Elections: Tory Gains But SNP Claim Victory

5 May 2017, 19:21

ballot box

Nicola Sturgeon hailed the Scottish local elections as an "emphatic'' win for the SNP - despite the Tories gaining 167 seats and returning a record number of councillors.

The Conservatives returned 276 councillors north of the border, well over double the tally they secured in the last local government elections five years ago.

The SNP remains the largest party in local government in Scotland, with 431 councillors voted into office, up slightly from the total of 425 in 2012.

However, if voting patterns are similar at the General Election on June 8, the surge in Conservative support could see Ruth Davidson's party oust some SNP MPs from Westminster.

Labour slumped to become the third largest party in Scotland's town halls, and it was kicked out of power in its Glasgow heartland for the first time in almost 40 years.

A total of 262 councillors were elected on a Labour platform, although one of them had been expelled from the party after the ballot papers had been printed.

That compares to the 394 seats the party won in 2012. There have been boundary changes since the last vote.

A total of 172 independent councillors were elected, along with 67 Liberal Democrats and 19 Greens.

Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader and First Minister, said: "The SNP has won the election in Scotland and won it loud and clear.

"Thanks to the support of people across the country, the SNP has secured the largest number of councillors, the highest share of the vote - with an increase on the last result in 2012 and is the largest party in the most council areas.''

The Tories said they had made gains in every mainland local authority area, adding it was the first time since 1974 they had secured more councillors than Labour.

For the first time ever, the Tories had a councillor elected in Paisley's Ferguslie Park - the most deprived part of Scotland - while the party also increased its numbers in Glasgow to eight, after having had just one representative there previously.

Ms Davidson declared: "Today's result makes one thing crystal clear: all across Scotland, only the Scottish Conservatives have the strength to fight back against the SNP.

"We denied the SNP a majority at Holyrood last year.

"We have gained seats in councils all over Scotland today. We are now in a position to lead Scotland's fightback on June 8 in the General Election too.''

Ms Davidson said her party will "speak up for the millions of Scots who have had enough of the uncertainty and division of the last few years'' and "stand up for everyone who doesn't want a second referendum on independence''.

She pledged: "We will demand that politicians of all parties focus instead on the things that matter: restoring excellence to Scotland's schools and getting our economy back to health.''

Describing the results as a "clear and emphatic victory for the SNP'', Ms Sturgeon said: "SNP councillors and SNP councils will put their communities and the people of Scotland first.''

She also said they would be "an excellent springboard for the General Election'' in less than five weeks' time.

"Results across the UK show that now more than ever, Scotland needs strong SNP voices to stand up to a Tory Government that is set to impose more cuts and put thousands of jobs at risk,'' she said.

"It is clear from these results that the only party who can be that strong opposition to the Tories - in Scotland and across the UK - is the SNP.

"Where Labour let Scotland down by losing so many seats to the Tories, the SNP showed that the Tories cannot take Scotland's votes for granted.''

The SNP is the largest party in Scotland's four largest cities - Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

However the nationalists failed to win the overall majority they had wanted in Glasgow, returning 39 councillors there - four short of the total needed for control.

The STV system of proportional representation used to elect councillors in Scotland meant that no party has a majority in any of the 32 councils.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said it was "obviously a disappointing election'' for her party.

She added: "Across Scotland, there has been a clear backlash against the SNP's plans for a divisive second independence referendum and anger over the SNP's woeful record running our schools, hospitals and public services.

"The SNP's number one priority at this election was an overall majority in Glasgow, but Nicola Sturgeon's party has clearly fallen back significantly from the results in 2015 and 2016 in our largest city and in other communities across Scotland.''

Over the next few days, Labour "will be looking to build agreements with parties that will join us in opposing inflicting more austerity on communities and providing good quality local services'', Ms Dugdale said.

She added: "At the General Election on June 8, despite the Tory increase in vote share, these results show that only Labour can defeat the SNP in many first-past-the-post seats in Scotland.''

Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said his party had "made real progress'' after it increased its tally of councillors from 14 to 19.

He said: "Greens have expanded our support base across Glasgow and Edinburgh, and we're seeing significant breakthroughs in other parts of Scotland, getting our first councillors on to local authorities where those Green voices will bring fresh ideas to the table.

"It's brilliant to have broken through in Orkney and Highland, and to have retained our presence on Stirling and Aberdeenshire councils.

"Amid a backdrop of poor media interest in local government, a Tory Prime Minister calling a General Election in the middle of the campaign, and other parties' shameless attempts to make a local election about national issues, we've made real progress.''