Scottish Election 2021 results: Alex Salmond cuts lonely figure with clipboard in hand

Alex Salmond cut a bit of a lonely figure at the Aberdeen count – and it seemed it was more than social distancing at play.

The former first minister was once king at these occasions, but on Friday night he was without an audience and his hold apparently lost.

Observing the count with a clipboard in hand, no count or recount could alter the conclusion that his new political party Alba had performed weakly.

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Alba Party leader Alex Salmond. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Alba took just 743 votes (2.4 per cent) in Aberdeen Donside where the SNP firmly held the constituency.

In his natural stomping ground of Buchan and Banffshire Coast, Alba did better with 1,135 votes – or 3.43 per cent.

But as he padded back and forth between the counting tables to his small band of loyal supporters, including his sister Gail who came with a Marks and Spencers bag of treats, there was little good news to share.

Alba Party leader Alex Salmond with his colleagues as votes are being counted for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections at the P&J Live/TECA, Aberdeen. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Mr Salmond's subdued demeanour reflected the entire atmosphere of this count at the P&J Arena – a cavernous labyrinth of a place that has a capacity of 15,000.

Adverts for RuPaul's Drag Race World Tour and a stadium gig by Alfie Boe hints at the kind of fare that might usually fill this room.

On Friday it felt like an empty airport with walking distances to anywhere akin to those experienced at Terminal 5.

A laser pen might have been handy to help make contact with the candidates.

The usual cut and thrust of the count, where agents and party supporters cluster and jostle for gossip and tips, was thrown out as the pandemic slowed the pace – dare say excitement – of this democratic event.

But as voter turnout rose across the North East, it is clear the pandemic has influenced how much we care about who is left at the controls.

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