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Political correspondent Elizabeth Quigley
"Labour contained the SNP threat"
 real 56k

Chief political correspondent John Morrison
"Labour is expected to hold an early by-election in Falkirk West"
 real 28k

First Minister Henry McLeish
"The SNP has taken a bit of a drubbing"
 real 28k

SNP leader John Swinney
"This was a tough contest"
 real 28k

Friday, 24 November, 2000, 19:01 GMT
Labour hails Anniesland win
John Robertson, Bill Butler
Victory salutes from John Robertson and Bill Butler
Labour is celebrating its double victory in the two by-elections caused by the death of Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar.

The late Labour leader's successor, Henry McLeish, described the result as a "drubbing" for the Scottish National Party.

But SNP leader John Swinney claimed that his party had made progress.

Labour's Bill Butler secured the Scottish Parliament seat and John Robertson won the Westminster seat for the party - both with reduced majorities over the second-placed SNP.


The results are a disaster for the nationalists, who used to thrive on by-elections and grievance

Brian Wilson, Scotland Office minister
Mr McLeish said the result showed people liked and related to the party's policies, saying: "All in all a great night for Labour.

"However, I am not complacent because we are building up to a major general election next year.

"We have to make sure that we continue to use this as part of the journey, but not the point where we can say that everything in Labour's garden is rosy."

Scotland Office minister Brian Wilson said: "These splendid results show strong support for the Labour Government.

Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson: "Splendid results"
"The results are a disaster for the nationalists, who used to thrive on by-elections and grievance.

"Now they have failed nine times in a row to take a Labour seat in a by-election in Scotland."

Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid said: "These are really excellent results for Labour. William Hague is the big loser this morning."

Election expert Professor John Curtis, from Strathclyde University, agreed it was an encouraging result for Labour.

Labour 'reconnecting'

"Although the share of the vote is down, it is down far less than it has been in other recent contests, such as Ayr and and Hamilton South. It suggests Labour is beginning to reconnect with its core voters," he said.

He said the result was one of the most disappointing for the SNP in its by-election history.

However, Mr Swinney said the party was now starting from a stronger base vote.

John Swinney
John Swinney: "SNP progress"
"What we have done in this by-election is deliver a swing of about six or seven per cent to the SNP.

"On the strength of these results we would gain about 13 seats in the Scottish Parliament and three seats in Westminster," he said.

"These were by-elections nobody wanted to take place.

"It was going to be a tough contest and the SNP has made progress."

He added that nearly half the people who voted for Labour in 1997 and 1999 had failed to materialise this time, which was "no ringing endorsement of the Labour Party".

'New kids on the block'

Among the happiest politicians on the night was Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan, whose candidate in the Holyrood election beat the Lib Dems into fifth place.

Mr Sheridan, who became an MSP in May 19999, declared: "We're the new kids on the block. We're here to stay."

The Scottish Tories' Phil Gallie admitted there was a "Donald Dewar factor" on the doorsteps which created a loyalty to Labour.

"We are disappointed that we haven't increased our own vote, but we have held it steady," he said.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats' local government spokesman Donald Gorrie said apathy had won, which should worry all the parties.

"We held our ground well in terms of percentage," he said.

"It is obviously the sort of territory where the Scottish Socialists could do well, and we did well to defeat them in one contest and lose fractionally in the other."

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See also:

24 Nov 00 | Scotland
Labour holds Dewar seats
24 Nov 00 | Talking Politics
By-election results in full
23 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Low turnout fears in triple by-election
24 Nov 00 | Scotland
Parties eye Falkirk battle
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