AN independent campaigner against hospital cuts delivered one of the biggest shocks of the election last night, ousting one of Labour’s leading MSPs. Dr Jean Turner, 63, who was standing in protest at planned hospital cutbacks in north Glasgow, defeated Brian Fitzpatrick in Strathkelvin and Bearsden by just a handful of votes.
The result was a sensational victory for the retired doctor, who was fighting to save Stobhill Hospital, which is threatened with downgrading under Greater Glasgow Health Board plans.
It was also a severe blow to Mr Fitzpatrick, 42, a Glasgow-educated lawyer who, in 1999, was head of policy in Donald Dewar’s policy unit.
Dr Turner won 10,988 votes, more than 31 per cent of the poll, beating Mr Fitzpatrick into second place with a majority of 38 votes and slashing his share of the vote by more than 20 per cent.
The initial reaction from the Labour Party was one of shock, with Brian Wilson, a party spokesman, describing the result as "very disappointing".
However, Dr Turner, who worked in the health service for 25 years, was delighted with the result, claiming it was a "wake-up call" for the Scottish Executive.
The longer term impact of the decision is likely to be far-reaching, with mainstream politicians being forced to take account of the public mood on decisions to close key public services such as schools and hospitals.