New East Falkirk MP settling in at Westminster

Martyn Day makes his victory speech while a defeated Michael Connarty looks on behind. Picture: Neil Hanna
Martyn Day makes his victory speech while a defeated Michael Connarty looks on behind. Picture: Neil Hanna

A new day is dawning on Falkirk district after Thursday’s election as both seats, previously Labour strongholds, were grabbed by the SNP.

In Linlithgow and East Falkirk councillor Martyn Day overcame the previous MP Michael Connarty on a momentous General Election night where 70.9 per cent of those eligible to vote in the constituency did – and did so emphatically.

The West Lothian councillor turned around Mr Connarty’s 12,553 majority in the 2010 election to win by 32,055 votes to 19,121. It was a swing of 25,487 (26.6 per cent) votes in favour of Mr Day and the SNP from the long-serving Labour MP who had held this seat in its various forms for 23 years.

No mean feat, especially as his election agent, Calum Timms, was the youngest in the country.

At the election count in Bathgate’s Excite sports centre the Labour camp looked defeated long before the official announcement by Returning Officer Graham Hope at just after 3 a.m. on Friday.

However, despite what was happening across the country in the early hours of Friday, Day’s victory did cause a few shockwaves, especially on the West Lothian side of the constituency.

Sources say he did not fare well during election hustings before the big day, while people also used to quip that if you stuck a Labour rosette on a monkey people would vote for it, such was the stranglehold the party had in that district.

That changed dramatically last week though and 44-year-old Day, a former bank worker who has been a Linlithgow councillor for 16 years, will now be the new man representing East Falkirk at Westminster.

Speaking on Monday as he toured the “labyrinth-like” Houses of Parliament in London with fellow SNP Westminster rookie John McNally, new MP for Falkirk, he said: “It’s still sinking in at the moment and my body clock is out of sorts, but it feels great to be elected and I’m really looking forward to the challenge of representing the constituency.

“I joined the SNP with money from my first pay packet and at that time you didn’t join them for a political career because we were only at 11 per cent in the polls. I believed in independence so much that I just had to take some action.

“I think my likely timetable for working down here will be from Monday to Thursdays with the rest of my work done in the constituency but I still have a lot of things to sort out. I’ll be living in temporary accommodation for a while and I need to organise staff as well, but there is a buzz down here.

“You can tell all the SNP MPs because we’re all walking around with smiles on our faces.”

Day confirmed he will now step down as a councillor as soon as it is convenient for him to do it to focus solely on his parliamentary role.

He added: “There is a period of dual mandate, I don’t know how long for, but I don’t think it is credible for me to do the two jobs.

“There are 16 or 17 of us in this position so we may have to get some guidance from the party on this, but it is not a crisis situation or anything like that. In the meantime, the salary I will get for my council role I will give to a fund for local groups. It won’t be a huge amount but it’s the best I can do in the circumstances.”

Day, who lives in Linlithgow, has close family connections to the constituency as dad Ronald was from Grangemouth while mum Margaret’s family came from Bo’ness.