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Regional egional success for Conservatives; Mundell and Carson secure win for a second time.

Byline: JACKIE GRANT AND STEPHEN NORRIS

Conservative candidates enjoyed double election success in Dumfries and Galloway.

Oliver Mundell and Finlay Carson's blue army of supporters helped them secure victory for a second time.

Mr Mundell secured 19,487 votes to see of f the challenge of the SNP candidate Joan McAlpine, Labour's ColinSmyth and the Lib Dems Richard Brodie.

And Mr Carson retained the Galloway and West Dumfries seat after a strong SNP challenge from Emma Harper foundered on what appeared to be pro-union tactical voting with the Labour vote halving from 2016.

The Dumfriesshire constituency announcement was made on Friday night after the count had been suspended following a power cut.

The blackout at DG1 in Dumfries at around 2.15pm also affected shops and pubs in the area but the electricity was back on within an hour.

Mr Mundell said: "It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to represent the people of Dumfriesshire these past five years and I want to say thank you putting your trust in me again.

"Especially those voters who are not traditional Conservatives who have lent me their support this time in order to hold of f the nationalists.

"The message could not be clearer. Dumfriesshire wants to remain united and see our Scottish Parliament focusing on rebuilding our country, not tearing it apart."

Mr Mundell, the son of Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell, added: "I promise to keep to my side of the bargain and will be a strong voice for our forgotten region and will always stand up for the unique crossborder interest of our communities.

"Together we have shown we can rise above nationalism and together we can deliver a better future for local people.

"The level of turnout has shown that democracy matters and I very much hope to see life and the freedoms we all enjoy return in fill over the coming months."

Mr Mundell Snr was "delighted" at his son's success and joked: "I'll even forgive him for having a bigger majority than me.

"He has managed to put on 6,000 votes on what has been a very difficult election with two sitting MSPs as his opponents.

"Oliver's win and the fact that not everyone who voted for him is Tory, demonstrates his commitment to the area and to the people of this region."

The turnout figure within the Dumfriesshire constituency was 66 per cent with a total 41,004 votes cast.

Ms McAlpine took second spot with 15,421 votes followed by Colin Smyth on 4,671 and Richard Brodie on 1,314.

Ms McAlpine, who also lost her seat in parliament by failing to secure a spot through the list system, said: ""hank you to everyone in Dumfriesshire who voted for me and the SNP - a rise of more than 3,000 people, or 3.8 per cent in SNP vote share - nearly three times the rise in the party's vote across Scotland.

""he Conservative incumbent held the seat with an increased majority, but the surge in SNP support means more than one in three voters here now believe Scotland's future should be Scotland's choice."

She added: "I always knew this seat would be hard to win. One of the toughest in Scotland.

"Some colleagues suggested I go for one of several easier seats elsewhere. But I've worked hard for years as a regional MSP alongside our activists in Dumfriesshire. Walking away was not an option."

Mr Carson, the Galloway and West Dumfries constituency winner. indicated that rallying unionist support behind the Conservative banner had been a key campaign strategy.

"It might be down to Labour voters lending us their vote," he told the Standard during the count at DG1, In the end, Mr Carson won by 2,635 votes to earn another five years at Holyrood.

For Ms Harper, meanwhile, there was only disappointment - although later in the day she was re-elected to parliament on the south of Scotland regional list.

Mr Carson said: "I'm absolutely delighted and to be honest a bit relieved.

"At some points in the count it looked like the turnout in some of the less supportive areas was going to make winning the election difficult.

"But I'm delighted that the people of Galloway and West Dumfries have turned out and supported me."

A disappointed Emma Harper said: "I'm pleased that I was able to raise the SNP vote. "That's something the activists should be proud of because they all worked really hard.

Labour candidate Archie Dryburgh reckoned his vote was squeezed by the campaign focus on Covid and the constitution while the Greens' Laura Moodie was "proud" to have beaten the Lib Dems to fourth place.

On the regional list, the south elected seven MSPs, Emma Harper of the SNP; Colin Smyth, Carol Mochan and Martin Whitfield of Labour and Tories Craig Hoy, Brian Whittle and Sharon Dowey.

CAPTION(S):

Delighted Tory candidate Oliver Mundell, who retained his Dumfriesshire seat, celebrates with his MP dad, David

Plunged into darkness A power cut disrupted proceedings on Friday

Political rivals The SNP's Joan McAlpine, who lost her list seat, and Tory MP David Mundell watch the count

Back Labour's Colin Smyth was re-elected as a list MSP

Thumbs up Conservative candidate Finlay Carson retained the Galloway and West Dumfries seat
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Author:JACKIE GRANT AND STEPHEN NORRIS
Publication:Dumfries and Galloway Standard (Dumfriesshire, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 11, 2021
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