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General Election 2010: Lib Dem Challenge is seen off by Labour in city seats

LABOUR supporters in Edinburgh were jubilant today after holding on to two city seats they feared were about to be lost to the Liberal Democrats.

Ian Murray was elected MP for Edinburgh South by just 316 votes after a recount which ended shortly before 5am.

And Mark Lazarowicz held on in Edinburgh North & Leith with a reduced majority of 1,724.

The Lib Dems had been targeting both seats, with candidates in place for several years and a flood of literature delivered to homes during the election campaign, but it all ended in disappointment.

Click here to find out the results in your part of the Lothians.

Labour also saw increased majorities in Chancellor Alistair Darling's Edinburgh South West seat and in Edinburgh East, where former councillor Sheila Gilmore was elected to replace veteran MP Gavin Strang.

And the party came second to the Lib Dems in Edinburgh West, pushing the Tories – who used to hold the seat – into third place.

Mr Murray, who was only selected as Labour's candidate in Edinburgh South a couple of months ago after Nigel Griffiths announced he was quitting as MP, was defending a majority of just 405 votes against an onslaught from the Lib Dems.

In his acceptance speech, he paid tribute to the fight put up by his main opponent, while taking the opportunity to make a dig at the Lib Dem-led city council.

He said: "Fred Mackintosh has run the most wonderful campaign, and I think, Fred, that your council have let you down in this particular campaign."

Speaking after the result, he attributed his win to the work of his predecessor, Mr Griffiths: "The incumbent member of Parliament had worked very, very hard. Door by door, street by street, even when we were out with Nigel today going round the streets, there was great warmth for him and that's held us in good stead tonight."

But Mr Mackintosh claimed that the result was the triumph of fear over hope. He said: "Ian hasn't put out anything in the last few weeks that says what Labour would do. He has frightened people about the council and about the government."

Mr Mackintosh accepted that concerns about the council had been a factor, but said: "It's something we could have dealt with if there had not also been a national message about fear."

Mr Lazarowicz had also faced a threat in Edinburgh North & Leith from Lib Dem candidate Kevin Lang, but was re-elected with a majority only slightly down, from 2,153 to 1,724.

Mr Lazarowicz, MP since 2001, said: "I'm delighted at the result. We knew it would be close, because one of our opponents raised a very expensive and very negative campaign and people did not respond to that.

"I found people were pleased we were putting out a positive message. There was negative campaigning, but I thought it was important to rise above that. I think it became clear to us over the last couple of days that our message was getting through."

Mr Lang said he was pleased with his record 16,016 votes.

"I am disappointed not to have won but we have secured our highest ever share of the vote and highest ever number of votes in this constituency, so it's no longer the safe seat the Labour Party has taken for granted.

"However, there was great concern on the doorsteps of a potential Conservative government and that's impacted here, we've not been immune."

Mr Darling's Edinburgh South West seat was targeted by the Tories with a procession of shadow ministers visiting to back candidate Jason Rust. But the Chancellor increased his majority from 7,242 to 8,447.

Mr Darling said: "It is a great honour and privilege to serve as MP for a constituency in this city and I look forward to serving my constituents in the next parliament."

Mr Rust said: "We would have hoped for better but I think that given the trend at present, especially for urban seats in Scotland, we're probably one of the stronger results in Scotland."

He said the Tory vote had held up in strongholds such as Colinton and Craiglockhart, with inroads also into some areas of Wester Hailes.

Edinburgh West Lib Dem candidate Tim McKay, who attracted criticism for travelling to Australia after the election was called, poked fun at his critics in his speech, thanking his agent, "who is completely unflappable, no matter what country in the world you phone him from".

He denied that his trip had been a factor in the election: "Nobody mentioned Australia on the stump other than a few colleagues in a jovial manner."

In the Lib Dem stronghold of Edinburgh West, former policeman Mike Crockart was elected to replace the retiring MP John Barrett, but the majority was slashed from 13,600 to 3,803.

Mr Crockart said: "We've seen that right across Scotland and it's very clearly shown here that the politics of fear has won out, that when people in Scotland were faced with the choice of continuing Labour or voting for the Conservatives there was sufficient fear for them to continue to vote for Labour."

He denied the unpopularity of the Lib Dem council had been a factor in his reduced majority: "The council are mid-term right now with two years to go. They've had a lot of very difficult decisions that were ducked by the previous Labour administration that they had to take forward. Some people have found those decisions unpopular but they had to be made."

Labour's Cammy Day was delighted at beating the Tories into third place. He said: "I am extremely pleased. It wasn't a priority seat, and if we had been third I would have been pleased, so this is a great boost. The Lib Dems have made a mess of the city and people were voting on that in West at the ballot box."

In Edinburgh East, former housing convener Sheila Gilmore comfortably saw off an SNP challenge to hold the seat for Labour with a majority up from 6,202 to 9,181.

 
 
 

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