Local elections: SNP and Labour make gains at Coalition’s expense


By a Newsnet reporter

Both the SNP and Labour have made gains in Scotland’s local elections at the expense of the Conservatives and Lib Dems.

The SNP is Scotland’s biggest party in terms of vote share and number of councillors returned, taking majority control of Dundee and Angus.  The party also overtook Labour as the largest in North Ayrshire and Stirling.  Scottish councils now contain a total of 424 SNP councillors, up 61 from the previous local elections, Labour increased their tally by 48, to 394.

In Dundee, where every one of the 16 candidates put forward by the SNP was elected, Dundee West MSP Joe Fitzpatrick said:

“This truly is historic for the SNP in Dundee.  I am absolutely thrilled that my home city has voted clearly to become an SNP city.  In 2007 the SNP held no majorities. I am pleased Angus and Dundee have delivered the first two majority administrations for the SNP.

“We have a strong track record since taking over as a minority, and voters come out today and given us a strong vote of confidence.”

The SNP won the most first preference votes in Dundee and Aberdeen, SNP representation increased by 6 seats in Edinburgh and by 5 in Glasgow with a swing from Labour to the SNP in first preferences across Glasgow. Labour failed to win a single extra seat in Glasgow.

Increased councillors were also secured in North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Fife, and the Borders as the SNP widened the national gap with Labour.  SNP councillors will now discuss the way forward for administrations across the country.

Though the SNP made gains, they failed to overtake Labour as the largest party in Glasgow, seen as one of the party’s key targets.

Labour remain the largest party in Glasgow, and are celebrating the regaining the majority they recently lost after a series of resignations by sitting Labour councillors.

Labour are also celebrating taking control in Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.  However they lost overall control of Midlothian where the SNP gained two council seats and the Greens gained one.

The Lib Dems bore the brunt of voter anger and had a catastrophic result.  Thursday’s vote saw the party lose 95 council seats, leaving them with just 71 of the 166 they held before the election.  In Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Midlothian, North Ayrshire and Stirling, the Lib Dems lost all of their sitting councillors.  

In many parts of the country Nick Clegg’s party was humiliated.  In North Lanarkshire the party’s sole sitting councillor managed to obtain just 223 votes, while in one ward in Edinburgh the Lib Dems gained fewer first preferences than a joke candidate, Professor Pongoo, a 6-foot penguin.

The party did especially poorly in the capital, losing 13 out of their 16 sitting councillors.  Edinburgh’s Liberal Democrat council leader, Jenny Dawe, failed to be re-elected.  Ms Dawe said the UK coalition was the biggest factor in Lib Dem losses and not the city’s controversial tram project.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Lib Dems in Scotland, said: “These results should dispel any myth that the Liberal Democrats are only in the coalition for ourselves. This is a very distressing day.”

Although the Conservatives managed to pick up a few seats in areas where they are traditionally strong, overall the party lost 28 seats.

There was better news for the Scottish Greens who almost doubled their representation across the country.  Patrick Harvie, leader of the party said: “To nearly double the number of councillors we have in Scotland – which is mirrored by our sister party south of the border – leaves lots of happy Green faces walking away from the count in Glasgow.

It’s very hard when everyone in the media are talking about Labour and the SNP, it’s hard to make that breakthrough.”

All parties will be concerned by the relatively low turnout.  Although the actual turnout was not quite as low as some feared, only around 38% of Scots bothered to vote.

Across the UK the pattern of Conservative and Lib Dem losses was repeated.

Labour gained over 800 council seats in England and Wales and took control of 23 councils in England and 6 in Wales.  The Conservatives lost 418 seats and the Lib Dems 366.  The sole bright spot for David Cameron was the likelihood that Boris Johnson would hold onto his seat as mayor of London.

Welcoming the excellent results and continued growth in support for the SNP Scotland’s First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond said

“With over 420 councillors, an increase of around 60 on 2007 and double the lead over Labour the SNP has won Scotland’s election.

“This is a great win for the SNP and for Scotland.  Five years after backing the SNP for the first time Scotland continues to move forward with the only national party. That is a substantial achievement.

“This year the SNP has secured our first two overall majorities in Dundee and Angus and the SNP has become the largest political party in 10 local authorities, far more than in 2007. That is a major step forward for the SNP and for Scotland.

“In 2007 we were the largest party in only 7 authorities and held no majorities.

“The SNP has won seats from Labour, from the Lib Dems and from the Tories in all parts of Scotland, urban and rural. We set ourselves the target of securing more councillors and we have met that target with around 60 extra councillors.

“This is a tale of two governments. The Lib Dems and Tories have had a disastrous day, feeling the full force of the Scottish people who have rejected their damaging austerity agenda in favour of the SNP locally and nationally.

“And in Labour’s heartlands it is clear that Fortress Glasgow is no more.  Labour’s campaign stalled in Glasgow with not a single extra seat while the SNP increased our number of councillors and pushed Labour to the wire in their heartland.

“This is a major success for the SNP, and I look forward to working with all councillors across the country to see Scotland take another step forward.”

