Tories expecting to lose Edinburgh Central to SNP’s Angus Robertson

·3 min read

The Scottish Conservatives expect to lose their Edinburgh Central seat to the SNP after record numbers of voters turned out to vote in the Scottish capital.

Scottish Labour’s Daniel Johnson has also said he is confident of retaining his Edinburgh Southern seat, while in Edinburgh Western fellow incumbent – Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton – also expects to be returned to Holyrood.

Turnout in three of Edinburgh’s Holyrood constituencies – Central, Southern and Western – were all higher than at any other Scottish Parliament election.

With voting still under way, the Scottish Tories were downbeat about their chances of holding Edinburgh Central, the seat won in 2016 by former leader Ruth Davidson.

The seat was contested by the SNP’s former deputy leader Angus Robertson, who was the party’s former leader at Westminster before losing his Moray seat at the 2017 general election.

Speaking shortly before 4pm at the count in the Highland Hall, Scottish Conservative candidate Scott Douglas told the PA news agency: “It does look like it’s leaning Angus’s way.”

He said: “Numbers are looking more in favour of Angus Robertson at the moment, but we want to wait and see what the final results are – you don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

“But yeah, that’s what it’s looking like at the moment.”

Mr Douglas added: “Some of the box results for the SNP were very strong, we weren’t as strong in some areas as we were hoping to be, but again, we’re not quite sure as we’ve not seen all the results come in yet.”

Scottish Parliamentary Elections 2021
Scottish Conservative candidate for Edinburgh Central Scott Douglas, right, said the numbers were favouring the SNP (Tom Eden/PA)

However, he suggested the indications were that the Scottish Conservatives had managed a “really strong” performance on the regional list ballot across Edinburgh, although results will not be announced until Sunday evening.

He continued: “People listened to our message, the peach ballot paper is how we get so many Scottish Conservative MSPs elected and that result looks really strong.

“So I must say, it’s really encouraging on that front.

“Hopefully we’ll get another strong team of Scottish Conservative MSPs elected and we can – again – be the main opposition party.”

In the marginal constituency of Edinburgh Southern, won by Scottish Labour’s Daniel Johnson from the SNP at the 2016 election, Mr Johnson said he was “increasingly optimistic” of holding the seat.

He told PA that winning on a record-high turnout would be “an emphatic message from the people of Edinburgh Southern”, and said: “That would be a huge vote of confidence in both my local record but also the message that Scottish Labour has been trying to take to the electorate at this election that we have to focus on what unites us and focus on recovery.”

Shortly after vote counting began, Catriona MacDonald, the SNP candidate for Edinburgh Southern, welcomed the high turnout of postal votes, and said: “In our strongest areas, people were really, really engaged and really keen to go out and vote, even despite the weather.

“We had people queuing outside the polling place in hail and rain, but I went round to pretty much every polling place and it was really positive.

“There have been a lot more postal votes than usual – it’s about 13,000 postal votes in our constituency.

“Given the very unusual circumstances of the election, it’s probably not surprising, but it’s a really positive thing so no-one misses out.”

Turnout for the constituency vote in Edinburgh Southern was 45,466 (71.11%), Central was 41,833 (62.69%) and it was 46,901 (71.46%) in Western, the council announced.

These were increases of 8,307 voters, 7,664 and 7,135 respectively from the 2016 Holyrood election turnouts.

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