NOTE: Inverclyde East ward was uncontested, meaning no vote was held. This will impact vote share significantly. In 2017, Inverclyde East was a Conservative led ward.
Roughly equally sized gains for the SNP and Labour, giving both an extra seat, delivered a similar “wrong winner” result to 2017, as the SNP’s tally of 8 was still behind Labour’s 9. The Conservatives held both their seats, though one of those was in an uncontested ward. As they’d led that ward in 2017, this has a particularly significant impact on their vote share – swing in just the 6 contested wards was -3.3%. Those two gains had to come from somewhere else then, and both were the result of retirement.
The departure of a long-serving Lib Dem saw his successor fail to hold the seat, making this the first council since 1995 without any representation from that party. The other was very popular Independent Ronnie Ahlfeld, most of whose vote clearly moved to the Lynne Quinn, the ward’s other Independent. Alba had hoped to get one of their few high profile national figures into that ward, but only won a paltry 2.6% of the vote. With no Greens standing, Inverclyde is the only council never to have had a Green candidate at local level.
After the election, a Labour minority administration was formed. The Independent councillors supported the administration in the initial vote, but do not appear to be part of it.
Unlike many of Scotland’s council areas, Inverclyde doesn’t preserve or indicate a particular historic unit. The name is a relatively recent coinage for what is in effect West Renfrewshire. Situated on the Firth of Clyde, this area has a long maritime and industrial history, with the formerly separate towns of Port Glasgow, Greenock and Gourock having gradually grown into one another. It also includes smaller, and generally more affluent, villages such as Wemyss Bay, Inverkip and Kilmacolm.
As you’d expect from such an industrial area, the political tendency here was mostly towards Labour, although the Conservatives did win a wider western Renfrewshire seat in 1983 that excluded the urban core. That core remained with Labour in both parliaments right up until 2015 when the SNP picked Inverclyde up in their landslide, which they repeated locally at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.
Perhaps surprisingly however, Inverclyde was also long a Liberal Democrat (and predecessors) stronghold at local level. They were the primary opposition to Labour in the previous, identical, district except in 1977, when they won a majority. They’d again repeat that feat in the 2003 election, causing Inverclyde to stick out like a sore orange thumb in an otherwise red tinted Central Belt.