Scottish elections 2021: Why all three main party candidates for East Lothian have ended up as MSPs
They fought each other at the election in a key marginal seat – but all three of the main party candidates in East Lothian have ended up as MSPs.
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The SNP's Paul McLennan won the constituency from Labour with a majority of 1,179 – the first seat to change hands in last week's results – but Labour candidate Martin Whitfield and Tory Craig Hoy were both elected to the Scottish Parliament on the South of Scotland list.
And as new MSPs began their two-day induction, the trio said they hoped East Lothian would benefit from having all three of them a Holyrood.
Mr McLennan said he was “ecstatic and incredibly humbled” at being elected as MSP for the constituency. Along with Covid recovery he named his priorities as promoting economic development in the county and tackling child poverty.
"One is about creating wealth and creating jobs but there are also 5,000 kids in poverty in East Lothian and we need to focus more on that.
"Everybody sees East Lothan as quite a prosperous area but it's like a microcosm of Scotland for me - there are some prosperous areas, but there are some areas we need to work hard on."
He said it would be "weird" to see his erstwhile rivals among the other new MSPs.
He said: "There are certain responsibilities for constituency and list MSPs but I'm sure in areas we can work together on we will do that."
The first job for Mr Whitfield on Monday morning was to go to Dirleton Primary School, where he has taught since losing his seat as East Lothian MP, to say goodbye to his P7 class.
As well as standing in East Lothian he was third on Labour’s South of Scotland list and just made it into the parliament with the last of the region’s seven seats. "It was very close – less than 200 votes in it,” he said.
He said his priority would be young people and helping to ensure children were able to get back to “whatever the new normal is”. “There is an onus on politicians to make sure that can happen and our young people are supported.”
He said it was an "amazing coincidence" that three of the Eat Lothian candidates were now MSPs and said he hoped they could find some consensus.
"When we look at the stuff we agree on – a new Haddington railway station is the obvious one – it means that rather than one person sitting in the room with whoever the appropriate minister is there should be three of us. It means when we come to fight for proper local authority funding there would be three of us, I would hope.”
Tory Craig Hoy was third on his party’s list but the two candidates above him were elected in constituencies so he was the first of the three successful Conservatives in South of Scotland to be allocated a list seat.
He said education and business would be two of his main areas of interest.
And on East Lothian’s unusual trio of MSPs he said: “It's almost like buses – you vote for one and three come along at once.
“You can expected to see some healthy competitive engagement and I think that means East Lothian will be better served.”