IN the fashionable parlance of football it is fair to say John Swinney got a result yesterday.

Some of his closest supporters have work to do in securing re-election but others likely to win seats next May include some impressive performers, none of whom is perceived as anti-Swinney, and he will be saying farewell to some of his critics.

The SNP has lost dignity in the messy process but learned a lesson, which is why a new and better system will be in force next time.

Margo MacDonald, the big casualty, appeared to hint she might follow her husband, Jim Sillars, into political oblivion after her rebuff in the SNP's selection process. So long an oppositionist inside the Nationalists' parliamentary group, she remarked a touch cryptically she would be announcing her next move ''within a couple of days''.

Whether this means she will pack it all in and head for the family bolt hole in Portugal for a quiet retirement or fight on remains to be seen. Either way, she now has a clear choice.

After her demotion by party activists from first on the list in 1999 to fifth this time, she can walk away or she can honour her selection to fight Edinburgh South in constituency voting as her route back to the Scottish Parliament.

For three years Ms MacDonald has talked of her unpopularity with John Swinney and her popularity with the grassroots. Well, now she has a chance to prove that with the SNP's rank and file she still has pull - because it was somewhat absent over the weekend - and with the voters generally.

She needs a swing of 6.5% in Edinburgh South against Labour's Angus MacKay but that is asking a lot, even for a battle-scarred veteran of successful campaigns. Labour still refuses to collapse into mid-term trouble in Scotland.

Even a proven winner like Ms MacDonald needs a sea change in the SNP's fortunes before she has a realistic chance. One alternative would be to ''do a Canavan'' and stand as an independent on the list, an idea which was gaining currency last night.

If she is lost to Holyrood Mr Swinney will not miss her but the parliament might. For all her contrariness as a member of the awkward squad she is a tough parliamentarian with a habit of winning arguments. It seems now as if she will be replaced by the comparatively unknown Ian McKee, a GP in the tough

Wester Hailes area of Edinburgh with a track record in social activism.

A side-effect of the SNP's difficult week has been the likely reduction of its female representation in Holyrood from 15 to nine.

After retirements and a resignation, two hard-working women have effectively been de-selected along with Ms MacDonald. Fiona McLeod (West of Scotland) and Irene McGugan (North East Scotland) are in apparently hopeless positions on their lists.

Both were Swinney loyalists and they will find it difficult to be philosophical, having done nothing deserving the sack. Ms McGugan could yet return if she can overturn Labour's measly majority of 121 in Dundee West.

The good news for Mr Swinney is that the livewire party treasurer and economics guru, Jim Mather, an electronics millionaire, appears certain of election in Highlands and Islands along with Rob Gibson, a veteran foot soldier and well-known writer, musician and historian.

The two big names in apparent danger are Michael Russell (South of Scotland), the shadow education minister, and Andrew Wilson (Central Scotland), shadow economics minister, both ultra-loyal to Mr Swinney. It seems harsh that the party has shown them such cool acceptance if not quite the cold shoulder.

Mr Russell is widely seen as the outstanding thinker in the SNP, and an obvious leadership contender of the future, but he seems to be paying the price of his years as chief executive where he was influential but unaccountable.

The party has yet to learn to love him which could explain his depression yesterday. Still, if the SNP hold its vote in the South of Scotland he should survive.

Mr Wilson has been shunted down the Central list from second to fifth which puts him in danger, although he can be comforted in the knowledge that the fifth placed last time, Linda Fabiani, now third against expectations, made it safely to Holyrood.

George Reid, deputy presiding officer, with ambitions to succeed Sir David Steel, has been demoted from second last time to fifth in the Mid Scotland and Fife list. That is not as bad as it sounds and Mr Reid still stands a good chance of re-election.

If he fails to win Ochil in constituency voting he could get back via the list because two of those ahead of him - Mr Swinney and his deputy, Roseanna Cunningham - are favourites to keep their first-past-the-post seats, and the region returned three SNP list MSPs last time.

In Glasgow where Sandra White, possibly the least known Nationalist MSP, came from fourth to first after some assiduous working of the system, the chances are high that the comparatively unknown Bill Kidd will be returned.

He is a Unison shop steward and a hospital records supervisor who is on the left of the party but said to belong to no faction. On current trends the SNP would emerge in May with more than its present crop of 35 seats.

Some of the faces would be different but Mr Swinney can look with satisfaction on the disappearance of some of his dissidents including Dorothy-Grace Elder, Lloyd Quinan and now Ms MacDonald, and their replacement with a less troublesome bunch.

His job now is to change the dreadful selection system from the single transferable vote to one-member-one-vote. Ms MacDonald's plea for an open list will go unheard because that would require Westminster to reopen the Scotland Act which dictates the Holyrood electoral system.

With the SNP now in recovery from its little trauma, Labour in London will smile and leave well alone.

Robbie Dinwoodie looks at who is up and who is down on the lists. Rankings from three years ago are in brackets, and the candidates most likely to make it to Holyrood are in bold.


