Tuesday, 28 January 2014

By-Election Preview: 30 January 2014

Moray Council; caused by the resignation of Independent councillor Anne McKay for personal reasons.

Cluny Square, Buckie
  © Copyright J. Thomas and licensed for
reuse under this 
Creative Commons Licence.
Moray district's third largest town (after Elgin and Forres), Buckie developed in the nineteenth century as a fishing port concentrating on shellfish.  The fishing industry is less important now, but related industries such as boatbuilding (the local shipyard is the main company refitting Britain's lifeboats) and the North Sea oil industry are still important to the local economy.  The ward named after Buckie, which returns three members to Moray Council, also includes the villages of Rathven and Findochty to the east.

At local council level Buckie's votes traditionally to go independents.  In the last first-past-the-post council election in 2003 independents won two of the wards covering the town, the other (Buckie Central) being won by Labour.   The introduction of PR in 2007 led to a shake-up in the town's representation, as the two independent councillors stood down and the Labour councillor was defeated, two new indies and the SNP candidate (who topped the poll) winning.  The SNP tried for two seats in 2012 and managed to increase their vote from 1.29 quotas to 1.80 quotas, but it wasn't enough to dislodge the two independent councillors who polled 1.91 quotas between them and were both re-elected easily thanks to favourable Conservative transfers.

With the combined independents polling 48% in 2012 to the SNP's 45%, this by-election is difficult to call.  There are two new independent candidates: Gordon Cowie is a member of Buckie community council and formerly worked on the roads for Moray council, while Fochabers-based Mark MacRae is a director of Buckie Thistle football club.  The SNP have put up their second candidate from 2012 Linda McDonald, wife of the ward's current SNP councillor, while the Tories have re-selected their 2012 candidate Margaret Gambles, from Keith.  Don't wait up all night for the result, as the count is taking place on Friday.

Westminster constituency: Moray
Holyrood constituency: Banffshire and Buchan Coast (North East Scotland region)
ONS Travel to Work Area: Moray
Postcode district: AB56

Gordon Cowie (Ind)
Margaret Gambles (C)
Marc MacRae (Ind)
Linda McDonald (SNP)

May 2012 result Ind 1205 (2 seats) SNP 1136 (1 seat) C 179
May 2007 result Ind 1575 (2 seats) SNP 1188 (1 seat) Lab 507 C 397

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