The SNP’s 56 MPs – 50 of them new Members – are getting to grips with their new working environment at Westminster. Among the 41 Labour MPs they have waved goodbye to are Tom Greatrex and Jim Hood, both of whom have worked hard for their constituents here. I wish them well.
Now we have Angela Crawley MP and Margaret Ferrier MP, with a jaw-dropping 52.6 per cent of the vote for Margaret in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, and Angela winning 49 per cent of the vote in Lanark and Hamilton East. My heartfelt congratulations to both of them. The two of them, plus Lisa Cameron in East Kilbride mean we've three women MPs in Lanarkshire. Then we've got three women MSPs as well - myself, Linda Fabiani and Clare Adamson. That's good for gender equality!
Westminster will be exciting, dramatic, different, probably quite emotional for many and certainly an entirely new experience. There will be all the logistics of getting passes, email addresses, phone numbers, then offices and staff. In 2010, some MPs were still waiting for offices three months after the election. Hopefully, there will be a more efficient approach this time. I don’t think pitching tents on the grass along the Thames would go down too well.
The politics of the UK will never be the same again and that is a very good thing. The SNP is now the third largest party in the Commons even though it represents just 10 per cent of voters in the UK. It holds as many seats, bar one, as the LibDems did in the Coalition.
Angela will already be familiar to many people as the local councillor for Hamilton South and the SNP spokesperson for Young People and Community Resources. She is warm, tenacious, born and raised in Hamilton and is absolutely committed to the area. She knows the people, the issues, the needs of the community and she will be fighting all the way to help build greater prosperity and a fairer society.
When she won, Angela said: “One of the biggest issues for people is that they want an end to austerity. They want progressive politics, they want to get away from austerity and they don’t want to spend billions on renewing Trident.
“It’s the greatest honour in the world to have the constituents of Lanark and Hamilton East putting their faith in me.
“I will make sure that I work hard every day to serve them.”
Margaret Ferrier will also be giving her all at Westminster. Margaret moved from Glasgow to Rutherglen in 1972 and has lived in Cambuslang for 15 years.
A strong voice in Amnesty International, she has always been someone who wanted to stand up for people’s human rights and equality.
Her win was huge with 30,279 votes against Labour’s Tom Greatrex. Speculation had been suggesting this was a seat that Labour might hold on to!
When she spoke after her win, Margaret stressed a vital point: “My door will always be open to everyone, whoever they voted for. I’m there to represent all the people to the best of my ability, regardless of political allegiance.
“It’s an incredible result. I’m shocked at the majority. I really want to work for all of the people in this constituency and tonight proves that they are looking for change.”
I’ve never stood for a Westminster seat, so I look forward to hearing more about how our new folk respond to it. One thing I know for sure is that each and every one of them has a challenging, demanding and very full-on five years ahead.
There were 3,971 candidates looking for those 650 seats at Westminster during the election campaign. That’s an average of six candidates for every constituency. Some never had any mission of winning and the Treasury benefitted to the tune of £782,500 in lost deposits.
Winning a tartan seat on those green benches has been a driver for all the SNP candidates. With 56 of them in place, we now know we have a stronger voice for Scotland.
We will be heard.