Kirkcaldy SNP MSP: Pandemic recovery first and then focus on independence

Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance says he supports the idea of holding off on a second Scottish independence referendum - because 'nobody wants it' during a pandemic.

The question of independence, while close to his heart as a long-time SNP member since 1981, is one the newly re-elected representative is happy to put on the backburner for now.

After claiming victory in her own constituency of Glasgow Southside, SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a second independence referendum would be a priority "when the time is right" - after the Covid pandemic.

"I'm definitely behind her [Sturgeon] on this," Mr Torrance says.

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Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance

"We need to get rid of the pandemic first and get the country on the road to recovery. Then we can think abut an independence referendum.

"There's no point going through it just now because nobody wants a referendum during the pandemic.

"If we can get Scotland back on a good standing, then we can look to have those discussions."

The SNP incumbent added that he was "pleasantly surprised" to be returned with an increased majority as Kirkcaldy's representative following Thursday's election with a lead of 7,831 over Labour's Claire Baker.

It's an increase of 436 over his previous majority in 2016, and saw the veteran Scout Leader once again deny Ms Baker a claim to a constituency seat.

Mr Torrance gained an extra 2,059 votes over his 2016 total - but his overall majority was dented by new support for both Labour and the Conservatives, helped by a record turnout in the Kirkcaldy seat area of 56.9%.

"I was just hoping I would hold onto the vote I had in 2016 because that would be enough to win it," Torrance said.

"But to increase the vote by 2,000 just shows the strength of feeling - it was a pleasant surprise."

Mr Torrance has now spent a decade representing Kirkcaldy after ousting Labour's Marilyn Livingstone by just 182 votes in 2011.

Among his priorities for the next five years are a renewed focus on regenerating the town's High Street, particularly by exploring wider uses for empty units from community use to housing - and that comes before any debate over Scotland's future.

"Recovery from the pandemic, trying to regenerate the high street, getting jobs in area - those are my priorities," he added.

"We need apprenticeships to upskill the workforce around here, especially with BiFab - there's no point creating 290 jobs if they're going to people outside the constituency. It's really important we keep them here."

Also in the running for Kirkcaldy was Conservative councillor Kathleen Leslie, who increased her party's vote tally by 323 to 4891.

"I feel there was a bit of tactical voting work for Labour, but as for myself it's a good build-up for next year's council elections," she said of her defeat.

Kirkcaldy constituency result:Claire Baker, Labour - 10586 (30.1%)Alan Beal, Lib Dem - 1015 (2.9%)Kathleen Leslie, Conservative - 4891 (13.9%)Calum Paul, Scottish Libertarian - 269 (0.8%)David Torrance, SNP - 18417 (52.4%)35178 valid votes cast - turnout 56.9%

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