SNP wins by-election in Gordon Brown constituency

Marie Penman was elected with 1460 votes. Picture: Neil Doig
Marie Penman was elected with 1460 votes. Picture: Neil Doig
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THE SNP has won a council by-election victory in Gordon Brown’s Westminster constituency – as opinion polls continue to show the Nationalists are on course to make sweeping gains from Labour in May’s General Election.

Former prime minister Mr Brown held the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency for Labour, with a 23,009 majority over the SNP at the 2010 general election. However, Nationalist politicians said the by-election result showed “how weak” Labour was in its own heartlands, with the latest opinion polls suggesting the party could face electoral meltdown north of the Border in May.

An Ipsos Mori poll for STV News found record support levels for the Nationalists had continued, with 52 per cent planning on voting for Nicola Sturgeon’s party, and Labour on 24 per cent.

Seat projections suggest if that was the result of the 7 May election, the SNP could increase its number of MPs from six to 55 while Labour – who won 41 Scottish seats in 2005 – could be left with four MPs north of the Border.

The SNP achieved a 13 per cent swing from Labour in the by-election on 2012 council elections for the Kirkcaldy East ward.

Newly elected nationalist councillor Marie Penman took 47.3 per cent of the Thursday’s by-election vote, compared with 35.3 per cent for Labour. The by-election for Fife Council, which saw a 27.3 per cent turnout, was called following the resignation of former SNP councillor Arthur Morrison, after it was revealed he received his £16,000 salary while living in Austria.

At the council elections in 2012, Mr Morrison finished third in the multi-member ward behind two Labour councillors, whereas in the by-election the SNP came first.

Nationalist campaign bosses said the by-election result and the latest polling results showed Labour would face heavy losses in May’s general election. SNP organisation convener Douglas Chapman said: “This SNP victory in Gordon Brown’s backyard will chill Labour to the core across Scotland and shows how little trust people have left in the Labour party.”

Labour will select a candidate to replace Mr Brown, who is standing down after 32 years as an MP, with party campaigner Michael Marra going up against local councillor Kenny Selbie for the ­nomination.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “Any seats taken by the SNP from Labour will simply help to return David Cameron to Downing Street. The only way to beat the Tories is to vote for Labour candidates.”

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