By-Election Preview: East Kilbride West (South Lanarkshire) 6th of July 2023

Ward Profile

Cause of By-Election

I have to start this piece with a little bit of an apology, as this by-election keeps passing me by. For one thing, I hadn’t initially spotted that SNP councillor for South Lanarkshire’s East Kilbride West Ward, Ali Salamati, had stood down. Only elected for the first time last year, his work has since taken him overseas frequently enough he seems to have decided he couldn’t continue doing the role of councillor justice.

For another thing, I usually have these preview pieces ready to go on close of nominations day, which was Monday the 5th of June. This has not been published on Monday the 5th of June. For some reason I’d got it into my head the by-election was a week later, and had earmarked some time this weekend to draft the preview. Whoops! I’m choosing to blame the fortnight of stunning weather melting my brain, we’re not meant to get this in Glasgow. But it’s here now!

Ward Details

East Kilbride West is one of 20 wards in the South Lanarkshire Council area, and one of 5 covering East Kilbride, electing 3 councillors at a full election. In addition to the Stewartfield, Westwood, Hairmyres and Philipshill areas of the town, the ward also includes the separate village of Thorntonhall. There were slight changes to the boundary here in 2017, losing a small portion around the Newlands area, but that will have had minimal impact.

For elections to the Scottish Parliament, the ward is entirely within the East Kilbride constituency, which the SNP have held since their 2011 landslide. In the UK Parliament it’s part of the slightly larger East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow seat, similarly held by the SNP since 2015. Both had previously been in Labour hands.

Electoral History

The first three elections in the ward all returned the exact same pattern of seats, with one apiece for the SNP, Labour and Conservatives. In 2007 though the Conservatives only won their seat by the skin of their teeth, beating the second Labour candidate by just two votes at the last stage. A by-election in 2010 after the Labour councillor was elected to the Westminster seat saw the party emerge victorious, though he’d go on to lose his seat to a party colleague at the full election in 2012.

2017 saw new councillors for Labour and the Conservatives, as the latter had been elected to Holyrood in the Central Scotland region in 2016. SNP councillor David Watson went on to leave the party in late 2018 after 26 years as a councillor, but then displaced the Conservatives for the first time as an Independent in 2022.

In terms of votes, Labour started with a lead in 2007 and at the 2010 by-election, before the SNP took a narrow edge in 2012. The Conservative share grew significantly over the period, enough that come 2017 they ended up in the lead, before losing almost half of their vote in 2022. Although that still put them ahead of their 2007 share, it wasn’t enough for a seat this time as preferences helped lift Watson past them.

Councillors and Key Stats

3 Councillors, in order elected:
🔴Labour: Monique McAdams
🟡SNP: Ali Salamati
Independent: David Watson
Change vs 2017: +1 Independent, -1 Conservative (David Watson elected as SNP in 2017)
Turnout: 50.9%
Electorate: 13319
Valid: 6709 (99.0%)
Spoiled: 70 (1.0%)
Quota: 1678


🔵Conservative: Ian Harrow
🟣Family: Denise Hay
🟤UKIP: Yvonne MacKay
🔴Labour: Monique McAdams
🟡SNP: Ali Salamati
🟡SNP: Craig Sloan
Independent: David Watson
🟠Lib Dem: Huaiquan Zhang

First Preferences
Transfers (single winner recalculation)
Two-Candidate Preferred



The Greens return to the ballot to give a full Holyrood 5 for this one, plus an Independent and Family Party candidate. There’s a mix of completely fresh faces from the Conservatives, Greens and Labour, plus some who contested other wards last year. Most of these were other parts of East Kilbride with the SNP (East), Independent (Central North) and Family (South) all having stood in the town, whilst the Lib Dem was a bit further afield in Larkhall.

🔵Conservative: Bill Dorrian
🟢Green: Cameron Eadie
🟡SNP: Robert Gillies
Independent: Kristofer Keane
🟣Family: Jonathan Richardson
🟠Lib Dem: Jake Stevenson
🔴Labour: Kirsty Williams


In 2022 terms, East Kilbride West is the only ward in the town that wouldn’t have been won by the SNP on a two-candidate preferred basis, instead being a relatively comfortable margin of 9.8% for Labour. Some of that may be due to the fact that this is overall the most affluent ward in East Kilbride, with a lot of Conservative votes still to transfer even after a significant decrease in their share.

It’s nonetheless just within marginal territory and a level that’d normally have me hedge my bets slightly and say it was “Likely Labour”. I am however taking into account the current political circumstances, which include the fact former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was arrested literally as I was writing this piece. Labour are doing generally well in the polls at the moment, and combined with by-election dynamics usually boosting them slightly, I think they go into this hands-down favourites to win to the extent I’d be stunned if the SNP came out on top.


Labour win.

2022 Results (Detailed Data)

Transfers (full election)
Results by Polling District
Second Preferences

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