THE SNP group on Edinburgh Council is once again the joint largest group after the party took a Labour seat to win a council by-election in Leith, for so long a Labour stronghold.

Rob Munn was voted in as the new member for the Leith Walk area with a comfortable victory over the Scottish Greens who pushed Scottish Labour into a humiliating third place with just 15.5% of the votes cast.

Munn won 2596 first preference votes, ahead of Lorna Slater of the Greens, who polled 1855. The two pro-independence parties, SNP and the Greens, between them garnered 61.2% of the votes, evidence that in Leith there is obviously some appetite for independence.

The by-election was caused by the resignation in January of Labour councillor Marion Donaldson and her party now has no councillors in the four-member Leith Walk ward where only as recently as 2012 it had two.

Labour candidate Nick Gardner polled 1123, ahead of Dan McCroskie of the Scottish Conservatives on 777, and Jack Caldwell of the LibDems, who was fifth with 623 votes.

The right-wing parties UKIP and For Britain polled 85 and 14 votes respectively – see The Jouker column – in a count with a low turnout of just over 30%.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her congratulations to Munn, twice a councillor before who is returning to the council, hailing his victory as a “fantastic result”.

Munn said he was “absolutely delighted” and he vowed to “work to deliver the very best for all people in the ward and across the city of Edinburgh”.

He added: “I’m looking forward to representing the people of Leith, and being a strong and responsive voice for the community.”

Adam McVey, City of Edinburgh Council and SNP group leader, tweeted: “Delighted @robm2 elected as our newest @theSNP Councillor! Fantastic candidate, outstanding advocate for people in Leith Walk & will bring a wealth of experience in helping us take forward our ambitious programme for City! Thank you to all who supported us.”

SNP depute leader Keith Brown said: “Many congratulations to Rob Munn for this fantastic victory.

“Rob will join a strong SNP group who are delivering for local communities and vital public services in Edinburgh, protecting them from the worst of Tory cuts.

“Despite the Tories throwing the kitchen sink at this by-election, the SNP comfortably topped the poll.

"This goes to show how far the Tories and Labour have fallen. In a Remain-voting ward, it’s no wonder both parties were trounced.”

Labour group leader Cammy Day, said national issues had contributed to his party’s disappointing night which saw Nick Gardner finish third.

He said: “I think Nick fought a hard battle on local issues. It’s quite clear that national issues played a part in this.

"People are getting turned off politics because of national issues.

“I hope to see Nick back on the council in the next local government elections, if not before.

"He has really championed local issues and I think people really respect that.

The SNP and the Conservatives both have 17 members, with the SNP -Labour coalition in control.