SNP's Richard Lochhead "humbled" and "over the moon" to be re-elected Moray MSP
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RICHARD Lochhead has said he is "humbled" and "over the moon" to be re-elected as Moray's MSP.
The SNP candidate – who has been Moray's MSP since 2006 – increased his vote share and majority in the Scottish Parliamentary Election, a result which he described as "astounding".
The number of votes for the SNP and Mr Lochhead increased from 15,742 to 19,987, which represents a 1.5 per cent increase in vote share, while his majority over the Conservatives was extended from 2875 to 3164.
He said: "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.
"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."
Mr Lochhead couldn't be present at the Moray vote count due to self-isolating – and said the tension was 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."
Conservative candidate Tim Eagle finished second, with the Tories also increasing their vote share by 2.5 per cent, turning 12,867 votes into 16,823.
Mr Eagle said: "I'm disappointed not to win. We tried to run a good campaign based on local issues.
"But this is our biggest ever vote share in Moray, which is great, and we are several thousand up from last time.
"That shows we have been out there and engaged with voters.
"What will be interesting is tomorrow, when we found out what the regional outcome is.
"If we got four list MSPs in the Highlands and Islands, that would be a fantastic achievement, but if we keep three that would be good as well."
Labour and Jo Kirby finished in third place, with 2972 votes, down from 3547 in 2016. This represents a 3.4 per cent loss in vote share for Labour.
Liberal Democrat Sheila Ritchie lost a one per cent vote share – moving down from 1265 to 1165 – while UKIP's Robert Stephenson got 188 votes.
Counting of the peach 'regional list' ballots had just begun at Moray Sports Centre when the day was brought to a halt at 7.30pm.
Tomorrow will see the announcement of the regional list vote in Moray. Depending on other constituencies across the Highlands and Islands, the full regional list could be announced tomorrow as well.