THE Shetland by-election result shows that the SNP can now consider every seat in Scotland “winnable”, the party’s candidate said.

Tom Wills failed to capture what was the safest seat in the Scottish Parliament from the Liberal Democrats but there was a 14.4% swing from Willie Rennie’s party to the SNP, who had their best-ever result in the constituency.

Beatrice Wishart retained the seat formerly held by Tavish Scott for the LibDems with 5659 votes, making history by becoming the first female parliamentarian elected to represent the area.

SNP candidate Wills won 3822 votes, with the LibDems’ majority halved from 4895 in 2016 to 1837.

Wills said: “We’ve achieved our best-ever result in Shetland and the increase in our vote is hugely encouraging – after 12 years in government, we have given the LibDems a run for their money in what was the safest seat in Scotland.

“We take every election seriously and made a point of trying to speak to as many voters in Shetland as possible – and what this extraordinary result shows it that every seat in Scotland is now winnable for the SNP.

“Our decision to run a positive campaign, our clear and unambiguous position on Brexit, our support for giving the people of Scotland a say over their own future, and my personal commitment to tackle the climate crisis and take local issues right to the heart of the SNP government has paid dividends, with a 50% increase to our vote.

“In a matter of weeks we have taken Shetland from being Scotland’s safest seat to one of the SNP’s top targets in 2021. It’s a truly remarkable achievement and we are all determined to build on this result over the next 18 months.”

Wills added: “I wish Beatrice all the best as Shetland’s MSP, she is representing the most beautiful constituency in Scotland. With a crucial period in politics coming up, I hope that she will do everything she can to give Shetland a strong voice at Holyrood.

Independent candidate Ryan Thomson came in third with 1286 votes, ahead of Conservative Brydon Goodlad on 425, Green candidate Debra Nicolson on 189 and Labour’s Johan Adamson on 152.

Another independent candidate, Michael Stout, was next with 134 votes, with Ian Scott collecting 66, while Ukip candidate Stuart Martin secured 60 votes and independent Peter Tait picked up 31.

Wishart said she was honoured “to make a little bit of history by becoming the first female parliamentarian in Shetland” after a “rollercoaster” campaign.

She claimed: “Shetland has once again rejected Scottish nationalism and shown that it has not been taken in by the bullying tactics.

“My work will start on Monday to get the Scottish Government to take action on its empty promises for fair ferry funding, to improve nursery provision, mental health care, broadband – the key strands of my positive campaign for Shetland.”

Orkney and Shetland’s LibDem MP Alistair Carmichael said Wishart had fought a “fantastic campaign”. “There’s no doubt she will be a first-rate member of the Scottish Parliament for Shetland,” he added. “This must be a bitter disappointment for the Scottish nationalists.”