[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 28 April 2006, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
SNP's joy at by-election victory
Richard Lochead celebrating
The SNP's Richard Lochhead 12,653 votes in the contest
The SNP has hailed its triumph in the Moray by-election as a springboard to success in next year's Holyrood elections.

The party held the Moray seat in the Scottish Parliament with a comfortable victory for candidate Richard Lochhead.

Mr Lochhead described his 12,653 votes - increasing the party's majority by 1,200 - as "tremendous".

Tory candidate Mary Scanlon came second with 6,268 votes, with Liberal Democrat Linda Gorn third with 5,310 votes.

Labour's Sandy Keith came fourth with 2,696 votes, while Melville Brown, of NHSFirst, came fifth with 493 votes.

The contest came about after the death of popular SNP stalwart Margaret Ewing, who had a majority of 5,312 over the Conservatives at the last Holyrood elections in 2003.

The people of Moray have spoken loud and clear and they want change in the government
Richard Lochhead
SNP

The Tories held on to second place from the previous contest with the Lib Dems moving up into third.

The biggest loser on the night was the Labour Party, which slipped down to fourth.

Following his victory, Mr Lochhead said: "This is a stunning result for the SNP. We've increased our vote and our share of the vote which is totally unprecedented.

"It's the perfect springboard for next year's Scottish Parliament elections campaign.

"The people of Moray have spoken loud and clear and they want change in the government and want to move forward towards independence. This is a very, very strong result for the SNP."

SNP leader Alex Salmond described the result as a "a seismic result in Scottish politics".

HOW MORAY VOTED
SNP - Richard Lochhead 12,653
Tory - Mary Scanlon 6,268
Lib Dems - Linda Gorn 5,310
Labour - Sandy Keith 2,696
NHSFirst - Melville Brown 493

Defeat for Mary Scanlon has forced her to leave frontline politics as she gave up an existing list seat to fight for Moray.

Moray count

But she has vowed to return to Holyrood.

"Conservatives have returned their solid base in the Moray constituency. I am proud to say I have fought a positive campaign," she said.

"I focused on issues that are important to the people of Moray and it has been an honour and a privilege to serve as an MSP for Moray and the Highlands and Islands for the last seven years."

'Strong result'

Lib Dem Linda Gorn also warned Mr Lochhead that she intended standing against him at the next Holyrood elections to be held in May 2007.

Nicol Stephen, Scottish Lib Dem leader, said the by-election was a "very strong result" for his party.

He added: "Our share of the vote went up by more than 7% - well ahead of any of the other parties."

Labour's Sandy Keith said: "I tried to focus on the issues that affect the people of Moray and I hope that focusing on these issues is something that will prevail in the future."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch some post-result analysis



SEE ALSO:
Lochhead tops Moray league
28 Apr 06 |  Scotland
List of by-election candidates
10 Apr 06 |  Scotland


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific