Alarm bells ringing at rise of Falkirk’s UKIP vote

Falkirk residents went to the polls last week
Falkirk residents went to the polls last week

Right-wing party UKIP had one of its best results in Falkirk in last week’s Euro Elections.

Over 4300 Bairns voted for the UK Independence Party, giving it 12.7 per cent of the Falkirk vote, its third largest in the country.

The party’s share of the town’s vote was beaten only in Moray with 13.6 per cent and Dumfries and Galloway with 13.4 per cent.

The UKIP’s increase in popularity across the country led to the party winning its first Scottish seat in the European Parliament.

Overall, the local vote was won by the SNP with 11,542 votes, followed closely by Labour with 10,343 votes.

Falkirk East SNP MSP Angus MacDonald said: “This was a fantastic victory for Falkirk district SNP and a vote of confidence in the Scottish Government.

“Over seven years into an SNP Government, and we have won the popular vote yet again in a national election, as once again voters in Falkirk district place their trust in the SNP.

“In topping the poll in Scotland, the SNP have also won a higher share of the vote than UKIP across the UK or in England, and higher than Labour in Wales - where these parties topped the polls.

“The SNP came first in Falkirk district, one of 16 of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas where the SNP came first, compared to 10 for Labour, four for the Tories, two for the Lib Dems and none for UKIP.

“There is a world of difference between the results in Scotland and in the rest of the UK.”

Falkirk East MP Michael Connarty said: “The detail of the Falkirk East votes would give a clearer picture, but with Labour up 6.5 per cent and SNP down 2.8 per cent overall, there has clearly been a swing to Labour from SNP.

“The more worrying figure is the level of support for UKIP.

“Part of that may be the transfer of hard-right votes from the BNP who polled 3.77 per cent in 2009 and fell to a few hundred in 2014, but it is still a clear signal that the electorate are angry and not satisfied with the three main parties - Conservative, Labour and SNP.”

Local voter turnout in this year’s Euro Election also rose.

Only 44 ballot papers were rejected, with 17 voters voting for more than one party.

Mary Pitcaithly, local returning officer for Falkirk and Regional Returning Officer for Scotland, said: “The turnout for the Falkirk area rose by around five per cent on the last European election with a figure of 29.7 per cent.

“It is encouraging to see more people voting and we hope that this trend can continue.”

Following the vote, six Scottish MEPs have now been elected to the European Parliament.

The SNP’s Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith were re-elected MSPs as were Labour’s David Martin and Catherine Stihler.

Representing the Conservatives is Ian Duncan while David Coburn will take the chair for UKIP.

After the result, Mr Coburn told one newspaper: “I will do my best to make sure I highlight the problems of the European Union. When I’m in Brussels I will do my best to make sure Scottish business and Scottish people know the daft schemes they’re cooking up there to make our lives infinitely more awkward.

“My second mission will be to make myself redundant. I want to get out of the European Union at the first available opportunity, and that I will do.”