Page last updated at 09:30 GMT, Sunday, 31 May 2009 10:30 UK

Susan Boyle is still 'a winner'

Supporters of Susan Boyle
Supporters of Susan Boyle were out in force in her home town of Blackburn

Susan Boyle is still a "winner" despite coming second in the final of Britain's Got Talent, according to Scotland's first minister.

The West Lothian singer was beaten in the public vote by Diversity, a street dance group from Essex.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "In my eyes and in Scotland's eyes she's a winner."

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said he had voted for her and described her as "a brave and brilliant talent".

Susan Boyle became an international singing sensation after first performing "I Dreamed A Dream" in the contest, a song she reprised for the final.

Her performances have attracted millions of hits on video sharing websites and led to an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show.

We've got elements of a press who like nothing better than to build people up and then drag them down
Alex Salmond

But despite being odds-on favourite to win the ITV1 talent contest, the church volunteer from Blackburn missed out on the £100,000 prize and a chance to perform before the Queen at the Royal Variety Show.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, Mr Salmond said: "I think her performance was a triumph.

"I think the composure with which she delivered the song was fabulous and I think the gracious way she accepted defeat was also fabulous

"So in my eyes, in Scotland's eyes, she's a winner. I suspect there's a big career beckoning for Susan isn't there?"

Mr Salmond also commented on the negative headlines that appeared in tabloid newspapers in the run-up to the final.

"We've got elements of a press who like nothing better than to build people up and then drag them down," he said.

"It's pretty sad actually. It's almost a psychosis. I would love Susan to win, to triumph over that sort of nastiness."

'Favourite underdog'

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said: "Susan is a brave and brilliant talent. She bounced back and has shown that she is a real star.

"She has proven all the cynics and critics wrong. Susan has gone from our favourite underdog to a world phenomenon in just seven special weeks."

Bookmakers William Hill described her defeat as the "biggest upset in TV history" but said it had spared the betting industry about £5m in payouts.

Her supporters feel bad publicity may have cost Susan the win.

Jim Dixon, the deputy provost of West Lothian Council, said: "I think probably the unfortunate thing was she got a bad press in London.

"We were disappointed in that, but Susan will come back again. She's a real winner."

Her former voice coach, Fred O'Neil, said she had been under enormous pressure.

He said: "The one mistake I would say was probably continuing to live in her home town during all of this.

"If it had been me, I would have gone away somewhere into the wilderness and hidden from all this press because around her house and in her street it was just a circus for a month really."

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