Scottish Election 2021: Michelle Thomson pledge to ‘hit the ground running’ in Falkirk

The SNP's Michelle Thomson has pledged to be an MSP who will work hard to represent everyone in Falkirk East - whether they voted for her or not.

As the count was declared, Mrs Thomson was clearly emotional as she thanked her family, activists and her voters for all their support during the campaign.

She said: "We don't yet know the make-up of our new parliament, but if Falkirk East tells us anything, it tells us that Scotland speaks clearly.

"Our people speak of society, of caring of valuing public service - we shunned Margaret Thatcher and we shun Boris Johnson and those who see only how politics can work for them rather than them working for people.

Michelle Thomson wins Falkirk East ( Picture Michael Gillen)

"The parties who put the Westminster system first have been rejected by the voters of Falkirk East and I believe this will be repeated across many constituencies."

From Monday, she will take over from the SNP's Angus MacDonald, who had represented the SNP since 2011.

Speaking after the result was announced, Ms Thomson said she intends to "hit the ground running" and have her office and staff up and running as soon as possible.

While meeting people in person was difficult for all candidates, Ms Thomson said they had tried to be creative in order to reach as many people as possible.

She said that throughout the campaign she had been speaking about the need for Scotland to "forge ahead as an independent country".

Returning officer Kenneth Lawrie announced the result, with 18,417 votes cast for Ms Thomson and Labour's Allyson Black in second place with 10,832.

While Ms Thomson comfortably held the seat, there was a three per cent swing from the SNP.

Ms Black, who is a Labour councillor in Grangemouth, said that the election result meant that her party had laid some "good foundations" and she thanked the voters who had put their trust in her.

Neil Benny took 7,618 votes for the Conservative and Unionist Party while Paul Rolfe took 1,007 for the Liberal Democrats.

Independent candidate Peter Krykant got 971 votes.

After a campaign like no other - it was also a count like no other, with masks, screens and sanitiser all evident.

Social distancing measures mean that fewer staff are able to do the counting and it will be done over two days, rather than the traditional overnight.

The hall - normally packed and noisy, with observers from across the political spectrum - was strangely quiet, with the steady sound of ballot papers being counted.

Transparent screens separated those counting from the observers.

The counting has now started on the regional list vote, but this will be added to the Central Scotland total which will be announced in North Lanarkshire tomorrow (Saturday).

Falkirk West's votes will also be counted tomorrow (Saturday), with the result expected mid-afternoon.

There has been a sharp increase in the turnout for this election - with 62.89 per cent of voters taking part.

This is well up on the last Holyrood election in 2016 which saw a turnout of 54.1 per cent.

In total 38,960 votes were cast from a total electorate of 61,948, with 115 of the ballot papers being being rejected.