Labour says Dunfermline win highlights SNP 'obsessions'
Comfortable by-election victory shows SNP is too focused on independence referendum, says Labour
LABOUR won a "comfortable" victory in the Dunfermline by-election last night after the Scottish National Party failed to hold the seat in the aftermath of a domestic violence scandal.
Cara Hilton, who won the seat by a majority of 2,873 votes – a swing of seven per cent - replaces the SNP's Bill Walker who resigned last month after being "found guilty of a string of violent attacks on his former wives", The Scotsman reports. The win gives Labour a "major boost" at the Scottish Parliament in the aftermath of the party's resounding defeat by the SNP in the 2011 election.
Hilton said that after Walker's "disgrace", Dunfermline's constituents "deserved better". She added: "I will ensure that we will be better - far better than what went before."
The SNP's Shirley-Anne Somerville fought a "tough campaign" based on local issues, reports the Herald Scotland. But she could not avoid an "inevitable by-election swing against a mid-term government, particularly given the background of Bill Walker's trial and conviction for decades of violence against women".
In her victory speech, Labour's newest MSP said the by-election result also showed that Scottish voters are "turned off" by the independence referendum, which will be held on 18 September next year.
She accused the SNP and its leader Alex Salmond of being too focused on the single issue of an independent Scotland. "It's time for you to focus on the real priority of Scots, not your constitutional obsessions," said Hilton.
The Scotsman points out that Labour's victory in Dunfermline is the "first significant win" for the party's Scottish leader Johann Lamont since she took the top job in December 2011. And it is the first Holyrood by-election since Ayr in 2000 when a control has shifted from one party to another. ·