A new Day dawns in West Lothian polling

SNP's Martyn Day and Hannah Bardell celebrate victory in the Linlithgow and East Falkirk and Livingston constituencies
SNP's Martyn Day and Hannah Bardell celebrate victory in the Linlithgow and East Falkirk and Livingston constituencies

The SNP’s Martyn Day trounced Labour rival Michael Connarty to take the Falkirk East seat with a margin of nearly 13,000 votes.

Martyn overcame the Labour candidate on a momentous election night by 32,055 votes to 19,121 to spell the end of Mr Connarty’s 23 years as an MP.

Martyn, who had the youngest election agent in Scotland, Bo’ness teenager Callum Timms, said: “I’m almost speechless.

‘‘It’s been a brilliant result and I want to thank everyone who has contributed to us getting that. I’d like to pay particular tribute to Michael Connarty for his sterling years of service as local MP.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to the many who have went before me because this victory is not just for today. It’s built on years of service and the national movement in this 
area has come a very long way.

“I also pay tribute to my great friend and mentor, Billy Wolfe, who is no longer with us.’’

A former bank worker who has been a Linlithgow councillor for 16 years, Martyn will now be the new man representing East Falkirk at Westminster.

Speaking from the “labyrinth-like” Houses of Parliament in London this week, he said: “It’s still sinking in but it feels great to be elected and I’m really looking forward to the challenge of representing the constituency.

“I joined the SNP with money from my first pay packet and at that time you didn’t join them for a political career because we were only at 11 per cent in the polls. I believed in independence so much that I just had to take some action.

“I think my timetable for working down here will be from Monday to Thursday with the rest of my work done in the constituency but I have a lot of things to sort out.

‘‘I’ll be living in temporary accommodation and I need to organise staff as well but there is a buzz down here.

“You can tell all the SNP MPs because we’re all walking around with smiles on our faces.”

Day confirmed he will now step down as a councillor as soon as it is convenient for him to do it to focus solely on his parliamentary role.

He added: “There is a period of dual mandate, I don’t know how long for, but I don’t think it is credible for me to do the two jobs.

“There are 16 or 17 of us in this position so we may have to get some guidance from the party on this but it is not a crisis situation or anything like that.

‘‘The salary I will get for my council role I will give to a fund for local groups. It won’t be a huge amount but it’s the best I can do in the circumstances.”

Day, who lives in Linlithgow, has close connections to the constituency as dad Ronald was from Grangemouth while mum Margaret’s family are from Bo’ness.

‘‘Billy more than anyone taught me about truth and honesty in politics.

‘‘I will make a solemn promise that I will follow in Billy’s footsteps and fight against the renewal of Trident missiles.

“I pledge that I will fight as hard as I possibly can for every single constituent in this constituency.

‘‘It doesn’t matter how they voted in the referendum, it doesn’t matter how they voted in this election, I will fight tooth and nail for their interests.

“I will fight tooth and nail to make Scotland’s voice heard at Westminster and make sure we have power.”

Martyn said his election campaign was like a “carnival” due to the support he said he received on the doorsteps.

He said: “It’s been more a carnival atmosphere than an election campaign from the public.

‘‘It was more like going to a pop concert - unbelievable.

“My campaign has been entirely positive. We’ve never ran anybody down.

‘‘It’s been all positive making Scotland’s voice being heard, progressive policies for the whole of the UK, fairer voting systems, the austerity agenda and things make a fairer society. That’s what we’ve aimed at.

“That’s what we’ve kept our campaign on and we’ve not deviated from that.

“We’re very committed to working as a progressive alliance and knocking the Tories out of power.”

Falkirk councillor Alan Nimmo who was in Connarty’s camp said it was a “bad night for Labour”, and it was evident it was going to be very early on in the night.

One supporter was said to be crying, while another Labour stalwart stormed out following the early checks of ballot papers by the political teams.