The SNP’s Julie McKenzie is now the newest member of Argyll and Bute Council, elected on the fourth count of the Ward 5 by-election for the Oban North and Lorn seat.
Her 1,113 first preference votes compares with Iain MacLean’s win for the SNP with 1090 – also elected at count 4 in the last Ward 5 by-election in October 2014. This is a rise of 2.1%, bettered substantially by the Independent candidate and massively by the Conservative one.
The picture here is that while the SNP now have three of the four councillors for this area, one has been acquired by post election conversion [Iain Angus Macdonald who stood as an independent] and two by by-election -Iain MacLean and now Julie Mackenzie].
At the full formal election in 2012, they finished with one of the four, Louise Glen Lee at the second count behind independent Elaine Robertson. Glen-Lee, who had replaced the then late SNP Councillor Donald Macdonald – later resigned causing a-by election won by the late John MacGregorn an Independent wnose conseqence shock death cause a second by-election won by the SNPs Iain Maclean.
The reality is that the SNP vote has not increased by nearly enough to get mor than one candidate into this constituency at the next formal election in 2017; where, with the same electorate voting in by-elections for a single seat [as opposed to four seats in the full election], the largest party should always be able to add short term additional councillors though the chance of by-elections.
The first Green candidate, Pat Tyrrel, came fourth and last with 300 first preference votes.
Independent Kieron Green came third, by a whisker, and considering that he stood as an Independent this time [having publicly explained his reasons for leaving Labour] – and was responsible for the costs and conduct of his campaign – the rise in is his personal vote from 530 to 608 [14.7%] speaks strongly f0r the strength of his local support.
He was also the best performer in transfer votes, harvesting far more strongly than the winning SNP candidate at each elimination – another interesting indication of the nature of the SNP support.
While there was a virtual tie for second place between the Scottish Conservatives’ Andrew Vennard and Independent Kieron Green, with Vennard pipping it by 609 final first preferences votes to Green’s 608, the story of the night is the Scottish Conservatives’ substantial gain.
Andrew Vennard – who stood for the party in the last three by-elections in this ward, all in 2014 , coming last, second last and last respectively, took 415 first preference votes last time out in October 2014 – took 609 this time, a hefty uplift of 46.7%.
The fact that Vennard then took few transfers underlines the fact that he and the Conservatives directly attracted a much greater proportion at the very first hurdle, a significant development in line with For Argyll’s analyais.
This is indicative of the sort of pattern we expect to see in the Scottish Election in May 2016.
The Scottish Conservatives – a very different and more accessible party under the continuum of Annabel Goldie and Ruth Davidson – is the only party unequivocally in favour of continuing Scottish membership of the British union.
The Labour and Liberal Democrats have said they will allow their candidates and MSPs to campaign for independence.
The constitutional future of Scotanad remains THE core issue in this country; and the Scottish Conservatives sole unhesitating support for the Union makes the May 2016 vote a straightforward two-way choice:
- all supporters of independence can only intelligently vote for the SNP – no other party will be in a position to deliver indy for the foreseeable future;
- and all supporters of the Union can equally intelligently only vote Scottish Conservative – the only party that can be trusted to campaign for continuing membership and oppose independence.
The other clear differentiation between the Scottish Conservatives and all the other parties is on the issue of taxation.
- The SNP will have to raise taxes to pay for their extravagant proposals for a Scottish welfare regime.
- Labour has formally proposed a 1% hike in taxes to pay for improved major services like education.
- The Scottish Conservatives are committed to a low tax regime and support for the entrepreneurship that grows jobs and the economy.
The clarity of the Conservatives election campaign messages and the clear choice they offer between themselves and the SNP ae cetqi to see the party’s vote and number of MSP’s improve substantially – making it the main opposition to the SNP – a position some party needs to be able and willing to conduct effectively in the one party state for which Scotland is effectively headed – at speed.
While Andrew Vennard’s vote last night reflects his own standing, it also shows the growth in support for his party’s position – and that is a very significant change.