SNP win the Midlothian East by-election

Friday March 26th 2021


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

SNP candidate Stuart McKenzie has won the Midlothian East council by-election after a close-run contest with his Conservative rival.

The by-election was called after Councillor Kenneth Baird (SNP) stepped down last month and saw a turnout of 35.8 per cent, resulting in 4,347 valid votes.

Mr McKenzie came out on top with 1, 963 votes, followed by Conservative candidate Eskbank and Newbattle community councillor Alan Symon with 1,656.

Neither candidate managed to gain the 2,174 votes required to meet 50 per cent of the total votes

Mr McKenzie said that he was delighted with the win and thanked all those involved.

He said: “I am relieved that we have won, it was hard to get to people and campaign in these unusual times without being able to meet face to face in the way we would have in the past.

“I am delighted by the result and look forward to taking on my new role.”

The vote saw Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate Margaret Davis knocked out in the first stage after winning just 178 votes as a preferred candidate.

With the winner needing to receive 2,174 votes to be named the next councillor for the ward, it was a tense count.

Stage one results saw Mr McKenzie take an early lead with 1,538 votes, while Mr Symon polled 1,279 votes and Labour candidate Hazel Flanagan came in third with 1,070 votes.

Scottish Greens candidate Joy Godfrey saw her share of the votes rise by 50 in the second stage count as Lib Dem votes were transferred to their second options but, with just 332 votes as her final tally, she was out of the running.

Stage three saw the gap between the SNP and Conservative candidate close, with Mr McKenzie finishing with 1,662 votes and Mr Symon on 1,364.

Labour bowed out with a final tally of 1,222 – not enough to challenge the front runners.

And so it came down to where the Labour votes would go in the final stage.

The count was held in Newbattle Community Campus, Dalkeith, under strict social distancing measures.

Perspex screens separated the counters and the candidates and their teams as they monitored proceedings.

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