Jamie Stone holds Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross seat but says Lib Dems need to rebuild
Liberal Democrat politician Jamie Stone beat off his SNP challenger Karl Rosie by just 204 votes in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross – but admitted that across the UK it had been a “terrible night” for his party which would now have to rebuild.
Mr Stone, the sitting MP, triumphed over Mr Rosie in a contest that was too close to call until the very end.
Otherwise it was a bad night for the Lib Dems with leader Jo Swinson losing her seat and the party now down to just 11 seats in parliament. New members such as former Labour MPs Chuka Umunna and Luciana Berger as well as former Conservative MP Sam Gyimah all lost their seats.
In the end Mr Stone received 11,705 votes. This was actually an increase in his share of the vote, but Mr Rosie’s more than seven per cent swing at the expense of the Conservatives and Labour pressed the Lib Dem candidate hard.
A clearly relieved Mr Stone said the party would now have to go back and rebuild itself after what he described as a “terrible night”.
“I am going to have to think about this because it is a pretty extraordinary night – let’s be honest, it was a bad night for the Lib Dems and a very, very good night for the SNP and yet in the last second I scraped through by 204 votes.
“I think my result and all the results of the Lib Dems is a wake-up call. Our delusions of grandeur and talk of 100 seats has just come as just a handful of dust in our fingers.
“And as a party if we are serious about Liberalism we need to take a good look at ourselves and see what are we not doing that we should be doing, what we are not saying to the public that we should be saying.
I am re-invigorated, though in the short term I am going to go to Tain and pour myself a large Glenmorangie.
“In the weeks and months ahead I intend to play a pretty big part in this because, believe you me, if you go through what I thought was almost a firestorm and then come out alive at the other end, as I just did, then it is a salutary lesson.
“That said, yes, I am re-invigorated, though I have to say in the short term I am going to go to Tain and pour myself a large Glenmorangie. But having stared over the cliff of what nearly happened to me, you bet I am going to have a lot to say to the party about how we want to sharpen up our act.
“The Highlands always were a stronghold for the Lib Dems but, by jingo, we have come a long way from that, have we not?
“But starting with an excellent group of councillors in the Highlands we can start to build – and we have to start to build. If we don’t we will have another election like this in five years’ time.”
Mr Rosie (SNP) got 11,501 votes, Conservative candidate Andrew Sinclair got 5176, Labour’s Cheryl MacDonald 1936 and the Brexit Party’s Sandra Skinner 1139.
Across Scotland as whole it was a triumphant night for the SNP as it took 48 seats, 13 more than in the last general election – a result that will strengthen the push for a second referendum on Scottish independence.