SNP crushed by Labour in Cowdenbeath

Labour has held the seat of Cowdenbeath in a Scottish Parliamentary by-election sparked by the death in November of the sitting MSP, Helen Eadie.

Labour has held the seat of Cowdenbeath in a Scottish Parliamentary by-election sparked by the death in November of the sitting MSP, Helen Eadie.

The former leader of Fife council Alex Rowley held the seat with an 11 per cent swing from the SNP to Labour on a turnout of almost 35 per cent, in the first significant electoral battle of the year that Scotland will vote on independence.

Rowley managed to increase the party’s majority to 5,488 from the 1,300 secured in the Scottish elections of 2011.

With 11,192 votes, Labour’s share of the vote increased from 46.5 per cent in 2011 to 55.8 per cent last night. The SNP, in second place, saw its share of the vote fall from 41.6 per cent to 28.4 per cent. The Conservatives came third, with UKIP fourth and the Liberal Democrats dropping into fifth.

Delivering his victory speech, Alex Rowley argued that the result was more than just a judgement on September’s referendum. Speaking following the count, he said:

“This is about a bigger vision for Scotland, a bigger vision than simply independence.

“It’s about full employment for every young person to get the opportunities that they deserve from their lifetime.

“It’s about elderly people living in Fife with dignity, and making sure when they need services those services are available.

“I will spend every day working hard to ensure that we do that.”

Picking up on the issue of the bedroom tax, which Left Foot Forward reported on yesterday, he continued:

“Finally, the message has got to go out in the Scottish Parliament right now that we can mitigate the bedroom tax.

“We can give people jobs, we can give people opportunities, we can do that with a strong, devolved Scottish Parliament working within the UK.”

For the SNP, its candidate Natalie McGarry sought to focus attention back to September’s vote on independence, preferring not to focus on the reasons why her party had been comprehensively defeated. She commented:

“In eight months’ time there is going to be a referendum, and people in this constituency and across Scotland will have a vote. I am confident that there will be yes majority in September.

“I heard on the doorsteps from a lot of traditional Labour voters who said: ‘Listen, Natalie, I’m not going to vote for you, but I am actually thinking about voting yes in the referendum.’

“So Alex Rowley may be the victor tonight, but I believe the whole of Scotland will celebrate a yes victory in September.”

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