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Nailbiter in race for Banffshire and Buchan Coast while SNP romp home in Moray

By David Porter

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IT was a tale of two constituencies for Buckie as the SNP squeaked through in Banffshire and Buchan Coast and romped home in Moray.

There was a nail-biting finish in the former constituency, with SNP candidate trying to retain the seat for the party following the retirement of the sitting MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Her campaign was ultimately to prove successful, although she was run very close by the Conservative candidate Mark Findlater, who whittled down the SNP majority from 6583 to 772.

Speaking after the results were announced, Ms Adam said: "This year has been exceptionally difficult in many ways, the campaign has been like no other and challenged us to be pragmatic and come up with alternative ways to get our message out to voters.

"I, of course, have to thank my family for their support and my opponents for a respectable campaign in challenging times.

"My first priority is to help guide the constituency safely through this pandemic and I know that if Nicola Sturgeon is re-elected First Minister it will be her first priority too.

"We will get to work immediately to support our health and social care services who are still on the front line and we need to continue to support our businesses and industry in Banff and Buchan coast who have suffered in this down turn in particular our fishing sector.

"I am elated with this win and I am so grateful to the people of Banffshire and Buchan for putting their trust in me to be their representative MSP.

"I really do feel that this is a seat that perhaps the Tories should have been able to walk in terms of their Brexit deal but this shows that that has been absolutely rejected.

"They did not win this seat and their deal is an absolute failure and the people are calling out to the SNP for responsible leadership through this pandemic and of course to have their choice on whether to have an independent Scotland."

On the lower majority she said: "I was not particularly surprised at the margin, I am a new candidate and it has been really difficult throughout the pandemic.

"Normally our strength is getting out there, chapping doors and getting to know people and getting the word out so we have been relying on social media and such like so I think we had done well.

"There are lot of things it could be attributed to, if Brexit had been a fantastic deal the Tories would have walked this are but they have not."

She also took the opportunity to sign a thanks to her father who is deaf: "I feel that the deaf are often left behind, it is a world that is very much set up for hearing people from as a young girl I have grown up being an advocate for my dad and for those with additional support needs.

"He has been a supporter since the late 60s.

"I signed to thank him for the importance of support he has given me and also for the support to others as no one should be left behind."

On the future she added: "Talking to people we will be focusing on recovery from the pandemic first and on my council role I am talking to the people I need to see what the situation is."

Mr Findlater thanked those voters who "put their trust" in him.

"I'd like to thank all 14,148 voters who put their trust in me to represent them," he commented.

"Regardless of the outcome, Banffshire and Buchan Coast was a massive result for the Scottish Conservatives.

"The SNP majority was slashed and our north-east party vote outstripped the nationalists right across Aberdeenshire.

"From that, it's clear people here want their real priorities addressed.

"Those are a recovery from the pandemic for health, education and the economy, not another divisive referendum.

"I am going nowhere and will continue to press the Scottish Government for a fair share of resources from the central belt.

"It will be the SNP's responsibility to show they aren't false friends to the north east, as they have proven over the last 14 years."

The full results for Banffshire and Buchan Coast were: Karen Adam (SNP) 14,920; Mark Findlater (Conservative) 14,148; Georgia Strachan (Labour) 2169; Alison Simpson (Liberal Democrat) 1071; Jason Duncan (Freedom Alliance) 347; David McHutchon (Restore Scotland) 331.

In the north east regional list vote, of which Banffshire and Buchan Coast is part, four Conservative MSPs were returned, along with two Labour and a Green.

Meanwhile, in Moray, Richard Lochhead was defending the seat for the SNP, although he was unable to make the count in person. He was voluntarily self-isolating while a member of his family awaited the results of a Covid test.

Mr Lochhead was ultimately to see off the challenge of Buckie Tory councillor Tim Eagle, increasing his majority to 3164 from 2875 in 2016.

Mr Lochhead said he was "humbled" and "over the moon" to be re-elected as Moray's MSP, going on to describe increasing his majority as "astounding".

"I'm absolutely over the moon and humbled that we had almost 20,000 votes in this election – which is our highest ever for a Holyrood election," he continued.

"We are pleasantly surprised and delighted to increase our majority. To achieve a higher number of votes as well is quite an astounding result.

"I want to express my sincere gratitude for everyone who came out for the SNP and myself but I will do my best to represent all voters in Moray over the next five years.

"I also want to express a heartfelt thanks to Moray's young people – I found it quite moving to see so many young people queuing to cast their vote and we owe it to them to make sure we support them going forward."

While not present at the Moray vote count Mr Lochhead said the tension was nevertheless high as he kept up-to-date with proceedings from home.

He added: "I found it as nerve-racking as ever being at home, relying on texts from my team at the count.

"You couldn't make up the timing but I felt voluntary self-isolation was the right thing to do as we waited for the result of a Covid-19 test.

"Many families and businesses across Moray have been impacted and this was my turn. It was a very unusual experience."

Moray constituency results were: Richard Lochhead (SNP) 19,987; Tim Eagle (Conservative) 16,823; Jo Kirby (Labour) 2972; Sheila Ritchie (Liberal Democrat) 1165; Robert Stephenson (UK Independence Party) 188.

The Highland regional list vote, which includes Moray, saw the Tories pick up four of the seven seats – a gain of one at the expense of Labour – with the SNP, Labour and the Greens picking up one apiece.

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