SNP triumphs in Donside as Labour comeback fails to materialise

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   By G.A.Ponsonby

The SNP has held the constituency of Aberdeen Donside after candidate Mark McDonald emerged the winner over his main rival, Labour’s Willie Young.

The final result, on a turnout of just under 39%, saw Mr McDonald win for the SNP with a reduced majority, 2025 ahead of the Labour candidate.  The Lib Dems took third just ahead of the Conservatives in fourth.

The result was expected with Mr McDonald holding on to the seat which the SNP won in 2011 with a comfortable 7000 majority.  Bookmakers had made the SNP candidate the 33 to 1 ON favourite to retain the seat for his party.

Aberdeen Donside was held by the SNP in 2011 with 14790 votes – a historical high – against Labour’s 7615 votes, thanks to the popularity of Brian Adam, whose untimely death from cancer triggered the by-election and who had a high personal vote in the area.

This time around the SNP secured 9814 votes, 42% of the total and down 13% on their 2011 result.  However the nationalists will be reasonably happy with the outcome given they are midway through their second term in office.  Labour’s total was 7789 which was 33%, up nearly 5% on the 2011 result.

The Lib Dems took 1940 votes and the Tories 1791 – both around 8%, with UKIP back in 5th on 1128 votes.

The result was slightly disappointing for Scottish Labour with the party hoping the by-election would see evidence of a comeback following the party’s humiliation in 2011.  The 9% swing was less than hoped, and more to do with an erosion of the SNP’s historic high 2011 total than an increase in the Labour vote.

The outcome was also disappointing for right-wing party UKIP, whose party leader had enjoyed significant media coverage in the run-up to yesterday’s vote.  Although increasing its vote share, the party didn’t manage enough and lost its deposit.

Mark McDonald, the area’s new MSP who gave up his list seat to stand as a candidate, paid tribute to his former colleague Brian Adam, whose untimely death from cancer led to the by-election.

In his acceptance speech, Mr McDonald said: “I will work hard to earn trust, as Brian Adam did.  I cannot help thinking of Brian Adam at this time.”

The post mortems will surely now begin with Scottish Labour’s campaign likely to face serious scrutiny.  The party were cock-a-hoop after last year’s local elections, where, although losing the popular vote to the SNP nationally, they performed better than expected in key areas.  The last local government elections in 2012 suggested Labour were only five per cent behind the SNP in the Donside area, however compared to 2012 the party’s support has dropped slightly.

There will be concern that the tactic of making independence a central issue of their campaign, which saw Sir Alex Ferguson urge voters to send a pro-Union message, failed to result in any significant increase in support for the party.

In an interesting side bar to the election result, a survey carried out by the SNP who asked over 19,000 people how they planned to vote in the independence referendum, showed 34% saying they would vote Yes, 29% saying they would vote no and 37% who said they hadn’t yet made up their mind.