THE SNP won four list seats in the city at the last election and are confident of doing so again. The resignation from the party of Dorothy-Grace Elder has eased the pressure on her three former colleagues and opens the way for Bill Kidd.

Courting of the grass-roots earned Sandra White top place, to the astonishment of some observers. In spite of his energy in the parliament, Kenny Gibson slips one place. A characteristic flash of temper at the hustings meeting may have contributed.

1: (4) Sandra White, 50, Renfrewshire councillor before becoming list MSP; group whip. Will contest Kelvin.

2: (1) Nicola Sturgeon, 30, solicitor before becoming list MSP; shadow health minister. Stands in Govan.

3: Bill Kidd, an NHS clerical officer, left the SNP to contest Glasgow Central by-election in 1989 as a Scottish Socialist (before the current party of that name) but returned to the fold in 1999. Candidate for Anniesland.

4: (3) Kenny Gibson, 39, former councillor before becoming list MSP; shadow social justice minister. Will contest Pollok.

5: Frank Rankin, candidate for Springburn.

6: Dr Bill Wilson, who stands in Maryhill.

7: Bashir Ahmad, founder of Scots Asians for Independence.

8: Anne McLaughlin, who will contest Rutherglen.

9: Jim Byrne, candidate in Shettleston.

10: Lachlan McNeill, who will stand in Baillieston.

11: Maire Whitehead, the Cathcart candidate.

Highlands and Islands

THE retirement of the eldest and youngest members of the house, Winnie Ewing and Duncan Hamilton, opens the door to new blood. The party won two constituency and two list seats in the electoral region last time, and even if the multi-way marginal Inverness East seat changed hands the top four names in this list would still be at Holyrood next year.

1: (5) Jim Mather, 56, started out with IBM before starting his own information technology company. Heads up Business for Scotland group and is an articulate proponent of the economics of independence. Stands in Argyll and Bute.

2: (4) Fergus Ewing, 45, solicitor and son of Winnie, the shadow rural affairs minister won Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber three years ago.

3: (2) Margaret Ewing, 46, veteran MP held her Westminster seat, Moray, in 1999. The parliamentary group convener, she is currently recovering from breast cancer.

4: (8) Rob Gibson, 57, is a writer, musician and historian, and has held a string of party posts. Contesting Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

5: Alasdair Nicholson, candidate in the Western Isles.

6: David Thompson, who stands in Ross, Skye and Inverness West.

7: Angus MacNeil

8: Jean Urquhart.

9: Willie Ross, Shetland.

10: Alan Sillars.

11: Brian Nugent.

Central Scotland

THIS electoral region, stretching from Falkirk, down through Lanarkshire into East Ayrshire, brought five list MSP for the nationalists in 1999.

If they gained one fewer this time, for example as the result of a gain for the Scottish Socialist Party, the vulnerable MSP would be one of the party's intellectual high-fliers, Andrew Wilson. Theories for this involve personal rivalry, jealousy, or even that infamous suggestion that Scots should support England in the World Cup.

1: (1) Alex Neil, 50, economic consultant before becoming list MSP; given convenership of the enterprise committee after challenging John Swinney for the leadership. Will contest Hamilton North and Bellshill.

2: (3) Michael Matheson, 31, occupational therapist before becoming list MSP; deputy justice spokesman. Candidate for Falkirk West.

3: (5) Linda Fabiani, 45, worked for housing associations before becoming list MSP; deputy social justice spokeswoman. Will fight East Kilbride.

4: (4) Gil Paterson, 60, owns car parts business; group whip. Candidate for Airdrie and Shotts.

5: (2) Andrew Wilson, 31, economist; shadow enterprise minister. Will contest Cumbernauld and Kilsyth.

6: Councillor Keith Brown, candidate for Falkirk East.

7: Chris Stephens, candidate for Coatbridge and Chryston.

8: John Wilson, candidate for Hamilton South.

9: Jim McGuigan, candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw.


ONE of the most brusing battles has resulted in one of the biggest losses, that of Margo MacDonald, voted down because some thought she had sniped at the leadership once too often. She also tried to help Lloyd Qunan find a berth in the Lothians, which posed a threat to the existing MSPs, whose supporters fought back. Her loss should be Ian McKee's gain.

1: (2) Kenny MacAskill, 43, a lawyer, was already a veteran candidate when he became a list MSP. Formerly close to Margo MacDonald, his appetite for work was rewarded by John Swinney, who made him shadow enterprise minister. He will stand in Edinburgh East and Musselburgh.

2: (3) Fiona Hyslop, 37, a marketing manager, is the number three figure in the shadow cabinet, as shadow minister for parliament and strategy. She will stand in Linlithgow.

3: (7) Dr Ian McKee, a GP in the Wester Hailes scheme in the city's Pentlands constituency, which he is contesting.

4: Anne Dana, the party's vice-convener for publicity, standing again in Edinburgh North and Leith and again just one place too far down the list.

