Holyrood 2016: Tories make North East inroads but SNP hold Aberdeen seats

The SNP's Kevin Stewart celebrates after being named MSP for Aberdeen Central. Picture: SWNS
The SNP's Kevin Stewart celebrates after being named MSP for Aberdeen Central. Picture: SWNS
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The SNP comfortably held onto Aberdeen’s three constituency seats despite Conservatives making seismic shifts in its support in the North East.

Kevin Stewart MSP took Aberdeen Central, Maureen Watt MSP returned to Aberdeen South and North Kincardine and Mark McDonald MSP was restored in Aberdeen Donside.

Mr McDonald described a “stunning victory” after taking a 55 per cent share of the vote putting him 11,630 votes clear of second place Conservatives.

Mr Stewart took 43 per cent of the vote and vastly increased his paper thin majority over Labour rival Lewis Macdonald to 4,349 votes. Previously, it sat at just 617.

READ MORE: Alison Campsie: Tories walking tall in North East

In the city, the Tory advance was most sharply felt in Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, where Maureen Watt’s majority dropped by 3,568 after Conservative Ross Thomson increased his vote by 19 per cent.

In 2011, his party came fourth in the polls in the seat.

The Aberdeen South shakeup was announced just shortly after it emerged neighbouring constituency Aberdeenshire West returned a Conservative MP for the very first time in one of the shock results of the night.

Landowner and businessman Alexander Burnett firmly ousted SNP Dennis Robertson after polling 13,400 votes, pushing the nationalist into secon place with 12,500.

Previously, Mr Robertson held 42 per cent of the vote in the constituency.

Ms Watt said it had become clear during the campaign that the Tories had gained an edge in the Shire.

She said: “It would appear that the collapse in Labour and Liberal Democrats mean that Conservatives have managed to come up.

“I think while we were out canvassing it was clear that the Tories were doing well. I think Ruth Davidson has run a good campaign, she gets a lot of publicity but the proof will be in the eating and seeing how well they perform in parliament.”

Ms Watt said her priorities included insuring the AWPR was delivered on time and on budget and retaining oil and gas skills in the North East.

Earlier Mr Thomson said it had been the most “exciting” campaign of his political career.

Mr Thomson, leader of the two-man Conservative group at Aberdeen City Council, said: “This election just felt different. It’s the optimism. We fought a really energetic campaign and Ruth has reinvogorated the party.

“On the doorsteps its felt different. It was the atmosphere. People were engaging with us, people wanted to hear from us. People wanted to actively engage with us. That has been amazing as we’re just not used to that.”

Mr Thomson said the main issue on the doorstep had been the constitution and the possibility of a second Independence referendum.

He added: “We heard from the people who voted no, people who don’t want to be dragged back to the devisiveness that it created and who felt that the result should be respected.

“People have a nervousness about another one happening in the next five years. That has genuinely dominated the campaign.

“Ruth is clearly the strongest person to tell Nicola Sturgeon that ‘no way’ are you having that second referendum.”

Former MSP Lewis Macdonald arrived at the count following the fight of his life.

He lost Aberdeen Central in 2011 to the SNP after 12 years in the seat - by just 617 seats. “It’s a number I know very well,” Mr Macdonald said.

But, despite the signposts to a major defeat, Mr Macdonald declared a victory for himself. He campaigned for Aberdeen to get a major trauma centre at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary amid an apparent slowdown from the SNP on their commitment to build on in the north east. With just two days to go to the polls, Nicola Sturgeon pledged it would be built.

Mr Macdonald said: “We have smoked them out and made them state it in public what their position is. They didn’t want to do it. Whatever else we have done in this campaign I think we made huge progress in securing health services for the north east. That is a result in itself.”

However, Mr Macdonald’s rival Kevin Stewart accused the Labour veteran as running a “negative” campaign - and scare mongering locals.

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