Aberdeen and Moray Council By-Election Results, 21/11/19

We bring our busy November to a close with two by-elections in the former Grampian (gone but not forgotten) region. These were two very different elections, one right in the heart of Scotland’s third city, the other with a much more rural flavour. With the general election looming ever closer, I again remind folk that these are not predictive of results for MP seats that could see turnout twice as high.

Aberdeen’s Torry/Ferryhill was first to declare, following hot on the heels of last month’s Bridge of Don by-election. The stakes were a lot lower in this one, as Bridge of Don had ensured the current administration was secure. An SNP resignation had prompted this one, and I thought it pretty likely they’d come out on top.

That’s exactly what happened, in a result broadly in line with what we saw in last week’s by-elections. First preferences in full;

  • SNP – 1618 (43.2%, +11.8)
  • Conservative – 972 (26.0%, +2.1)
  • Labour – 395 (10.6%, -12.8)
  • Liberal Democrat – 315 (8.4%, +3.3)
  • Green – 304 (8.1%, +3.3)
  • Independent – 86 (2.3%)
  • UKIP – 53 (1.4%, +0.5)
  • Note: A different independent candidate won 10.4% here in 2017.

The SNP saw a huge jump in their share of the vote, whilst Labour’s fell dramatically. The Lib Dems and Greens recorded identical increases, and there were smaller gains for both the Conservatives and UKIP. Independent Simon McLean managed to do three times as well here as he did in Bridge of Don last month, despite having had two runs at that ward and just one here. If this was repeated in 2022 this would be a delightfully chaotic contest, with the SNP winning 2 seats, the Conservatives 1, and a Game of Transfers between Labour, Lib Dems and Greens for the final one. Anyway, future wonderings aside, votes at the final round in stage 6;

  • SNP – 1989 (53.1%, +12.4)
  • Conservative – 1151 (30.8%, -0.7)
  • Didn’t Transfer – 603 (16.1%, -11.7)

Also doing a lot better on transfers here for the SNP, managing to make quota with the Conservatives still in, whereas in the 2017 recalculation they wouldn’t even have hit quota after everyone was eliminated.

Our final by-election for 2019 was Moray’s Keith and Cullen ward. Independent councillor Ron Shepherd’s resignation prompted this one, where despite an SNP lead in first preferences, the Conservatives would have come out on top for a single seat in 2017. Their margin was very thin, so I had this one down as a toss up.

The Conservatives come out in front here, managing to ensure the SNP didn’t win all five of the party-political by-elections this month. First preferences in full;

  • Conservative – 1142 (41.5%, +8.8)
  • SNP – 1047 (38.1%, -1.6)
  • Independent (Barsby) – 349 (12.7%, +3.1)
  • Liberal Democrat – 212 (7.7%, +7.7)
  • Note: Ron Shepherd won 18.0% here in 2017.

On the face of it this is a pretty big contrast with the other by-elections of the month, though it’s also the only one without Labour or Green candidates. A big boost for the Conservatives put them ahead of the SNP on first preferences this time, whilst returning independent Rob Barsby also managed to improve on his 2017 share. Since the Lib Dems weren’t on the ballot last time it’s impossible to say for sure how much of their vote share is “new” support, but it’s likely to be a reasonable chunk given recent trends.

As this was a hand count, they didn’t need to go all the way to eliminating every candidate. Votes at final round in stage 3;

  • Conservative – 1339 (48.7%, +2.5)
  • SNP – 1184 (43.1%, -0.2)
  • Didn’t Transfer – 227 (8.3%, -2.3)

Although substantially closer run than its Aberdeen counterpart, the Conservatives nonetheless opened up a wider gap than last time following transfers, mostly from fewer people not transferring at all.

And that’s it! 2019’s by-elections, all over and done with! We’ll take a look at the sum of all 14 next month when I do my 2019 in Review posts.