Ukip 'poised for 1st Scottish seat'
Nigel Farage's Ukip could be on course to win its first seat north of the border, early results from the European elections suggested tonight.
With 11 of the country's 32 local councils having declared their results, Alex Salmond's SNP is in front with most votes so far.
But Ukip, which does not currently have any elected representatives at any level in Scotland, is in fourth place, ahead of both the Greens and Liberal Democrats.
The running total, announced in Edinburgh tonight, puts the SNP - which had been fighting to increase its number of MEPs from two to three - ahead with 140,333 votes, followed by Labour on 122,244, and the Tories on 101,899.
Ukip has polled 51,743, putting Mr Farage's party in contention for one of the six Scottish seats.
The Lib Dems have 40,316, behind the Greens on 46,099.
At the last European Parliament elections in 2009, both the SNP and Labour secured two MEPs from Scotland, with the Tories and the LIberal Democrats each having one Scottish MEP.
But with support for the Liberal Democrats having dropped since then, the party could lose out.
Results from most councils show turnout in Scotland is up on five years ago, when just 28.6% of people voted - below the UK average.
Early figures from 26 councils put turnout this time at 34%.
Ukip lead candidate David Coburn said his party wanted to change the way the country was run.
The running total among Scotland's 32 councils suggests the party polled about 10% of the vote nationally.
"It shows Scots are fed up to the back teeth with the usual suspects," Mr Coburn said in Edinburgh as the declarations continued.
"Working people are fed up with the Labour Party who talk a big game, and with the SNP, who are just Edinburgh solicitors doing the Highland fling and not worrying about anything that really matters to ordinary people."
He added: "Win or lose, we will put MPs in Westminster and MSPs in Holyrood.
"We will change the way Scotland is run."
In the Edinburgh City Council area the Labour Party - led by Johann Lamont in Scotland - polled narrowly ahead of the SNP.
Labour won 32,758 votes there, just ahead of the SNP's 32,721. The Conservatives came in third in the capital, with 27,554 votes, while the Greens came fourth with 22,836. The Liberal Democrats were fifth, with 12,575, pushing Ukip into sixth with 10,992.
But in other regions the SNP was ahead of Labour.
In North Ayrshire Mr Salmond's party secured 10,736 votes, ahead of Labour's 9,558.
The Nationalists also came top in both the Aberdeenshire and the Aberdeen City Council areas.
In Aberdeenshire 19,802 people backed the SNP, the Conservatives came second with 15,710, while Labour secured 6,402 votes.
Meanwhile in the Aberdeen City Council area the Nationalists won 15,412 votes, ahead of Labour's 12,420 and the Tories, who polls 9,824.
The SNP remains top in Scotland, after 22 of 32 councils declared, with 266,695 votes, Labour were second with 238,428; while the Conservatives were in third with 165,220.
Overall, Ukip was in fourth place with 94,919 votes in the 22 areas that had declared, ahead of the Scottish Green Party - which had also hoped to win its first Scottish MEP - on 72,241, while the Liberal Democrats were sixth with 59,303.
Mr Salmond said his party was on track to poll most votes north of the border and "win yet another election".
He told the BBC that the SNP's share of the vote so far was " exactly where we were five years ago", adding that from there his party had gone on to a landslide victory in the 2011 Holyrood elections.
The First Minister said: "A fter seven years in government, it looks like we're going to win yet another election in Scotland. I don't think that's too bad a performance."
He also contrasted Ukip's performance in Scotland to that party's stronger showing south of the border.
"It's a question of whether the SNP will get a third seat out of six or whether Ukip will get one seat and fourth place in Scottish politics," Mr Salmond said.
"That seems like a world of difference from the results I'm hearing in England, where Ukip seem to be topping the polls.
"I hope that we manage to keep Ukip out of Scotland. But there's a difference between a party getting perhaps under 10% of the vote in Scotland and over 30% in England."