Scottish Election 2021 results: Huge voter turnout fails to shake up Edinburgh's political make-up

A deluge of rain could not stop Edinburgh residents from producing one of the biggest turnouts in Holyrood history - but when the storm cleared not much had changed in the city’s political landscape.

Day two of the count at Highland Centre, Ingilston. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The capital’s political heavyweights, like the SNP’s Ben MacPherson, Gordon MacDonald, Ash Denham, Labour’s Daniel Johnson and the Liberal Democrats’ Alex Cole-Hamilton, all increased their majorities in their constituencies - and the Conservatives, Labour and the Greens achieved the same number of regional list seats they acquired in 2016.

The one big result of the weekend, however, belonged to the SNP.

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Angus Robertson’s triumphant return to his home constituency of Edinburgh Central was formally crowned with a 4,700-vote majority - as the SNP stole Ruth Davidson’s former seat from the Tories.

With the city centre constituency now under the control of the nationalists, Mr Robertson, who is tipped for a top job in Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet, used his victory speech to plant a flag for independence in the heart of the city.

"This result is an emphatic and unparalleled victory for the SNP in Edinburgh Central,” he said.

"The people – many of whom stood in queues during rain and hail – have spoken and their democratic choice has been to elect an SNP MSP in support of an SNP government dealing with Covid recovery, for the re-election of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and that Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands.

"In this most European of capital cities, people have resoundingly rejected the party of Brexit and Boris Johnson.

“The public has rejected all the parties that want to block an independence referendum."

The other three SNP candidates returned to the Scottish parliament also used their victory speeches to call for independence, and for ‘Scotland to be a part of Europe’ - although the candidates stopped short of mentioning the European Union itself.

The results now leave the capital with four SNP MSPs (in Edinburgh Central, Eastern, Northern and Leith, and Pentlands), three Labour MSPs (Edinburgh Southern and two list seats), three Conservative MSPs (all list seats), two Green Party MSPs (all list seats), and one Liberal Democrat (Edinburgh Western).

The new list MSPs for the Lothians are Miles Briggs, Susan Webber, and Jeremy Balfour (Conservatives); Sarah Boyack and Foysol Choudhury (Labour); and Alison Johnstone and Lorna Slater (Greens).

Ms Webber - a first-time-MSP - is currently an Edinburgh councillor for the Pentland Hills ward, as well as the Edinburgh Tories’ transport spokesperson.

Also entering parliament for the first time is Mr Choudhury, a Bangladeshi-born British businessman and chairman of the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council.

In Edinburgh Southern, Mr Johnson increased his vote from 13,597 in 2016, to 20,760 - quadrupling his majority.

In Edinburgh Western, Mr Cole-Hamilton also increased his majority - this time just stopping shy of 10,000.

As well as tactical voting - population changes in the city contributed to the increased majorities of the incumbents.

Edinburgh’s population has been growing since the last election, with between 1,000 and 2,000 extra homes being built every year, meaning there were as many as 10,000 extra potential voters in the city for this year’s election.

This was borne out in the number of registered voters heading into polling day - 401,321 residents registered, with 102,138 of those being postal voters.

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