IN THE end it was the result Gordon Buchan had been dreading. He was hoping for a low turn out with Labour supporters staying away, giving him a chance to unseat transport and Scotland secretary Alistair Darling.
But the sun shone, and 65.1% of Edinburgh South West voters turned up. The Liberal Democrats came from nowhere to a close third, with 9,252 votes, compared with Buchan's creditable 10,234. Darling romped home with 17,476 votes and a huge majority.
On the night, Buchan was surprised the LibDems had done so well, given that they appeared to have done little campaigning. But Darling made a bullish victory speech. 'The election in the constituency was a reflection of the picture across the country.
The voters totally rejected the Conservative alternative, ' he claimed.
If Buchan can take anything positive from the election it will be that he lost out because voters were thinking of the bigger national picture.
There was undoubtedly an Iraq war protest in the strength of the Lib Dem vote, but even without it, Buchan is unlikely to have made significant enough inroads into Darling's majority.
But unlike Darling, whose campaign was boosted by visits from big hitters like David Blunkett, Buchan did it on his own, while holding down a day job with one of the country's larger engineering consultancies.
After the result was announced in the early hours of Friday morning, Buchan was disappointed, exhausted, but without regrets. 'If you believe in it, you've got to do it, ' he said. 'It was nice to meet a wide community of people and help them with their issues.' Asked whether he would stand again, he said he would have to wait until after his wedding later in the year. His commitment has undoubtedly impressed local activists who already have him in mind as they think about the next set of Scottish elections.