Scottish election 2021: Who will win the battle for Lothian's seven regional list seats?
Whatever the result of Thursday's election, Lothian is guaranteed at least three new MSPs elected from the regional list.
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The Tories won three of the seven list seats last time and Labour and the Greens two each.
But Labour's Neil Findlay is stepping down, Green Andy Wightman has quit the party and is running as an independent in Highlands and Islands, and although Tory Gordon Lindhurst is standing again, he has been pushed too far down the party's list to get back.
The list, which provides Holyrood with its proportional make-up, is arguably the most difficult part of the election to predict.
While some constituencies have huge majorities, the allocation of seats on the list can often come down to very fine margins.
So who will win Lothian’s seven seats this time?
The Tories are certain to get at least two – which means Miles Briggs will be back, joined by city councillor Susan Webber – and they are also likely to get a third, which would see Jeremy Balfour returned.
And if the party fails to hold Edinburgh Central, which Ruth Davidson narrowly won last time, but the regional vote stays the same, they could qualify for a fourth list seat, so Rebecca Fraser, case worker for a Tory MSP, would get in.
Labour's top list candidate Daniel Johnson is hoping to hold onto his constituency seat in Edinburgh Southern, but if the party maintains its share of the regional vote it should get two on the list as well – Sarah Boyack would return and Foysol Choudhury, chair of Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Commission, would become Lothian’s first ethnic minority MSP.
In 2016 Labour was only 278 votes away from beating the Greens for the last of the region’s list seats, so if the party improved its showing this time it could win another. That would see Edinburgh Central candidate and disability campaigner Maddy Kirkman elected to Holyrood.
The SNP doesn't have any Lothian list seats at the moment because it holds six out of the area’s nine constituencies. Its list is topped by Glasgow councillor Graham Campbell, but unless there is surprise upset somewhere he is unlikely to get in.
The Lib Dems don't have any list MSPs either and their number one list candidate Alex Cole-Hamilton hopes to retain his Edinburgh Western constituency seat.
The party did not perform that well in list votes in 2016, but it is making big efforts this time and leader Willie Rennie has said he believes Fred Mackintosh, number two on the party’s Lothian list, could win a seat.
Lothian is where the Greens got their first parliamentarian in the UK when Robin Harper was elected as a list MSP at the first Scottish Parliament elections in 1999 and the party doubled its representation here to two in 2003, losing the second seat in 2007, but regaining it in 2016.
The party’s number one list candidate Alison Johnstone is guaranteed re-election.
Mr Wightman, the second Green elected last time, has left the party and is replaced in the number two slot by Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater, who has had a high profile during the campaign and is hopeful of getting elected, but as the final seat allocated the second Green, it is inevitably vulnerable.
Former SNP justice secretary Kenny MacAskill is the top list candidate for Alex Salmond’s new Alba party.
He is the party’s second biggest name, but it is hard to judge how much support Alba will attract.
Mr MacAskill says: “I think we’re polling better than the opinion polls give us credit for. Our activist base is out, we’re probably the most active party in this election and I think we will reap some success on Thursday.”
Altogether there are 18 parties and one individual standing on the Lothian list.
The Abolish the Scottish Parliament Party wants to end devolution and turn the Holyrood building into a museum for the British armed forces.
George Galloway’s All For Unity is asking for the votes of all anti-independence supporters to stop an SNP majority.
The Animal Welfare Party wants maximum ten-year jail sentences for animal abuse, subsidies for intensive farming redirected to plant-based agriculture and the phasing out of greyhound and horse racing.
The Communist Party of Britain says workers in Edinburgh have been priced out of their own city while the Capital has become a “playground for developers and tourists”.
The Freedom Alliance campaigns mainly against Covid restrictions.
Reform UK, formerly the Brexit Party, is likewise campaigning for no more lockdowns and against domestic vaccine passports.
The Scottish Family Party opposes state “interference” in family life, “corrupting” sex education, abortion, the smacking ban and assisted suicide, and says it promotes marriage, freedom of speech and traditional Scottish culture.
The Scottish Libertarian Party opposes the Hate Crime Act, says taxation is “equivalent to theft” and wants an end to lockdowns.
Scottish Renew wants to rejoin the EU and does not take a stance on independence, but does support a second referendum.
The Scottish Women’s Equality Party wants to end to violence against women and calls for a “care-led” recovery from the pandemic, universal free childcare and an end to the gender pay gap.
The Social Democratic Party – the continuing SDP which did not join the Liberal Democrats – advocates a “social market” economy and argues for an English parliament with equivalent powers to Holyrood.
UKIP wants to abolish the Scottish Parliament and return to the pre-1999 arrangement with Scotland run by the UK Government’s Scottish Office.
Former Tory councillor Ashley Graczyk, who quit the party in 2018 and is standing for Holyrood as an independent, describes herself as “pro-independence and pro-European”.
She lists her top five priorities as Scottish residency cards for EU citizens to protect their rights; an Edinburgh Citizens’ Charter; a directly-elected Edinburgh Mayor to replace the Lord Provost; an urgent review of rent control legislation; and advocating for an independent Scotland in the EU.
Conservatives – 3 list MSPs
Labour – 2 list MSPs
Greens – 2 list MSPs