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The BBC's Norman Smith
"The lowest turnout of any in Scotland since the war"
 real 56k

Scottish Secretary John Reid
"We had little choice about when we held the by-election"
 real 28k

SNP leader John Swinney
"This was a stunning result for the SNP"
 real 28k

Friday, 22 December, 2000, 08:33 GMT
Labour wins in Falkirk West
Eric Joyce
Eric Joyce is congratulated by his wife Rosemary
Labour's Eric Joyce has won the by-election for the Westminster seat of Falkirk West, but with a hugely reduced majority.

The Scottish National Party candidate David Kerr was second and secured a swing of 16% in favour of the nationalists, with the Conservative candidate Craig Stevenson in third place.

The Scottish Socialist Party candidate Iain Hunter beat the Liberal Democats' Hugh O'Donnell into fifth place.

The turnout of 19,504 - about 36% of the electorate - was the lowest in a Scottish poll since the war. The previous low was recorded in the Glasgow Anniesland by-elections last month.

Falkirk West
Lab: 8,492 (43.54%)
SNP: 7,787 (39.93%)
Tory: 1,621 (8.31%)
SSP: 989 (5.07%)
Lib Dems: 615 (3.15%)
Former army major Mr Joyce secured the seat left vacant by Dennis Canavan with a much reduced majority on the 1997 general election result. The majority on that occasion was 13,783.

Mr Joyce gained 8,492 votes, his nearest rival, Mr Kerr, polled 7,787 votes and Mr Stevenson secured 1,621.

The socialists' Iain Hunter, meanwhile, polled 989 votes and Mr O'Donnell's total was 615. He lost his deposit.

The by-election was caused by the resignation of former Labour MP Dennis Canavan who soundly defeated the party's candidate in last year's Scottish Parliament elections when he stood as an independent.

David Kerr
David Kerr secured a 16% swing to the SNP
He decided last month to vacate his Westminster seat.

Party activists in Falkirk faced a hard struggle to pull out supporters whose thoughts appeared to be more focused on Christmas and Hogmanay.

Mr Joyce said after the count that the result had proved those who believed that Labour would be beaten were wrong.

He said: "We have disappointed them - those pundits and pollsters who thought that this would be a disastrous by-election.

"The nationalists have been judged irrelevant in Falkirk West.

'Social justice'

"They have been cast aside by the people of Falkirk in favour of making this country better."

However, Mr Kerr said the result showed the SNP was making progress on the road to independence.

He said: "This country needs social justice and that can only be achieved through independence.

"The key message is that the SNP support is up and New Labour's is down."

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See also:

22 Dec 00 | Scotland
Reid hails Falkirk win
22 Dec 00 | Scotland
Bad news for Blair and Hague
21 Nov 00 | Scotland
'Blair blocked me' - Canavan
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