PAUL Wheelhouse described his election to the Scottish Parliament through the list system as “ a shock akin to getting a kipper in the face”.
However, after relegating the Liberal Democrats into third place in the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituency, the SNP politician vowed his party was “here to stay”.
Mr Wheelhouse revealed he thought his Holyrood dreams had been shattered as Tory John Lamont was declared the winner.
Under Scotland’s system of proportional representation, whereby 56 MSPs are elected from eight regions, Mr Wheelhouse had been placed sixth for his party on the South of Scotland list.
His lowly placing did not preclude his election. The top three – Christine Grahame, Aileen Campbell and Adam Ingram – were all elected via their constituencies and because of a massive surge in list voting for the Nationalists, which amassed 114,000 votes across the South of Scotland, Mr Wheelhouse and his fourth and fifth placed colleagues – Joan McAlpine and Aileen McLeod – were all elected.
He said: “My friend offered his congratulations on my performance, and I replied, rather brusquely: ‘What do you mean? I lost’. He came back with: ‘No you silly fool, you’re in on the list’.
“It was a shock akin to getting a kipper in the face.”
The Ulsterman, who lives in Ayton, has worked for 18 years with an economic development consultancy and puts creation of jobs in a revived Scottish and Borders economy top of his policy agenda.
He added: “I want to be close to the most populous parts of the constituency and need a base to launch a challenge to John Lamont in five years.
“The ballot box piles and the regional list votes showed the SNP had overwhelming support in Selkirk and majority support in Hawick, so that will be my starting point.”