Midlothian returns SNP MSPs to Holyrood

Midlothian last week returned its two SNP MSPs to Holyrood with gains, while Labour saw a fall in their vote across the county.

Thursday, 12th May 2016, 1:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2016, 2:17 pm
Midlothian North & Musselburgh Constituency count, Lasswade Centre, Colin Beattie celebrates his election win with wife Lisa

At Lasswade Centre, Colin Beattie (SNP) was returned as MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh in the Scottish Election. Mr Beattie secured the seat with 16,948 votes, (48.9 per cent). That’s a slight increase of 1.6 per cent from his 2011 vote.

In his acceptance speech he said: “Firstly, my heartfelt thanks to the voters of Midlothian North and Musselburgh for once again placing their trust in me and re-electing me as their representative at the Scottish Parliament.

“I take that trust seriously. They have shown they have confidence in me and I will honour that.

“I would like to thank the returning officer Kenneth Lawrie and the counting staff here in the hall, it’s been a long night. I would also like to thank the staff who put in long shifts at the polling stations throughout the day.

“I would especially like to thank my election agent Lisa Beattie, who despite two slipped discs,she has worked so hard to keep this campaign moving forward.

“I thank my campaign team and the many SNP volunteers who put in so much time and hard work over many months.

“Without their support I wouldn’t be here.

“I would also like to thank my fellow candidates for a good campaign and their participation in this democratic process.

“I intend to continue to give a strong voice for this constituency. And whether you voted for me or not I will represent you to the best of my ability.

“I’m immensely proud of what the SNP government has achieved. But much more remains to be done.

“We have an ambitious programme for Scotland and we all want and hope for a fairer and more prosperous country for all of us. I have an ambitious vision for our constituency and will endeavour to work with others to achieve it.

“Tonight these visions came a bit closer – and Scotland, and our constituency, move forward once more.”

Labour held on to second place with Bernard Harkins securing 9,913 votes, an 8.6 per cent drop on his 2011 share of the vote.

He said: “A very good election has been fought. Congratulations to Colin, going to Holyrood once again.

“Personally I was proud to stand in this Holyrood election however there is no denying that I’m disappointed with the result.

“I would like to thank everyone for working so hard on this campaign.”

Jeremy Balfour (Con), who was unable to attend the count due to ill health, was third with 6,267 votes.

The Liberal Democrats’ Jackie Bell polled 1,557 votes.

Speaking after the declaration, she said: “The last few elections have not been easy ones for the Liberal Democrats.

“We took a decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives, where we worked hard, a lot of achievements were made. We paid for that at the last General Election.

“But since then we have had a change of leadership. Tim Farron has been taking the party punching above its weight at Westminster.”

The biggest winners of the night in Midlothian were the Conservatives who saw their votes rise from 2,541 (in 2011) to 6,267.

The SNP and Liberal Democrats also saw an increase in their vote from the 2011 election - SNP up by 2,869 and the Lib Dems vote rose by 303. Labour’s vote fell by 1,170.

In the local regional list result Midlothian North and Musselburgh votes to go towards the total Lothian vote were - Rise 104 votes, Conservatives 6,425, Greens 2,530, Labour 9,455, Liberal Democrats 951, SNP 14,208, Scottish Women Equality 250, Solidarity 171 and UKIP 718.

The turnout for Midlothian North and Musselburgh was 55 per cent. With 140 rejected ballot papers.

At Springwood Hall in Kelso a delighted Christine Grahame (SNP), was also returned for her second term as Midlothian South, Tweeedale and Lauderdale MSP, while Labour were beaten into third place by the Conservatives.

She said: “I polled 2,176 more votes in 2016 while my share of the total votes cast went up to 45 per cent. That percentage is greater than the combined shares given to my Tory and Labour opponents.

“It was extremely satisfying to see my majority rise by 944 votes to a very respectable 5,868.”

She pointed out that the SNP in her constituency had also polled strongly in the South of Scotland regional list, recording more than 14,000 votes – well above the Tory and Labour totals of 10,230 and 5,005 respectively.

Ms Grahame added: “A vast majority of those who voted in this area have not only placed their faith in me to represent them for the next five years, but seem more than satisfied with the record of the SNP Government over the last nine years.

“I thank everyone who supported me and promise I will work hard to represent all constituents irrespective of their political persuasion.”

Ms Grahame, who won the seat in 2011 by defeating Liberal Democrat Jeremy Purvis, increased her total of votes, her share of the vote and her majority this time round.

The turnout in the constituency was 59 per cent.