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Labour celebrates as party keeps its grip on Scotland

Labour was celebrating this morning by recapturing two seats it lost in by-elections, holding on to two other seats where it could have been in trouble and a swing behind it contradicting the trend in England.

In a major blow to the LibDems, Labour’s Thomas Docherty took Dunfermline and West Fife from Willie Rennie and Baillieston MSP Margaret Curran won back Glasgow East from the SNP -- the result Alex Salmond called a “political earthquake” when John Mason won it for the SNP.

In East Lothian, where Labour deselected Anne Moffat, party loyalists rallied to back Fiona O’Donnell and in Livingston, where Jim Devine was deselected, the seat was held for Labour by Graeme Morrice.

As the results piled in, it became clear that Labour was going to retain its grip on Scotland while leading Tories were admitting the best they could hope for was that David Mundell, their sole MP after the last election, would hold on.

A strong Tory challenge on Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy in East Renfrewshire was held off, partly because of tactical voting by SNP supporters. His majority was more than 10,000.

In Glasgow, Anas Sarwar celebrated with his father Mohammad as he followed in his footsteps as MP for Glasgow Central.

The first Scottish results were declared just after 1am and they set the tone for the night as Labour held on to two constituencies in its Lanarkshire heartlands with an increased share of the vote.

In Rutherglen and Hamilton West its candidate Tom Greatrex, an aide to Jim Murphy, was a comfortable winner and Frank Roy held on to Motherwell and Wishaw.

The early picture across Scotland suggested more voters had turned out in many constituencies than in recent elections but party officials at the counts were not predicting big shocks.

Early indication were that Labour was performing better in Scotland than in England and the LibDems were not benefiting as much from the bounce in Nick Clegg’s popularity as they were south of the Border.

With 13 MPs in Scotland retiring -- most of them Labour -- it appeared that Labour MPs defending their constituencies were doing better than newcomers.

Scotland Office minister Ann ­McKechin defended Glasgow North in the face of a strong LibDem challenge.

Indications from Edinburgh, where the counts were taking place at Meadowbank, were that the Labour candidates in Edinburgh North and Leith, Mark Lazarowicz, and Edinburgh South, Ian Murray, were in trouble as voters switched to the LibDems.

However, Labour was confident that the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, had held on to his seat of Edinburgh South West. Edinburgh West, where LibDem John Barrett stood down, looked certain to be retained comfortably by Mike Crockart.

There was some good news for the LibDems in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey where Danny Alexander was tipped to win.

Throughout the west of Scotland, Labour held on to its heartland constituencies while SNP hopes in Dundee West were dashed by a comfortable victory for Labour’s Jim McGovern.

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