2000 Ayr by-election

The Ayr by-election on 16 March 2000 was the first by-election for the Scottish Parliament that had been established the year previously. It was caused by the resignation of Ian Welsh who had been elected at the 1999 Scottish Parliament election. Welsh resigned to spend more time with his family.

Ayr by-election

← 1999 16 March 2000 (2000-03-16) 2003 →

The Ayr seat in the Scottish Parliament.
Elected by simple majority using first past the post.
Triggered by resignation of incumbent
  First party Second party Third party
Candidate John Scott Jim Mather Rita Miller
Party Conservative SNP Labour
Popular vote 12,580 9,236 7,054
Percentage 39.4% 29.0% 22.1%
Swing Increase1.4% Increase9.5% Decrease16.0%

Ayr ScottishParliamentConstituency.PNG

MSP before election

Ian Welsh

Subsequent MSP

John Scott

The by-election came amidst the Keep the Clause campaign. The Scottish parliament seat of Ayr shared its boundaries with the Westminster seat, which had until 1997 been held by the Conservatives for almost a hundred years. In the 1999 Scottish parliamentary election the seat had been the most marginal in Scotland, with Labour winning over the Conservatives by a mere 25 votes. The Keep the Clause Campaign sought to influence the outcome of the election, campaigning in the area and buying up billboard space.[1] Souter later claimed to have successfully influenced the by-election, with the by-election being won by the Conservative candidate, who had opposed repealing Section 28.[2] Labour's George Foulkes attacked the Keep the Clause Campaign, claiming there had been a "distortion of democracy" and that the Keep the Clause Campaign had outspent all the candidates combined.[3]

The result was a poor one for the Scottish Labour, which had won the seat in the previous year, albeit with a majority of just 25. Labour fell into third place behind the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Conservatives. The Scottish Socialist Party had a relatively strong performance for a constituency which did not seem like its natural terrain.

This by-election showed a strange effect in the Scottish AMS electoral system. Labour in the South of Scotland region had won seven seats, all as first past the post constituencies and none on the list system through proportional representation, whilst the Conservative and Unionists had won four seats in South of Scotland through the proportional representation system. By winning the Ayr seat at the by-election the Conservatives had technically greater representation than their 1999 results would have proportionally given them. This is an anomaly that the Scotland Act 1998 does not cater for.


2000 Ayr by-election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative John Scott 12,580 39.4 +1.4
SNP Jim Mather 9,236 29.0 +9.5
Labour Rita Miller 7,054 22.1 -16.0
Scottish Socialist James Stewart 1,345 4.2 New
Liberal Democrats Stuart Ritchie 800 2.5 -1.9
Green Gavin Corbett 460 1.4 New
The Radio Vet William Botcherby 186 0.6 New
UKIP Alistair McConnachie 113 0.4 New
ProLife Alliance Robert Graham 111 0.4 New
Independent Kevin Dillion 15 0.1 New
Majority 3,344 10.4 N/A
Turnout 31,900
Conservative gain from Labour Swing

Previous resultEdit

1999 Ayr Scottish Parliament election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Ian Welsh 14,263 38.1 N/A
Conservative Phil Gallie 14,238 38.0 N/A
SNP Roger Mullin 7,291 19.5 N/A
Liberal Democrats Elaine Morris 1,662 4.4 N/A
Majority 25 0.1 N/A
Turnout 37,454
Labour win (new seat)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lynch, Peter (2001). Scottish Government and Politics: An Introduction. Edinburgh University Press. p. 113. ISBN 9780748612871.
  2. ^ "Tories walking on Ayr". BBC News. 17 March 2000.
  3. ^ "Tories 'humiliate' Labour in Ayr byelection". The Guardian. 17 March 2000.

External linksEdit