Edinburgh Southern candidates confident as postal vote turnout high
Candidates in the closely-contested Holyrood seat of Edinburgh Southern have welcomed the high turnout of postal votes as counting continues.
The seat was won by Scottish Labour’s Daniel Johnson at the 2016 election, defeating then SNP incumbent Jim Eadie by a majority of 1,123 votes.
Edinburgh Southern was also the only constituency in Scotland to elect a Labour MP, Ian Murray, to Westminster at the 2019 general election.
The Holyrood seat is a key target for the SNP as it aims for an overall majority.
We were getting a very positive reaction on the doors - we weren't necessarily sure that that would be the case
Across the six Edinburgh constituencies, the postal vote turnout was 89.2%, with a record 91,068 ballots returned, according to the council.
Mr Johnson said he is “feeling positive” as the initial postal votes started to be counted, while SNP challenger Catriona MacDonald said she feels “quite hopeful” given the turnout of her party’s supporters on Thursday.
She told the PA news agency: “In our strongest areas, people were really, really engaged and really keen to go out and vote, even despite the weather.
“We had people queuing outside the polling place in hail and rain, but I went round to pretty much every polling place and it was really positive.
“There have been a lot more postal votes than usual – it’s about 13,000 postal votes in our constituency.
“Given the very unusual circumstances of the election it’s probably not surprising, but it’s a really positive thing so no-one misses out.”
Speaking shortly before midday, Mr Johnson said: “The turnout looks like it’s been very strong, there was queuing at the polls and most importantly we were getting a very positive reaction on the doors – we weren’t necessarily sure that that would be the case.
“So we’ll have to see what the count brings us, but I’m feeling good about the campaign we’ve run and we’ll see what final tallies are.”
Scottish Conservative Miles Briggs is also contesting the constituency and – as with Mr Johnson – is also top of his party’s regional list ballot.
He told PA: “Speaking to Conservative activists, we were happy that we turned out our voters and our supporters, and we were getting great feedback yesterday.
“The campaign’s been very different, we’ve tried to get people to register for postal votes, that seems to be successful.
“We have obviously seen a huge increase in the turnout as well so we’ll need to wait and see what sort of impact that has.
“We’ve run a positive campaign and we’ve tried to focus people on lending us their regional list vote, and from the early indications we’ve seen already from postal votes, we seem to be winning these across the three seats which are being counted today.
“So I’m really optimistic about what that presents for the final result here in Lothian.”
The turnout in Edinburgh Southern was 45,466 (71.11%), an increase of 8,307 on the 2016 election when turnout was 64.6%.