SNP romps to massive by-election victory

Barber cuts rival candidates down to size

THE SNP secured a 24 per cent swing to romp home in last Thursday's Herbertshire by-election with a massive 487 majority.

The seat became vacant after the death of veteran Labour councillor Tom Martin but the party's candidate, Jennifer Steel, polled just 532 votes while Nationalist rival John McNally secured 1019.

Mr McNally said: "I am humbled by the overwhelming support we received from the people of the Herbertshire ward and I would thank them for that vote of confidence.

''It was clear that the ambition shown by the SNP and Independent admin-istration in areas such as the provision of a new Denny High School and the regeneration of our town centre after 20 years of neglect hit a note with the electorate.

''It is now my goal to justify that trust by being a hard-working and conscientious councillor for the people and an active member of the political administration within the council."

Falkirk Council leader David Alexander offered his congratulations to Mr McNally. He said: "John has been a community activist of some standing in the Denny and Dunipace area for many years and will be a credit to the people of this area as a councillor."

The SNP win, coupled with another by-election victory in Grangemouth last year, has taken the party from the nine seats it secured at the last local government election to 11.

With Labour having fallen to from 14 to 12 following the latest loss and the defection of Councillor Willie Anderson, its proud position as the biggest single party in Falkirk is now somewhat precarious.

Mr Alexander launched a scathing attack on Labour's campaign tactics. He said: "I think Labour is a party in decline.

''This has happened over a period of time and not just in Falkirk, but that is their problem. They fought a very negative, personalised campaign, which insulted the intelligence of the people of Herbertshire, and they were rightly punished for that. They got what they deserved, and the positive campaign fought by the SNP got what it deserved."

Falkirk Labour leader Linda Gow revealed that the party will be holding discussions about the defeat, and she congratulated Mr McNally on his win. She said: "It was an excellent majority for SNP and John is an excellent candidate.

''Obviously, we are disappointed but I congratulate him."

The other candidates in the by-election – Malcolm McDonald of the Conservatives and Danny Quinlan of the Scottish Socialists – polled 46 and 29 votes respectively.

laura.coulter@falkirkherald.co.uk