‘A privilege to serve’ says defeated Kirkcaldy MP

Lesley Laird campaign poster in Kirkcaldy, General Election 2019 (Pic: Fife Free Press)
Lesley Laird campaign poster in Kirkcaldy, General Election 2019 (Pic: Fife Free Press)

Lesley Laird was the second Labour politician to see her personal vote hold up relatively well on a horrible night for her party - and still lose her seat.

Her role a MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath ended around 4:30am last Thursday when the result was finally announced.

She was beaten into second place by Neale Hanvey who secured a majority of 1243.

Ms Laird polled 15,325 votes - down from her 2017 figure of 17,016 which secured the seat at the expense of Roger Mullin.

It was similar to the pattern which saw Marilyn Livingstone defeated as Kirkcaldy’s Labour MSP in 2011.

She too dropped around 2000 votes on a night when an SNP tsunami swept across Scotland - in percentage terms her vote actually rose slightly.

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Ms Laird said it had been a privilege to serve the town.

She noted the “constitutional priorities” – Brexit and Scottish independence – north and south of the border remained unresolved, and said the result wouldn’t bring comfort to those in poverty.

“One third of children in this town are in poverty. We have a shortage of housing.,” she said. “These human issues will not be fixed tomorrow. The focus on constitutional issues is not going to help them.”

She feared the majority handed to Boris Johnson as Prime Minister would only exacerbate the problems.

“We have five more years of Boris Johnson, and for people who are already having a hard time it will only make it more difficult.”

Ms Laird said there were lessons for Labour to absorb after the party emerged with just one seat in Scotland, and saw huge swathes of their heartland in England go Tory.

She said: “I do not believe in knee jerk reactions – nor do I think blaming people is right.

“It is important we take time to reflect and consider everything.

Ms Laird said anti-Semitism -– an issue which has plagued Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – wasn’t reflected on the doorstep conversations.

“Our campaign had a very local focus – we listened and worked on the issues that mattered most to people here.

“It has been a privilege to serve this constituency. Every day I have been an MP I tried to do my best. The voters tonight decided they wanted someone else”