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EDITIONS
News Monday, 14 June, 1999, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Labour top in Scotland
Edinburgh declaration
The declaration is made in Edinburgh
Labour has remained the party with the most MEPs from Scotland but its share of the vote has plunged.

The party won three of Scotland's eight seats with the Scottish National Party close behind on two.

The Scottish Conservatives won two seats, giving them European representation for the first time in a decade.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats won one seat.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said: "The gap between Labour and the SNP is the narrowest in Scottish political history - just 1.5%, representing fewer than 15,000 votes or just 200 votes per constituency."

Labour 'achieved target'

Labour had six seats before the election but David Martin, who was one of the party's successful candidates, said: "In terms of seats, we got exactly what we set out to achieve.

"We started out with six but if you take the same figures for 1994 and extrapolate for seats under the new system we would have ended up with three seats so we haven't changed."

But he admitted: "We didn't give the voters enough reason to vote for us. We need to reassess the message.

"We had a campaign that was organised from Millbank rather than dispersed to the regions.

"We need to look at whether that was sophisticated enough to localise the message."

BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor said the 24.3% turnout was confirmation that voters would not turn out where there were no evident reasons for them to do so.

The results, where parties who campaigned against Europe attracted a lot of support, also showed a high degree of scepticism about Europe.

Scotland's eight successful candidates had to wait until Monday lunchtime for the declarations as seats in the north did not count on Sunday because of the Sabbath.

The eight are: Labour - David Martin; Bill Miller; Catherine Taylor.

Scottish National Party - Ian Hudghton, Neil MacCormick.

Scottish Conservatives - Struan Stevenson, John Purvis.

Scottish Liberal Democrats - Elspeth Atwooll.

Vote share

  • Labour polled 28.6% of the votes - down by more than 13.9% on the last European election in 1994

  • The SNP took 27.1%, down by 5.8%

  • The Scottish Tories won 19.7%, up by 5.2%

  • The Scottish Liberal Democrats had 9.8%, up 2.6%

  • The Scottish Greens were on 5.8%, up more than 4%.

The Scottish Socialist Party, which scored a victory at the Scottish Parliament elections by returning one MSP through proportional representation, was unable to continue its success.

Strathclyde University politics lecturer Malcolm Dickson said few people in the UK actually understand the role of Europe, hence the low turnout.

"I think there is a general lack of voter concern about European issues because of the lack of knowledge about what the European institutions actually do," he said.

The Lib Dems were soundly beaten in some of their Borders strongholds and lost seats they won last month, such as Argyll and Bute and Edinburgh West.

Analysts say their poor showing may be down to anger over the coalition deal with Labour in the Scottish Parliament, especially over the issue of tuition fees.

Tories 'major players'

The resurgence of the Scottish Tories saw them come top of the poll in many seats, including Edinburgh Pentlands and Eastwood which they failed to capture on 6 May.

Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie said: "This shows we are now major players in Scottish politics again.

"It's a great result which confirms that the Conservative revival is under way and we are building on what we achieved in the Scottish Parliament election.

"The result was a blow for the nationalists. They didn't achieve their target of three seats."

Elizabeth Attwooll said: "I have to say that now it is the case that liberal democracy is represented at all stages of politics in Scotland."

Labour said no conclusions could be drawn because of the low turnout.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Brian Taylor talks to four of Scotland's MEPs
Audio
Malcolm Dickson: Lack of knowledge about Europe
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