North East Scotland - Region Overview

The North East covers four Council Areas in full – Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Dundee City. It also includes a very small chunk of Moray around Buckie and Cullen. The original version didn’t have that bit of Moray but did include the area around Keith, and was also lacking the northern chunk of Angus including Forfar. Formal administrative boundaries aside, you could think of this region as consisting of three very distinct areas.

There’s the big cities, with Aberdeen the 3rd largest in Scotland and Dundee the 4th. As major industrial centres, both cities experienced substantial growth through the early 20th century, but have very individual stories. Dundee has followed the Glasgow route of industrial decline followed by cultural revival, whilst Aberdeen is more akin to Edinburgh in terms of affluence, having been the centre of Scotland’s oil boom. Both have had areas of strength for Labour, though Dundee has a long history of SNP success whereas Aberdeen saw stronger Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Then there are the coastal burghs, stretching up from the likes of Arbroath and Montrose in Angus through Stonehaven, Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Banff in Aberdeenshire, and terminating in that Moray chunk at Buckie. All of these have strong ties to Scotland’s fisheries, and have been SNP-Conservative battlegrounds for decades.

The third and final area would be the rural farming inland. More than almost any other part of Scotland, rural Aberdeenshire is extremely well and densely populated. These are the areas that by the latter part of the 20th century were driving Conservative-Lib Dem contests.

By the 1997 election which eliminated the Conservatives across all of Scotland, the SNP had settled into dominance of Angus and the Banff and Buchan area, Labour commanded the big cities, and the Lib Dems held sway over rural Aberdeenshire.

This region saw one of the changes from the 1997 UK Election in terms of constituencies, as the Lib Dems also picked up Aberdeen South to give them three constituencies. Labour won four, and the SNP the remaining two. Despite the constituency distribution, the SNP had a clear lead in terms of the list vote, landing them four regional seats, whilst the other three went Conservative.


6 SNP (4 Regional, 2 Constituency)
4 Labour (all Constituency)
3 Conservative (all Regional)
3 Liberal Democrat (all Constituency)

One of the regions the Rainbow Parliament was more muted, 2003 saw the SNP gain Aberdeen North and Dundee East from Labour, reversing their constituency totals. Whilst Labour picked up two regional seats to balance them out, the SNP’s loss of support saw them only win a single list seat this time. The space vacated by the SNP went to the Greens, which was the requisite Rainbow diversity, whilst the Conservatives held steady on three.


5 SNP (4 Constituency, 1 Regional)
4 Labour (2 Constituency, 2 Regional)
3 Conservative (all Regional)
3 Liberal Democrat (all Constituency)
1 Green (Regional)

2007 brought further constituency success for the SNP, winning Gordon from the Liberal Democrats and Dundee West from Labour, giving them six constituencies to two and one, respectively. Though the Lib Dems made up their loss on the regional list, Labour didn’t. The Conservatives lost one of their seats and the Greens dropped out, whilst the SNP picked up a second list seat.


8 SNP (6 Constituency, 2 Regional)
3 Labour (2 Regional, 1 Constituency)
3 Liberal Democrat (2 Constituency, 1 Regional)
2 Conservative (all Regional)

In their already remarkable 2011 majority, the SNP really swept the board in the redrawn North East region. Not only did they will all ten constituencies, but such was their strength they won a list seat as well. With Labour on three regional seats and the Conservatives on two, it was effectively the Lib Dems who lost out, winning only a single list seat whilst being wiped out of the constituencies.


11 SNP (10 Constituency, 1 Regional)
3 Labour (all Regional)
2 Conservative (all Regional)
1 Liberal Democrat (Regional)

What goes up must come down, the saying goes, and that proved true for the SNP in the North East at the last election. Facing somewhat resurgent Conservatives, though the SNP maintained their clear lead in the region, they lost Aberdeenshire West to their foes, as well as too many list votes to keep that seat. The Conservatives also managed to win four of the regional seats, with Labour dropping to two and the Lib Dems remaining on one, whilst the Greens had a narrow miss.


9 SNP (all Constituency)
5 Conservative (4 Regional, 1 Constituency)
2 Labour (all Regional)
1 Liberal Democrat (Regional)

Aberdeenshire West is a highly marginal seat, and if the SNP deliver on recent polling then it’s one they are in with a shot at winning. If the Conservative revival had kept pace, seats in Angus and Aberdeenshire may have been within their grasp, but it currently seems unlikely.

When it comes to list seat changes, Labour’s dismal polling means they are facing the prospect of losing one of their seats, which could be gained by the Greens on a good day for that party, or by the Conservatives as compensation for losing their constituency.

Although the SNP have been polling higher than their 2011 result, bear in mind their vote began to redistribute from the North East at the last election, when they suffered an 8.1% drop in regional vote versus a 2.3% drop nationally. As such, they might struggle to replicate their previous feat of winning a list seat and every constituency.

Speaking of redistributed votes, the Lib Dems might need to watch out here too, as this isn’t an area they have a Westminster constituency, which likely means it hasn’t been receiving influxes of cash and campaigning lately. Just like the South in 2016, if they aren’t careful they could lose this seat despite holding up well nationally.

North East Scotland - Overall Regional Results

Total MSPs Elected 2016


9 SNP (all Constituency)
5 Conservative (4 Regional, 1 Constituency)
2 Labour (all Regional)
1 Liberal Democrat (Regional)

Changes to MSPs since 2016


Conservative Regional MSP Alex Johnstone sadly died in December 2016. He was replaced by Bill Bowman

Conservative Regional MSP Ross Thomson resigned after being elected as MP for Aberdeen South in June 2017. He was replaced by Tom Mason .

SNP Constituency MSP for Aberdeen Donside Mark McDonald was suspended in November 2017 then resigned from the party following a sexual harrassment scandal. He has since continued to sit as an Independent .

Regional List MSPs Elected 2016


#1: Conservative - Alex Johnstone
#2: Labour - Jenny Marra
#3: Conservative - Ross Thomson
#4: Conservative - Peter Chapman
#5: Labour - Lewis MacDonald
#6: Liberal Democrat - Mike Rumbles
#7: Conservative - Liam Kerr

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Regional List Candidates 2021

Aberdeen Central

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Kevin Stewart
Majority: 4349 (16.3%)
Turnout: 46.9%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Aberdeen Donside

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Mark McDonald
Majority: 11630 (37.5%)
Turnout: 50.7%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Aberdeen South and North Kincardine

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Maureen Watt
Majority: 2775 (8.5%)
Turnout: 54.2%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

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Aberdeenshire East

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Gillian Martin
Majority: 5837 (16.8%)
Turnout: 55.5%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Aberdeenshire West

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


Conservative: Alexander Burnett
Majority: 900 (2.6%)
Turnout: 59.1%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Angus North and Mearns

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Mairi Evans
Majority: 2472 (8.4%)
Turnout: 54.3%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

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Angus South

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Graeme Dey
Majority: 4304 (13.5%)
Turnout: 56.7%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

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Banffshire and Buchan Coast

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Stewart Stevenson
Majority: 6683 (23.0%)
Turnout: 48.7%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Dundee City East

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Shona Robison
Majority: 10898 (38.4%)
Turnout: 51.6%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

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Dundee City West

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Joe Fitzpatrick
Majority: 8828 (31.8%)
Turnout: 51.7%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC