A relatively poor election, perhaps surprisingly in the SNP’s case, for the two biggest parties here. Both lost councillors, with the SNP’s loss of one, down to 8, allowing them to take a seat lead over the Conservatives, who lost two and were left with 7. Although Labour’s overall vote didn’t change, the Conservatives did poorly enough that both of their losses went direct to Labour, giving them 6 seats.
Greens experienced a fair bit of growth in the wards they stood – muted overall gains are down to missing a full slate by two wards this time. That secured their single seat, but they missed out narrowly on the second they’d been gunning for. The council also has its first elected Independent of the STV era, a former SNP councillor in Stirling. Also a decent recovery for the Lib Dems, and although they didn’t amount to much, it’s worth noting this was the Scottish Family Party’s only full slate of candidates.
Following the election, Labour formed a minority administration.
As with many councils named for a former shire, Stirling isn’t quite a perfect reflection of the historic county. The modern Stirling council area effectively consists of the northern portion of traditional Stirlingshire, from Stirling itself in the east along through the valley of the Endrick Water south of the Forth as far as Loch Lomond, plus a large portion of what was once southwestern Perthshire most notably including Dunblane and Callander. That gives the area quite a stark contrast between the urbanised and somewhat industrialised east and the rural, farming west.
After some jostling between Unionists (precursors to the Conservatives) and Labour early in century, by the mid-30’s the Stirlingshire constituencies had settled into Labour areas. However, this likely disguised the fact the rural western portion was more strongly Conservative. When 1983 introduced boundaries based on the modern area, they’d hold the new Stirling seat until Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Forsyth was one of the Cabinet casualties in Labour’s 1997 landslide. Eventually, growing SNP strength here was evidenced by winning the Holyrood constituency in 2007, then obviously taking the Westminster equivalent in 2015. Conservative resurgence briefly turned the area blue in 2017, before losing heavily again to the SNP in 2019.
Those tight contests between the Conservatives and Labour were evident through the local elections too. The Conservatives had very narrow pluralities in the first two elections to the old district, then Labour won half the seats in the third and a majority in the fourth. The final two district elections saw both parties tied on half the seats, followed by a Labour majority in the first unitary election in 1995, a half-seat tally for Conservatives in 1999, and another Labour majority in 2003.