Salmond hails SNP's 'historic' breakthrough

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The Scottish National Party won the largest share of the European election vote in Scotland for the first time, beating Labour into second place.

The SNP took 29.1 per cent of the vote – a 10-point increase from 2004 – ahead of Labour's 20.8 per cent. The Conservatives took 16.8 per cent and the Liberal Democrats 11.5 per cent. The SNP and Labour returned two MEPs each, and the Tories and Lib Dems one each.

The SNP leader, Alex Salmond, hailed the result as historic: "Labour MPs must now be quaking in their boots at the prospect of the SNP winning across their former heartlands."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "All over Scotland we are challenging for seats and all over Scotland people are realising that the only way of getting rid of this tired and failing Labour government is to vote for the Conservatives. A vote for any other party at Westminster could allow Labour in by the back door."

In East Renfrewshire, the area represented at Westminster by Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, Labour came third. Mr Murphy put the party's poor showing overall down to a "massive abstention" by Labour voters annoyed over expenses and party wrangling.