Meghan Gallacher became the third Conservative elected after last week’s counts and will serve alongside Graham Simpson and Stephen Kerr. However she says she will serve out her term with North Lanarkshire Council rather than trigger a by-election.
“I’d gone home at lunchtime while the count was in progress,” she said, “but I got a call from my campaign manager saying I had better come back as there was a good chance I’d got in. I still didn’t believe it until the returning officer confirmed it,” she said.
Of course the move to Holyrood raised the question of what would happen with Miss Gallacher’s role at the council, where she serves in the Motherwell West ward, as her term will not end until next year.
“I spoke about it with the Conservative group and we agreed that given North Lanarkshire has gone through a number of recent by-elections, at a cost to the taxpayer of £50,000 each time, I’ll stay on until next year but donate my council salary to local charities,” she said.
Due to the ongong restrictions, candidates were unable to pursue all the traditional campaigning activities but Miss Gallacher did enjoy speaking to voters over the phone.
“You do get the occasional bit of abuse, especially online. Everyone in politics does,” she said. “However speaking to people was very rewarding and I think I got through to a lot of people about the importance of the peach paper and preventing an SNP majority,” she said.
Going forward, the MSP has two immediate priorties to focus on. “Covid recovery is number one, my campaign was built around it, but also I want to push for fairer funding for local government,” she said.One issue yet to be resolved is where Miss Gallacher will set up her local office but it seems likely she will share a premises with her Central Scotland colleagues.
While she is embarking on her new career it seems Miss Gallacher will at least have no shortage of support getting settled in. “I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support and kindness people have shown me.”