Sunday, 22 April 2012

Scottish Local Elections 2012: East Ayrshire

East Ayrshire COUNCIL

2007 Results 
14 Labour
14 SNP
3 Conservative
1 Independent
(SNP minority administration)

17 Labour
17 SNP
9 Conservative
7 Independents
1 Lib Dem Prediction
SNP 14-16
Labour 13-15
Conservative 3

East Ayrshire Council takes in the towns of Kilmarnock and Cumnock and the surrounding areas, sharing borders with five other councils: South and North Ayrshire to the west; East Renfrewshire to the north; South Lanarkshire to the east; and Dumfries and Galloway to the south.  Kilmarnock is the largest town and also home of the council's headquarters.

The area is covered by two Holyrood constituencies - Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley, and Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley.  The former seat was gained by the SNP from Labour in 2007 (as Kilmarnock and Loudoun) by Willie Coffey, who then held it in 2012 with a majority just short of 6,000.  The other seat was gained by the SNP from Labour in 2011 by Children and Early Years Minister Adam Ingram with a majority over 2,000.

17 seats are needed for a majority in East Ayrshire, with both Labour and the SNP standing enough candidates to achieve this, and each only requiring three gains to do so.  The council is mostly split between those two parties as the Conservatives only have a small presence and the Lib Dems are only fielding a candidate for the first time.  Any resulting administration is likely to be either a majority or largest party minority due to the lack of other parties to work with.

Annick (3 seats)
2007 Result SNP / Con / Lab
Candidates Con / Ind / Lab / LibDem / SNP(x2)

Labour topped the poll here in 2007, but their vote evenly split between two candidates was only enough to get one elected.  This time, they've opted for just one candidate whilst the SNP have opted for two.  The Conservatives also have a decent vote here, though behind the other two parties.  The Lib Dem candidate is notable for being the first to contest a seat in East Ayrshire.

The Labour seat will be safe with only one candidate.  The SNP seat is safe too, whilst the Conservative seat is fairly safe with their vote being substantially closer to a quota in 2007 than a second SNP quota.  A hold for each party is most likely.

Kilmarnock North (3 seats)
2007 Results SNP / Lab / SNP
Candidates Con / Lab / SNP(x2)

An undernominated ward with the SNP guaranteed at least one seat as a result.  The SNP were well ahead in the vote here in 2007 anyway, with Labour in second place with just over one quota of first preferences.

Easy holds for the two SNP and one Labour seats.

Kilmarnock West and Crosshouse (4 seats)
2007 Results SNP / SNP / Lab / Con
Candidates Con / Ind / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

The SNP won nearly half the votes here in 2007, their candidates both being elected on first preferences alone.  Labour were well ahead of the Conservatives, but not by enough to keep out a Conservative candidate who won nearly a full quota themselves.

The two SNP seats should be safe along with one Labour.  There is an outside possibility of a Labour gain from Conservative, but the Conservative vote is still a lot closer to one quota than Labour are to two, so four holds seem likely again.

Kilmarnock East and Hurlford (4 seats)
2007 Results SNP / SNP / Lab / Lab
Candidates Con / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

A very undercontested ward with Labour and the SNP each assured one seat, although with the Conservatives being far behind quota in 2007 this seat is barely competitive at all.

Two SNP and two Labour holds.

Kilmarnock South (3 seats)
2007 Results Lab / SNP / SNP
Candidates Con / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

A 'wrong winner' result last time with SNP picking up two seats despite Labour having slightly more first preferences, mostly due to poor vote balancing by Labour.  Again, the Conservatives aren't competitive here.

The third seat will be close but on the general trend since 2007 the second SNP seat should be safe, so all three seats should again be held.

Irvine Valley (4 seats)
2007 Results SNP / Lab / Con / SNP
Candidates Con / Ind / Lab / SNP(x2)

Another undercontested ward, with one SNP seat guaranteed.    The same independent candidate stood in 2007 and won a small vote, so this is yet another ward that seems very uncompetitive.

Two SNP, one Labour and one Conservative holds.

Ballochmyle (4 seats)
2007 Results Lab / SNP / Lab / Lab
Candidates Con / Lab(x3) / SNP(x2)
(2008 By-election Labour hold)

Although there are six candidates for four seats, this ward is still undercontested as Labour are guaranteed at least one seat.  Labour won around two and a half quotas in first preferences last time while the SNP won one and a half, so the two are relatively close for their third and second seats respectively.  The 2008 by-election saw a small swing towards the SNP.

The Conservatives are out of contention here so with two Labour and one SNP seats likely safe, the real contest is for whether the SNP can gain a seat from Labour.  Based on the by-election result and the national swing since then, the final seat will be very close between the two, though the replacement of two incumbent Labour councillors with new candidates might just swing it for the SNP.

Cumnock and New Cumnock (4 seats)
2007 Results Lab / Lab / Lab / SNP
Candidates Con / Ind(x2) / Lab(x3) / SNP(x2)

A very strong Labour ward, with over three quotas of first preferences in 2007.  With their vote split three ways though, it may be easier for the two SNP candidates to squeeze through ahead of one of the Labour candidates on a relatively small swing, although the Labour candidates' votes were well balanced last time.

One SNP gain from Labour is a possibility, but the scale of the Labour vote here makes three holds look relatively likely, while the SNP should hold their current seat.

Doon Valley (3 seats)
2007 Results SNP / Ind / Lab
Candidates Con / Ind(x2) / Lab(x2) / SNP
(2009 By-election Lab GAIN from Ind)

A classic example of the dangers of a party overnominating, Labour won just short of two quotas of first preferences, but only managed to get one candidate elected with their vote split three ways.  The independent councillor passed away in 2009, resulting in a Labour gain in the ensuing by-election despite a reasonable swing to the SNP.  To further complicate this ward, the former SNP councillor Drew Filson is defending his seat as an independent after issues over a personal bankruptcy, with the SNP by-election candidate standing for them again now.

With just two Labour candidates this time, they both seem fairly safe to be returned.  The third seat will be a battle between Filson and the new SNP candidate, though this seems fairly certain to be held by the SNP.

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