re doing in building a more sustainable future for Edinburgh and sharing our city’s success across our communities. We worked hard to keep the trust of the people of Leith and all of us are grateful and heartened that so many Leithers gave us their vote.

It is also worth briefly mentioning the Conservative campaign. In contrast to the SNP’s positivity, they ran a “stop the SNP” negative campaign – attacking tram extension plans and the prospect of exploring a workplace parking levy.

They also made their campaign about Ruth Davidson’s leadership, putting her name and face on their election materials and A boards at the polling stations. Despite what was clearly a well-organised and well-financed campaign on the ground, their message was resoundingly rejected by voters. In the city where Ruth Davidson is an MSP, the Tory Leader has been humiliated by being made the face of a campaign that lost more than a quarter of their vote share. The Tory policy platform hasn’t survived the scrutiny of a by-election’s focus and people have seen through their populism. I hope now they will think hard about what they actually stand for in Edinburgh instead of just listing what they’re against, and perhaps become a more constructive party in helping take our city forward in the process.

Adam McVey is council leader and SNP councillor for Leith