Scottish election 2021 results: The winners and losers

There seems to be one major winner in the first slew of results to come out of the Scottish elections – the SNP.

The only party to actually gain seats so far, as the majority of the first-past-the-post constituency votes were declared, the nationalists won East Lothian from Scottish Labour, while they also scooped Ayr from the Scottish Conservatives.

Meanwhile, former Westminster leader Angus Robertson took Ruth Davidson’s former stomping ground from the Scottish Conservatives.

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Friday’s results do not include the list seats, which will be declared on Saturday due to changes to the way that votes are counted during the coronavirus pandemic. Around a third of the constituency seats are also due to be declared on Saturday.

Liberal Democrat candidate Alex Cole Hamilton at the count in Ingliston Highland Centre, Edinburgh.

Paul McLennan took East Lothian – Iain Gray’s former seat – from Scottish Labour, which has held the constituency since the inception of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

Mr Gray held the seat in the 2016 election with an increased majority, when a lot of his Scottish Labour colleagues lost theirs. However, Mr McLennan took 39.2 per cent of the vote, trumping Mr Gray’s share five years ago.

In Ayr, the SNP won with a majority of just 170 seats, with Siobhian Brown taking the seat from Tory John Scott, who has served as an SNP in he constituency since a by-election in 2000.

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Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar at the count for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow. Picture date: Friday May 7, 2021.

Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton won Edinburgh Western with 55 per cent of the vote – almost 10,000 more than his nearest rival the SNP, while party leader Willie Rennie also retained his seat in north east Fife, doubling his majority.

The party also held on to its other two constituency seats in Orkney, where Liam McArthur has held his seat and Shetland – however there, the party’s majority over the SNP was slashed from 4,000 to 800.

In Orkney, the Lib Dem vote was also down on 2016, with a 4.8 per cent swing to the SNP.

"I can smile now," Mr Rennie said.

He added: “I was brought up in North East Fife, in Strathmiglo and went to school in Cupar, so it's a real honour to be elected with such a majority.”

However, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, seen as a key Liberal Democrat target, was held by the SNP’s Maree Todd, despite a swing of 2.6 per cent to Liberal Democrat candidate Molly Nolan.

In a year when 34 of the 129 SNP MSPs are opting not to stand again and to leave Holyrood, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon will have been relieved to see some of her remaining big hitters retain their seats.

Deputy first minister John Swinney – now the longest serving parliamentarian in Scotland after Roseanna Cunningham stepped down – won 49.5 per cent of the vote in Perthshire North, a slight increase on 2016 results.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes also won her seat in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch with a massive 15,000 majority over nearest rival, Tory Jamie Halcro Johnston, who won just 8,331 votes.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing also had a comfortable victory in Inverness and Nairn.

Mr Swinney beat the Conservatives’ Murdo Fraser by 19,860 votes to 15,807, with Labour’s Ryan Smart and Liberal Democrat Peter Barrett lagging behind with just over 10 per cent of the vote between them.

"This is an emphatic endorsement of my candidacy here in Perthshire North,” said Mr Swinney.

"We had a larger gap between the SNP and the Conservatives in this election compared to the last election, so I'm delighted.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet secretary for economy, fair work and culture in the last parliament, also held her seat in Linlithgow, while Anabelle Ewing held Cowdenbeath for the SNP – a seat that Scottish Labour was believed to be feeling confident about.

Another seat which had been an optimistic target for Scottish Labour – Rutherglen – was held by the SNP’s Claire Haughey.

Glasgow Southside presented a strong showing from Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who saw his vote share rise from 20 per cent to 31 per cent.

However, Nicola Sturgeon also increased her vote share from 45 per cent to 60 per cent in what was the first showdown between two major party leaders in the history of British politics.

In Edinburgh Central, veteran politician and former SNP Westminster leader Mr Robertson scooped the seat, which was previously held by popular Ruth Davidson from the Scottish Conservatives – in a big win for the SNP.

With a majority of almost 5,000 over Scottish Conservatives candidate Scott Douglas, the result is the SNP’s best ever performance in Edinburgh Central.

Nearby Edinburgh Southern saw Scottish Labour’s only win of Friday when Daniel Johnson held his seat with a 10 per cent increase in his share of the vote from around 1,000 to over 4,000.

The Scottish Conservatives have won three seats so far. In Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Rachael Hamilton was well ahead of her nearest rival, although with a reduced majority, while Oliver Mundell increased his majority in Dumfriesshire.

Meanwhile, former Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw held on to his Eastwood seat, marginally increasing his lead over the SNP. Mr Carlaw won 17,911 votes, over 2,000 more than SNP’s Colm Merrick.

Professor Nicola McEwen, professor of territorial politics at Edinburgh University, said the loss of the Eastwood seat suggested that the SNP may not get their much sought-after majority of 65 seats.

She said: “It is looking perhaps less likely now than it was at the start of this when we were thinking about the gains that they could make.”

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