SNP city seats fall to Labour and Lib Dems

LABOUR'S Ian Murray stormed to victory in Edinburgh South with almost 55 per cent of the votes and a 15,514 majority over the SNP.

Saturday, 10th June 2017, 11:59 am
Updated Saturday, 10th June 2017, 12:03 pm
Ian Murray celebrates his win. Picture:
 Neil Hanna
Labour's Ian Murray celebrates his win. Picture: Neil Hanna

Scotland’s only Labour MP for the past two years, he saw off the SNP challenge from former MSP Jim Eadie to secure the seat in style.

He said the result was both a clear message that Theresa May could not have a “blank cheque for a hard Tory Brexit” and “the final nail in the coffin” of a new independence referendum.

And he celebrated the fact that he will now be joined by six other Scottish Labour MPs, crediting Scottish party leader Kezia Dugdale for the breakthrough: “To Kezia Dugdale, thank you for everything you have done to lead us to this.”

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And he acknowledged tactical voting had helped him to victory. “You have given me a huge majority. I want to thank people from all parties and none who voted for me.”

When Mr Murray was first elected in 2010 his majority was just 316. He saw that rise to 2637 at the general election two years ago while all of Labour’s other 40 Scottish MPs lost their seats. Some polls suggested he would lose this time, but his success in retaining the seat was one of the highlights of the night for Labour.

The party also won Midlothian and East Lothian from the SNP. In Midlothian, Danielle Rowley defeated Owen Thompson by 885 votes. She said she was delighted with the result and particularly proud to become Midlothian’s first female MP.

She attributed Labour’s success to a good campaign across the board from both Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale. She added: “On the doorsteps people are just fed up of any talk of the constitution, another referendum and Brexit. People just want to be focusing on the issues.”

Mr Thompson, who previously had a majority of 9859, said: “You win, you lose some. National swings clearly had a big impact here, our opposition parties turned it on the referendum or devolution matters.

“I’m disappointed to only have been Midlothian’s MP for two years, there was still work to be done, but I wish Danielle all the best.”

In East Lothian, Martin Whifield had a 3083 majority over SNP MP George Kerevan.

Mr Whitfield said local issues were the top priority for voters. “They want someone to stand up and advocate for better jobs, schools, better NHS, travel and that’s what I will do because that’s what they’ve asked me to do.”

Mr Kerevan, who won the seat last time with a majority of 6803, claimed it had been a “very odd election” locally. He said: “Clearly the rise in the Labour vote here and in Midlothian is due to the Corbyn factor. Scottish Labour fought this campaign without mentioning Corbyn. There is going to be a little reckoning there.”

Christine Jardine won back Edinburgh West for the Lib Dems with a majority of 2988. Michelle Thomson had taken the seat for the SNP in 2015 before a scandal blew up over her property deals and she had to resign the party whip. Ms Jardine’s victory means a second defeat for SNP candidate Toni Giugliano, who also stood in the equivalent Holyrood seat last year.

Ms Jardine said she planned to follow in the footsteps of former Lib Dem MPs in the seat, including Donald Gorrie and John Barrett. She said: “The result proves the Lib Dems are back in the areas which were traditionally Liberal areas of Scotland. People are returning to Liberal values.”

Meanwhile, Tory MSP Miles Briggs failed in his bid to move to Westminster by capturing Edinburgh South West from the SNP. The Nationalists’ justice spokeswoman Joanna Cherry won by 1097 votes over the Tories. She won the seat in 2015 with a majority of 8135 with Labour in second place.

Disappointed Tories said Lab­our’s vote in the seat had held up better than they expected.

Ms Cherry launched a strong attack on Mr Briggs in her speech at the count. She said: “My main opponent from the Unionist Party fought a wholly negative campaign based on an opposition to a democratic referendum process and designed to avoid any scrutiny of the Tories’ miserable record at Westminster. Thank you to the people of Edinburgh South West for seeing through that campaign for what it was.”

The SNP also held on to Edinburgh North & Leith and Edinburgh East.

Deidre Brock was returned as MP for North & Leith with a 1625 majority over Labour, down from 5597 two years ago. Hailing her victory as a vote against Tory austerity, she noted the SNP’s reduced numbers and said: “Those of us returning to that creaking mausoleum will have to redouble our efforts and we will do that because there is no more important time for good people to stand against an uncaring government.”

Tommy Sheppard had a maj­ority of 3425 over Labour in Edinburgh East, reduced from 9106 in 2015. He said Labour had done “remarkably well” in the general election, but pointed to the divisions inside the party.

He said: “People are putting faith in the Labour Party because they like what Jeremy Corbyn stands for – but I hope they know they are sending MPs to Westminster with a ticket to oppose Jeremy Corbyn.”

He said the SNP were the “clear victors” in the election and promised to continue the SNP’s resistance to a hard Brexit.

“No matter what happens I promise you that we will look again at Brexit – we are determined not to be dragged out from a partnership with our European neighbours against the will of the people of Scotland.”

The SNP’s Hannah Bardell held on to Livingston with a reduced majority – down from 16,843 to 3878. She tweeted: “Thank you to the wonderful people of the Livingston constituency for re-electing me as their MP, so humbled.”

And in neighbouring Linlithgow & East Falkirk, Martyn Day also retained his seat, but saw his majority cut from 12,934 to 2919.

He said: “I feel absolutely knackered but elated to be endorsed by the people of Linlithgow & East Falkirk for another term. It’s been an honour to represent them for two years and I’m delighted to be back to represent the constituency once again.

“It’s going to be an interesting parliament, we know the big business is going to be Brexit and we need to make sure we get the best deal for Scotland out of that.

“But there’s also the day-to-day running of the country and every other that needs dealt with as well.”

Turn-out figures for Thursday’s election were slightly down on 2015, but persistent heavy rain for a large part of the day did not seem to deter too many voters from making the trip to the polling station.

Edinburgh South saw the highest turnout in the area with 74.11 per cent of people using their vote, closely followed by Edinburgh West with 73.84 per cent.

In North & Leith, the figure was 71.16, while turnout in South West was 69.39 per cent and 66.05 per cent in East.

East Lothian saw 70.65 per cent of voters taking part, while turnout in Midlothian was 66.26 per cent.

Some 65.08 per cent turned out in Linlithgow & Falkirk East and 64.65 per cent in Livingston.

The count for all the Edinburgh constituencies took place at Meadowbank sports centre, but it was the last time the venue will see the thrills and spills of an election – the building is due to be demolished later this year as part of a redevelopment.