THE Scottish Socialists returned two Glasgow MSPs to parliament last night with an electoral success establishing the youthful party firmly on the Scottish political landscape.

Although Tommy Sheridan, the flamboyant leader of the SSP, failed to win outright in the Glasgow Pollok constituency, he was returned along with Rosie Kane on the Glasgow regional list.

Mr Sheridan, who was beaten by over 3000 votes by Labour's Johann Lamont, hailed the SSP's performance as ''the best result in Scotland''.

In an impassioned speech at the Pollok count, Mr Sheridan looked forward to extending the appeal of the SSP.

He said: ''A new political force has been established in Scotland. That new force believes the wealth of Scotland belongs to the people of Scotland. Tonight I think we can confidently predict we will have the best result in Scotland.

''We will have attracted more new voters than any other parties in Scotland and we will have attracted voters in every part of Scotland. We started with a target of four seats and we were ridiculed, rubbished and ignored by the tabloid press. I am confident that we will meet that target and if we get any more than four seats, it will be a spectacular result.''

Ms Kane, who stood for election in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency, came third after Labour and the SNP with 2403 votes (14.52%). She pushed the Tories and Liberal Democrats into fourth and fifth places respectively while increasing her 1999 vote by 763 votes.

Mr Sheridan attributes the success of the SSP to their grassroots allegiance.

Earlier this week, Mr Sheridan told The Herald's Alf Young: ''We started off at a conference in February 1999 and we had no members. We had big ideas, we had big visions of how we wanted to improve Scotland. We had a lot of honesty and lot of integrity but we had few positions.''

On both the east and west of Scotland, the SSP won between 4% and 10% of the vote, even in seats where they had never before fielded a candidate. In Cunninghame South, for example, Rosemary Byrne, the SSP's new candidate polled 2677 (11.76%).

The first-past-the-post results showed the SSP, which for the first time had candidates standing in every seat in Scotland, causing the SNP most electoral damage while also denting the Labour vote in almost every Scottish constituency.

Mr Sheridan, who hoped the SSP would return four MSPs to Holyrood, could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of having five MSPs, which would give the SSP group status in the Scottish Parliament, and a say in the running of the Scottish parliament.

In the Glasgow Pollok constituency Mr Sheridan polled 6016 votes (27.9%), representing a poll increase of 6.42%.

In Jack McConnell's Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, the SSP polled 1961 votes, mostly taken from the SNP, whose vote dropped by 12% in the first-past-the-post poll vote. Mr McConnell, the first minister, increased Labour's vote by 8%, hailed by the Labour hierarchy as ''a great personal victory for Mr McConnell''.

In Hamilton South, the first constituency to declare its result, the SSP polled 1893 votes (9.23%).

In Greenock and Inverclyde, Tricia McCafferty polled 2338 votes (an increase of 6.84%)

In another remarkable SSP result, Malcolm Wilson, in Glasgow Cathcart, polled 2819 votes (12.64%) in a seat held by Labour's Mike Watson, the minister for culture and sport.

The result demonstrated a 1.5% SNP swing to Labour,

but David Ritchie saw the SNP's share of the vote reduced by 11.87% while Mr Watson's vote was reduced by 8.88%.In Dunfermline East, the SSP took 1537 votes, or 6.64%. In Rutherglen, Bill Bonnar, the SSP candidate, polled 2259 (9.5%) of the vote, an increase of 1427 votes from last year.

The SSP won 1301 votes (4.37%) in Angus where Andrew Welsh was returned as the first SNP success of the night.

In Kirkcaldy, the SSP's Rudi Vogels took 1544 votes (7.04%). In Cunninghame South, the SSP took 2677 votes (11.76%), again squeezing the SNP to a greater extent than Labour.

In Fife North East, a LibDem hold, the SSP won 1366 votes (4.66%).

In East Lothian, Hugh Kerr, the SSP's press officer, and former Labour MEP, took 1380 votes (4.42%).

In Fife Central, the seat formerly held by Henry McLeish, the former first minister, the SSP took 1391 votes (5.43%). Christine May, the former convener of Fife council comfortably held the seat for Labour.

In Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Steve Arnott, the SSP candidate, gained 1661 votes in a seat comfortably held by the SNP's Fergus Ewing.

Wendy Alexander, who retained her Paisley North seat, immediately condemned the SSP's success.

Claiming Mr Sheridan was guilty of misleading the electorate, she said:

''I've known Tommy Sheridan for a long time and one of the worst things that you can do to working people is promise that which you can't deliver, and that's something which his whole political life has been about.''