This election finally broke the trend of single-seat leads that had held through previous STV elections. Though they only increased their vote by a tiny amount, the SNP gained two seats to end up with 15 in total. That put them clear of Labour, who stood still on 12. That meant gains came at the Conservatives’ expense, as they dropped three seats and were left with 4 councillors.
Although the Greens again came narrowly ahead of the Lib Dems in vote share, they both ended up competing for Linlithgow. It was the Lib Dems that emerged victorious, benefitting from the retirement of the very long serving Conservative councillor, and electing their first ever West Lothian councillor. The same lone Independent then rounds out the council.
After the election, a Labour minority administration was formed.
Although all three Lothians have a degree of mining heritage, nowhere is that more evident than in West Lothian. I’ve been in or through practically every town and village in the place thanks to a previous boyfriend living in the area, and the “former mining community” vibes are extremely strong. As with many councils, the historic West Lothian differs somewhat from the modern, having lost Bo’ness to Falkirk, but gaining much of what is now Livingston, a major New Town, from Midlothian.
Like mining communities across the UK, West Lothian was strongly Labour for a very long time, with the party consistently holding the parliamentary seat. However, it was also an area of relative strength for the SNP, with then-leader William Wolfe coming within 5% of winning the seat in the October 1974 election. Though a UK-level victory would have to wait until 2015, the SNP won the Livingston seat at the Scottish Parliament in 2007, and have held both seats covering West Lothian since 2011.
The SNP tied with Labour on the district council in 1977, were the largest party in 1992, and otherwise a typically strong opposition presence in a Labour-controlled council. That relative nationalist success stood in stark contrast to long-serving local Labour MP, Tam Dalyell, an opponent of devolution who originated the famous West Lothian Question.