Scottish results number of seats per party, change from 2007 in brackets

Aberdeen: NOC no change
Con 3 (+1), Lab 17 (+9), Lib Dem 5 (-6), SNP 15 (0), other/ind 3 (-4)

Aberdeenshire: NOC no change
Con 14 (+1), Green 1 (+1), Labour 2 (+2), Lib Dem 12 (-9), SNP 27 (+8), other/ind 11 (-2)

Angus: SNP GAIN from NOC
Con 4 (-1), Lab 1 (-1), Lib Dem 1 (-1), SNP 15 (+3), other/ind 8 (0)

Argyll and Bute: NOC no change
Con 4 (+2),  Lib Dem 4 (-2), SNP 12 (+3), other/ind 13 (-3), vacant 3
(People in Dunoon will not vote for their three councillors until next Thursday.  The death of a candidate led to the election being postponed.)

Clackmannanshire: NOC no change
Con 1 (0), Labour 8 (+1), Lib Dem 0 (-1), SNP 8 (+1), other/ind 1 (-1)

Comhairle nan Eilean: independent hold
Lab 3 (+1), SNP 7 (+3), other/ind 21 (-4)

Dumfries and Galloway: NOC no change
Cons 14 (-3), Lab 15 (0), Lib Dem 1 (-2), SNP 10 (0), other/ind 7 (+5)

Dundee: SNP gain from NOC
Lab 10 (+2), Con 1 (-2), Lib Dem 1 (-1), SNP 16 (+2), ind/other 1 (-1)

East Ayrshire: NOC no change

Con 2 (-1), Lab 14 (-1), SNP 15 (+1), ind/other 1 (+1)

East Dunbartonshire: NOC no change
Con 2 (-2), Labour 8 (+2), Lib Dem 3 (0), SNP 8 (0), other/ind 3 (0)

East Lothian: NOC no change
Cons 3 (+1), Lab 10 (+3), Lib Dem 0 (-4), SNP 9 (0), other/ind 1 (0)

East Renfrewshire: NOC no change
Con 6 (-1), Lab 8 (+2), Lib Dem 0 (-1), SNP 4 (+1), other/ind 2 (-1)
Independent/Other 2 (2, -1)

Edinburgh: NOC no change
Con 11 (0), Green 6 (+3), Lab 20 (+5), Lib Dem 3 (-13), SNP 18 (+5)

Falkirk: NOC no change
Con 2 (0), Lab 14 (0), SNP 13 (0), other/ind 3 (0)

Fife: NOC no change
Con 3 (-1), Lab 35 (+11), Lib Dem 10 (-11), UKIP 0 (-1), SNP 26 (+4), other/ind 4 (-2)

Glasgow: Lab hold
Con 1 (0), Green 5 (0), Labour 44 (+5), Lib Dem 1 (-5), SNP 27 (+7), other/ind 1 (-7)

Highland: NOC no change
Labour 8 (+2), Lib Dem 15 (-6), SNP 22 (+4), other/ind 35 (0)

Inverclyde:  NOC no change
Con 1 (0), Lab 10 (+2), Lib Dem 2 (-1), Liberal 0 (-1),  SNP 6 (+1), other/ind 1 (-1)

Midlothian: Lab lose to NOC
Green 1 (+1), Lab 8 (-2), Lib Dem 0 (-2), SNP 8 (+2), other/ind 1 (+1)

Moray: NOC no change
Con 3 (+1), Lab 3 (+1), SNP 10 (0), other/ind 10 (-2)

North Ayrshire: NOC no change
Cons 1 (-1), Lab 11 (-1), Lib Dem 0 (-2), SNP 12 (+4), other/ind 6 (0)

North Lanarkshire: Lab hold
Lab 41 (?), Lib Dem 0 (-1), SNP 26 (+5),

Orkney:  NOC no change
ind/other 21 (0)

Perth & Kinross:  NOC no change
Con 10 (-1), Lab 4 (+1), Lib Dem 5 (-2), SNP 18 (0), other/ind 4 (+2)

Renfewshire:  Lab gain from NOC
Con 1 (0), Lab 22 (+3), Lib Dem 1 (-2), SNP 15 (-2), other/ind 1 (+1)

Scottish Borders:  NOC no change
Con 10 (-2), Lib Dem 6 (-4), SNP 9 (+3), other/ind 9 (+3)

Shetland:  NOC no change
ind/other 22 (0)

South Ayrshire:  NOC no change
Con 10 (-2), Lab 9 (+3), SNP 9 (-1), ind/other 2 (+2)

South Lanarkshire: NOC no change
Con 3 (-4), Lab 33 (+1), Lib Dem 1 (-1), SNP 28 (+4), other/ind 2 (+2)

Stirling:  NOC no change
Con 4 (0), Green 1 (+1), Lab 8 (0), Lib Dem 0 (-3), SNP 9 (+2)

West Dunbartonshire: Lab gain from NOC
Labour 12 (+4), SNP 6 (-3), Scottish Socialist Party 1 (+1), other/ind 3 (-1)

West Lothian: NOC no change
Con 1 (0), Lab 16 (+2), SNP 15 (+2), other/ind 1 (-3)