THE Scottish Liberal Democrats have won a resounding byelection victory in Edinburgh, threatening Labour’s fragile grip on power in the capital.

The victory for Fiona Bennett in the Corstorphine/Murrayfield ward means the LibDems now have 13 councillors to Labour’s 12.

Although the SNP are the biggest group on the authority, with 18 councillors, Labour has run a minority administration since last year’s elections.

Its demotion to third-largest party at the City Chambers puts that in doubt.

It is understood the LibDem group on the council will meet on Monday to discuss its next move.

The SNP came second in the byelection, and saw their vote fall by almost a third.

Comedian Elaine Miller, who ‘flashed’ a pubic wig at Holyrood in a protest against gender recognition reforms, came eighth of the nine candidates.

The LibDem win coincides with the party’s spring conference opening in Dundee today.

Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “I am delighted to see Fiona Bennett storm to victory.

“Improving the lives of her community and the people around her is what Fiona is all about and she will now do that to great effect from the city chambers of our nation’s capital.  

“Fiona ran a campaign forged in the finest traditions of our party and by so doing she, and her team, delivered the biggest local authority by-election victory in our history.

“There is a now a corner of West Edinburgh made solid gold by her success. It is represented at every level of democracy by our party and our party alone.

“By electing Scottish Liberal Democrat councillors we can improve communities and change lives. It’s in our DNA. And the engine rooms that we are establishing around the country will help to lift our vote at every parliamentary election as well.”

Councillor Bennett said: “I would like to thank everyone who voted for me and everyone who came out to campaign on my behalf.

“I am delighted to have won this election and now I will be getting to work to represent the people of Corstorphine/Murrayfield.

“Whether it’s fixing our broken roads and pavements, action on air pollution, measures to tackle flooding, or supporting local traders, there’s so much to do.”



The byelection was caused by the resignation of former SNP Lord Provost Frank Ross in December after his party refused to back financial support for local traders.

Despite being a single transferable vote byelection, Ms Bennett won without any need for transfers by taking 56 per cent of the first preferences. 

It gives the Scottish LibDems 13 of the 63 seats on the council.

Until last month, Labour also had 13, running the city with Tory and LibDem support.

However on February 23, Sighthill/Gorgie councillor Ross McKenzie dramatically quit the party in the middle of a full council meeting, reducing Labour to 12.

 The full result of yesterday’s Corstorphine/Murrayfield byelection was as follows:

Scottish Liberal Democrats 4,577 (56%)

SNP 1,086 (13.3%)

Conservative 788 (9.7%)

Labour 568 (7%)

Green 417 (5.1%)

Independent Elaine Miller 327 (4%)

Independent Pete Grigson 295 (3.6%)