FORMER Greens MSP Andy Wightman thanked backers yesterday after he failed to secure re-election as an independent.

The former representative for the Lothian region entered Holyrood in 2016 and quit the party in a row related to their diverging positions on equalities reforms. He subsequently announced he’d go it alone and run in the Highlands and Islands region.

His was a platform of land reform, affordable housing and environmental action.

Wightman secured 3367 votes but this was not enough to win a seat. However, the Greens did take a list seat with 17,729 votes, meaning Ariane Burgess is now heading to Holyrood.

Yesterday Wightman thanked voters for their support. In a statement posted on Twitter, he told them: “Your enthusiasm was hugely motivating. Heartfelt thanks to you all. Running a ground campaign when the airwaves were dominated by big parties was always going to be a challenge.”

Despite the result, Wightman vowed to “honour that commitment” to work with others “to try and fix the scandalous housing crisis that has been with us for decades”.

He said: “We raised issues that thousands care about on housing.

“These issues will not go away. Such matters dominated my conversations with voters but were not front and centre in this election.”

Criticising the stance of the SNP, he continued: “The paucity of serious debate was illustrated by the fact that the SNP policy on second homes was the planning policy of St Ives in Cornwall.

“That the Isle of Skye has less power that an English Town Council cuts to the heart of the structural changes needed in political power.”

The other successful candidates on the Highlands and Islands list are four Tories – including party leader Douglas Ross, Edward Mountain, Donald Cameron and Jamie Halcro Johnston – alongside Rhoda Grant of Labour and Emma Roddick of the SNP.

That result is in line with predictions by polling guru Professor Sir John Curtice.

The Scottish Family Party took 1976 votes, while Michelle Ballantyne’s Reform UK managed 547.

The SNP achieved the highest vote share with 96,433.