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Friday, 7 May, 1999, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
The elections in quotes
Vote 99 Special Coverage
Politicians have given their verdict on elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and local councils around Britain.

Prime Minister Tony Blair: "I believe and I hope that out of the elections, the union of the United Kingdom will have been strengthened rather than weakened,"

Labour's leader in Scotland Donald Dewar hailed the historic election:

"We are starting to see the emerging picture of the new Scotland."

"The first six words of the Scotland Act read simply: 'There shall be a Scottish Parliament'. With those six simple words Scottish politics are forever changed.

"Let all of us in Scotland begin this morning, after a time for rest and perhaps a time for calculation, and maybe even a time for counting, let us start building the new Scotland - remembering on all sides that civility is not a sign of weakness"

Paddy Ashdown: Welcoming Sheffield into the Lib Dem fold
Liberal Democrat Leader Paddy Ashdown: "This is great news for the Liberal Democrats. After gaining Liverpool last year Sheffield is now the second great British city we control."

"I would say it's satisfaction sprinkled with triumph."

On being elected an MSP, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond told his constituents: "We are at the dawn of a new era for Scotland.

"Nothing will ever be the same again in Scottish politics. The Scottish Parliament will now be the centre of political debate in our nation.

Labour campaigns co-ordinator Margaret Beckett said the projected vote share put Labour slightly ahead of the Conservatives:

"If that is the outcome at the end of tonight, then it will be the first time this century that any government has actually been ahead of the opposition in mid-term elections. I am almost frightened to mention it, because it would be such an incredible outcome."

"We are seeing a step change in Scottish politics. First a step change for the SNP, second and perhaps more important a step change for Scotland."

Conservative leader William Hague was pleased with his party's performance in the Scottish and local elections.

"It's been a long time since we have seen so many smiling faces in [Conservative] Central Office,"

And Conservative Party Chairman Michael Ancram was also equally optimistic.

"We are making progress, we beat the Labour leader of Sunderland council, which is rather a remarkable achievement.

Scottish Labour campaign strategist Douglas Alexander, MP for Paisley South, commented on the exit polls saying: "If these figures are anything to go by it suggests the Scottish people have rejected separatism."

The first member of the new Scottish Parliament to be elected, Labour's Tom McCabe, marked the occasion by echoing former Labour leader John Smith's words:

"This parliament is the settled will of the Scottish people and I think we all have an obligation to make it work."

Dennis Canavan: The people's choice
Dennis Canavan who has become the first independent to be elected to the Scottish Parliament, after being expelled from the Labour Party, said: "At the end of the day I felt I had no option but to let the people decide.

"The brilliance of my victory is tinged a wee bit with sorrow - sorrow in that I am not standing before you as a member of a party in which I was virtually born and brought up."

Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan, speaking after his election on a top-up list:

"Scotland's fifth party has now been born and the Scottish Socialist Party is here to stay.

"They are people with a vision in their hearts of a new Scotland."

Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie: When we look back to where we started this campaign we were on 10% in the opinion polls, we are now going to do a lot better. Maybe another couple of weeks would have made the difference.

"But I take heart from the fact tonight we have seen a major step forward for the Scottish Conservative Party. We are back."

Jean Lambert, principal speaker for the Green Party, who won 21 seats in the council poll, giving them a total of 39 councillors across the country:

"This is clearly a very strong showing for the Greens, which has exceeded our expectations. We have won seats in areas from Northumberland and Lancaster to Taunton and Brighton by running strong campaigns on a full range of social and environmental issues.

"We have given Labour a bloody nose and the results bode well for the Europeans election next month."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Jim Wallace was careful not to be drawn too far on the subject of coalition demands after his election in Orkney:

"I think it will be very obvious what will be on the table because we have just fought an election on the manifesto. We will want to negotiate items in our manifesto.

"I have taken the view that first and foremost we should negotiate the terms of a partnership programme for government and then deal with ministries and personalities."

Deputy Labour leader John Prescott said:

"Overall, with the devolution in Scotland, and indeed the council results, it was a good result for Labour last night, particularly with the low turnout, but that's the politics of contentment."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Alex Salmond: "We've fought a national election and a national campaign"
Video
Peter Snow reports on the turnout of voters across the country
Audio
Donald Dewer: "I look forward to the task ahead"
Audio
Paddy Ashdown: "It's a happy night for us"
Audio
John Prescott: "It's the best ever result any government has had, midterm"
See also:

06 May 99 | News
06 May 99 | News
07 May 99 | UK Politics

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