Bad night for Tories as SNP support soars

SNP candidate Heather Anderson, centre, seen enjoying the count with fellow SNP councillors Elaine Thornton Nichol and Claire Ramage.
SNP candidate Heather Anderson, centre, seen enjoying the count with fellow SNP councillors Elaine Thornton Nichol and Claire Ramage.

The Conservative Party’s terrible night in the Borders on Sunday continued throughout Scotland on Monday morning as the Scottish National Party’s share of the vote soared.

A huge swing to the Nationalists here saw them soar to victory with 28.2% of the vote in the Borders region European Election count, and they went on to take half of the six Scottish seats with 37.84% of the vote nationwide.

Shona Haslam chats to fellow Conservative councillor Scott Hamilton as counting continues at the Volunteer Hall in Galashiels on Sunday.

Shona Haslam chats to fellow Conservative councillor Scott Hamilton as counting continues at the Volunteer Hall in Galashiels on Sunday.

The Tory vote was split with those for the Brexit Party, which dominated results UK-wide, a statistic that at least has given the Conservatives a way to spin the result in their favour in that they now say it’s a directive from the public that Brexit has to be delivered.

The Borders’ Tory MP John Lamont has been in Canada this week with the Scottish Affairs Committee, but relayed his thoughts on the vote.

He said: “These elections were always going to be challenging given the UK Government has not delivered Brexit as promised in March.

“I am pleased that we retained our Scottish MEP, but some Scottish Conservatives expressed their frustration with where politics is at the moment.

“I was elected on a manifesto to respect the result of the 2016 referendum and to deliver Brexit. That is what now needs to happen.”

“What is still very clear is that in the Borders, most voters still support pro UK parties.

“However, because this unionist vote was divided, the SNP were able to top the poll here.

“Despite saying this election wasn’t about independence, as soon as the dust has settled, Nicola Sturgeon is now claiming every vote for the SNP is a vote for independence.

“The last thing the Borders wants at this challenging time is to reopen the debate about leaving the UK.”

No local candidates were granted a seat once the votes were assessed nationwide.

Shona Haslam, leader of Scottish Borders Council, was third on the Tories’ list. Only their top candidate was elected.

Mrs Haslam said: “We are delighted to have retained Nosheena Mobarik as our MEP in Scotland, however, we are very aware of the clear message that people throughout the UK have expressed.

“We must get on and deliver a Brexit that secures our economy for the future.

“Nationalism once again failed to secure a majority in Scotland and we will continue to work hard for Scotland’s place within the UK.

“The SNP Government is failing the people in Scotland with education standards falling, crisis in our NHS and our communities suffering due to lack of police numbers.

“It is time to deliver Brexit and get back to delivering for Scotland and the UK.”

The SNP took three of the Scottish seats ... not enough for fifth-placed councillor Heather Anderson, but she was not perturbed.

Bearing a huge smile on the night, she said: “This is a brilliant result for us.

“We got over 28%, right at the top of the poll.

“We’ve put a huge dent in the Conservative vote and if this is replicated across Scotland it sends a clear message from Scotland ... we want to remain in the European Union.”

The Liberal Democrats, who took a severe bashing at the last General Election, also showed up well, as did the Scottish Greens, who had what has be be their best ever result in the Borders.

The Lib Dems candidate, former councillor Catriona Bhatia, was also third on her party’s list, and she, too, was delighted at the swing to the Lib Dems locally.

She said: “It’s great to see our share of the vote increasing in the Borders and our message of staying in the EU and stopping Brexit being popular here.

“There has been a strong remain vote, and we’ve benefited from that, as well as from a great deal of local work which has been going on by our activists, so it’s been a good night for us.”

There was less local support for the Change UK Party, for which Selkirk GP Kate Forman was third on the list.

And the two independent candidates polled the least votes, with Selkirkshire Councillor Gordon Edgar amassing just 370 votes across the Borders.

However, he somehow rallied over the rest of Scotland and made 6,128 votes nationwide ... not enough, however, for him to take back his £5,000 deposit for entering the race.

Mr Edgar, who is the council’s transport chief, said he was unable to do much in the way of campaigning in the week before the vote, as he was in hospital.

He told us: “I wanted to make sure Scotland was in the right place, and that we would be still speaking to our partners in Europe so we could still trade with them on relatively good terms.

“But the parties took it over and turned it into a referendum.

“I’m not disappointed I took part, but I’m a wee bit disappointed I lost my deposit.

“It’s heartening to see I took a fair few votes across the country, though.

“I have received some really nice comments from people who say they’re sorry I didn’t get in.”