5: (1) Margo MacDonald, the highest profile MSP to lose out in the process, must now concentrate on again contesting Edinburgh South.

6: Councillor Peter Johnston, the Livingston candidate.

7: Graham Sutherland, who stands in Midlothian.

8: Kevin Pringle, former party communications director who now works for Alex Salmond at Westminster, is contesting Edinburgh Central.

9: Alex Orr.

10: Greg McCarra.

11: Sheena Cleland.

12: Jim Bryce.

Mid Scotland and Fife

THE only real talking point here is the swapping of Bruce Crawford and George Reid on the list, the latter learning the painful truth - which he suspected was coming - that being part of Sir David Steel's presiding officer team carries the danger of loss of profile.

1: (1) John Swinney, 36, is safe in his constituency and at the top of his list, but the tensions of ranking process have damaged his leadership.

2: (5) Bruce Crawford, 47, former civil servant; the shadow environment minister has obviously pleased the activists. He contests Stirling.

3: (3) Tricia Marwick, 48, former housing campaigner, keeps her high place on the list after hard work as shadow local government. Expects attacks on Henry McLeish saga to help her as candidate for Central Fife.

4: (4) Roseanna Cunningham, the party's deputy leader and shadow justice minister, has the usual fight on her hands to protect her seat in Perth but would be safe anyway in this position on the list.

5: (2) George Reid, 63, the SNP veteran's fear that a consensual approach to politics and his busy role as deputy presiding officer could leave him vulnerable has been borne out.

6: Janet Law, who stands in Dunfermline West.

7: Gerry Fisher.

8: Capre Ross Williams, the North East Fife candidate.

9: Charles Forbes.

10: Brian Goodall, who is contesting Dunfermline West.

11: Alison Lindsay.

12: Colin Welsh, Kirkcaldy.

West of Scotland

THE all-change list in the West comes about because Kay Ullrich retired, Colin Campbell did not win the necessary nominations, Lloyd Quinan headed home to the east, and Fiona McLeod found herself pushed down the rankings.

1: Campbell Martin, 42, inherits his chance from Kay Ullrich. He is standing in Cunninghame North.

2: Bruce McPhee, 41, leader of the SNP on the frequently bruising West Renfrewshire council, is standing in that constituency.

3: Stewart Maxwell, an administrator with Strathclyde Fire Brigade, is contesting Eastwood.

4: (5) Jim Yuill, 62, now retired, is a veteran candidate, a JP and community councillor in Dunbartonshire. He contests Clydebank and Milngavie.

5: Dr Iain Docherty, the Dumbarton candidate.

6: George Adam, candidate for Paisley North.

7: Fiona MacLeod, current list MSP, who is standing in Strathkelvin and Bearsden.

8: Tom Chalmers, candidate for Greenock and Inverclyde.

9: Jim McLeod.

10: Councillor Bill Martin, who is contesting Paisley South.

North East Scotland

LAST time the top two on the list, Alex Salmond and Andrew Welsh, won their seats and four more went through on the list. Mr Welsh at five on the list should hold his seat.

1: (4) Richard Lochhead, 31, an economic development officer before becoming a list MSP, has progressed to deputy minister for parliament and rural affairs. Will fight Aberdeen Central.

2: (3) Brian Adam, 51, a biochemist until entering parliament, is deputy to the shadow enterprise minister. He stands in Aberdeen North.

3: (5) Shona Robison, 45, a former community worker, deputy to the shadow health minister, is seeking to recapture the Dundee East.

4: Dr Alasdair Allan, 31, was parliamentary assistant to Michael Russell. Has overtaken Mr Russell's deputy on the list.

5: (2) Andrew Welsh, 58, another MP who easily protected his seat, Angus, in moving over to Holyrood.

6: Maureen Watt stands in Aberdeen South.

7: Irene McGugan, deputy to the shadow education minister, will only get back if she can take Dundee West from Labour.

8: Ian Angus fights West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.

South of Scotland

JOURNALISTS from all parts of the spectrum rate Michael Russell extremely highly, while his party political opponents fear and respect him in equal measure. How come the delegates rated him so lowly?

1: (4) Christine Grahame, 57, has been a strong performer in the parliament. Contests Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale.

2: (1) Alasdair Morgan, 55, shadow finance minister, another former MP who took his Galloway and Upper Nithsdale seat three years ago, only for the SNP to lose it at the general election.

3: (3) Adam Ingram, 50, economics consultant before becoming list MSP. Will again stand in Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley.

4: (2) Michael Russell, 48, author and film producer became chief executive of the party under Salmond, and then a list MSP; shadow minister for children and education, has riskiest position on list. Will fight Cunninghame South.

5: Tom Roberts, the candidate in East Lothian.

6: John Brady, who will contest Clydesdale.

7: James Dornan, Ayr.

8: Roderick Campbell, fighting Roxburgh and Berwickshire.

9: Andrew Wood, Dumfries.