HE was the man who kept all of Scotland waiting on May 8, but when the result was announced after an early morning recount in Kelso, Calum Kerr had pulled off the impossible and given the SNP its 56th seat in the new Parliament.

When he started out campaigning, Kerr had merely hoped to improve the party’s position in the constituency from fourth to third. It was surely a seat that would be fought out between former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and the Conservatives’ John Lamont, the MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.

Yet with a localised campaign, former telecoms consultant Kerr won the seat with a majority of 328, a remarkable achievement in an area which voted two-thirds to one-third for No last September.

Kerr said: “We set out to run a campaign of which we could be proud, but I honestly thought our best hope was to come second and become the alternative to the Tories in this region.

“As the campaign progressed, locally everything just clicked into place. Suddenly instead of a party with 300 members, we had 1,500, and we had people who had campaigned in the referendum and were keen to keep going and fight for a better Scotland and a better Borders.

“Michael Moore is well-liked and respected locally, but the Liberal Democrat vote was falling off a cliff everywhere.

“The Tories fought a campaign where they didn’t mention the party that John Lamont was standing for and their slogan outside the polling stations was ‘only John Lamont can beat the SNP’ – I did a wee jig when I saw that, because we knew that there was a strong anti-Tory vote and any wavering Liberal Democrat voters would know that only the SNP could beat them.”

Kerr – who is married to Ros, a dentist, and has three children – was born in Galashiels and attended Peebles High School where his father was head teacher. He was a keen sportsman at school and while as a Borderer he is typically keen on rugby, he also enjoys football and became a football coach.

He joined the SNP in 2009 at a time of personal upheaval due to his company, Nortel, going into administration.

“It was a bit of a wake-up call for me,” said Kerr, “and though I didn’t lose my job I was forced to re-evaluate my life and decide to do the things I thought were important.

“I believed in independence so I thought I should start doing something about it and joined the party, then went along to branch meetings, getting involved in everything.

“The referendum campaign came along and took up my life for the best part of two years.

“I started with Yes Tweeddale and then helped set up half the groups in the Borders and eventually became chairman of the Yes Borders campaign.”

Now he is the SNP spokesman for environment and rural affairs and, given his telecoms background, will be taking up the case for better mobile phone coverage in rural areas.