MSPs hit back amid doubt over fairness of election

MSPs who won marginal victories in the 2007 Holyrood elections yesterday defended their right to sit in the parliament after the man who led the inquiry into the voting fiasco questioned the validity of poll results.

Ron Gould, the Canadian specialist who carried out an investigation into the election, said he "was not comfortable" that all 129 MSPs in Holyrood received more votes than their opponents.

Question marks were raised about whether they should be in the Scottish Parliament following publication of the Commons Scottish affairs committee into the election fiasco where more than 150,000 votes were ruled invalid.

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The narrowest result was in Cunninghame North where Nationalist Kenny Gibson saw off former Labour minister Allan Wilson by just 48 votes.

Mr Wilson was denied a recount even though there were 1,015 spoilt papers. But Mr Gibson was dismissive of the idea that maybe he should not be there.

"Unless Ron Gould or the House of Commons committee can read the minds of those voters who spoilt their ballots, these comments sound like unhelpful sour grapes," he said.

His SNP colleague Kenny MacAskill took Edinburgh East from Labour with a majority of 1,382, but there were 2,521 spoilt papers. "To think that we shouldn't be there is to assume all the spoilt papers would have gone one way," he said.

Liberal Democrat Jim Tolson took Dunfermline West by 476 with 757 spoilt papers. He said: "I am entirely confident about the result in my constituency, not least because of the massive swing which my colleague Jim Rennie got in the preceding general election."

Labour's Lewis Macdonald kept hold of his Aberdeen central seat by 682. On the night, SNP leader Alex Salmond forced a recount.

"The two results were almost identical and looking at where the spoilt papers came from, they were evenly split, so I feel completely comfortable with my victory," said Mr Macdonald.

The report has also sparked controversy because MPs have concluded that the Scottish Office, which was blamed for the fiasco, should keep control of the elections. MSPs have asked for administrative control to be devolved to Holyrood.


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THE high number of spoiled papers meant there were question marks over many results. A dozen seats had majorities of fewer than 1,000 – eight SNP wins and two each for Labour and the Lib Dems.

The most marginal was Cunninghame North won by Nationalist Kenny Gibson from Labour minister Allan Wilson by a mere 48 votes.

In Aberdeen North, Labour's Lewis Macdonald held off the SNP challenge by 682 votes after a recount.

Some of the most controversial were Lib Dem Jim Tolson's win by 476 in West Dunfermline where there were 757 spoiled ballot papers; Labour's Mary Mulligan in Linlithgow by 1,150 with 1,722 spoiled papers; Nationalist Angela Constance in Livingston by 870 with 1,634 spoiled papers; and SNP justice secretary Kenny MacAskill in Edinburgh East by 1,382 with 2,521 spoiled papers.