Team SNP was in good spirits throughout the Scottish election count for Argyll and Bute constituency at Lochgilphead Joint Campus.
This relaxed mood was justified as there was unlikely to be a shock here, Michael Russell had held the seat in 2011 with 50 per cent of the vote.
Across the room it was a different story for Labour and its candidate Mick Rice. By 1am he was saying the count was going ‘as expected’ and Labour were going to look to next year’s council elections to rebuild. He said: ‘We didn’t expect to win but hopefully we can push our ideas forward and concentrate on the council elections next year.’
He added: ‘It was hard to muster up any great any enthusiasm for a campaign you’re not expected to win.’
The most likely challenger to the SNP was Alan Reid of the Liberal Democrats. He had been a popular MP for Argyll and Bute until the election in 2015, he commented: ‘It’s been a good campaign.’
Argyll and Bute tends to be one of the latest constituencies to declare due to the logistics of getting ballot papers from the islands to the count. When the last helicopters had delivered their boxes the final count could get underway.
It was a little after 6am when returning officer Sally Louden announced the result. Michael Russell had won with 13,561 votes or 45.83 per cent of the vote which was a slightly reduced vote share.
Liberal Democrat’s Alan Reid was second with 7,583, just over a quarter, of votes. A close third was the Conservative candidate Donald Cameron with 5,840 votes, 19.74 per cent of the total votes. Fourth was Mick Rice for Labour with 2,492 vote which is 8.45 per cent of the vote. Turnout was 60.98 per cent which was higher than the Scottish average of 55.6 per cent.
Mr Russell said he was ‘delighted’ to continue to represent Argyll and Bute and was thankful that voters had again put their trust in him. He said: ‘Our campaign was fought on education, health and better connectivity, things like better broadband. The SNP has delivered for Argyll and Bute and will continue to deliver.’
Second placed Mr Reid admitted he was disappointed not to have won: ‘I thought we had a chance but we got a good clear second and ran a good campaign.’
He added ‘With that kind of majority there isn’t really anything you could have done differently in the campaign’. When asked about his future Mr Reid hinted at standing in the council election next year saying ‘it’s one option’.
Donald Cameron said he had hoped to beat Mr Reid into second place but that was not to be. Mr Cameron will be taking a seat at Holyrood, however, having got in on the Highlands and Islands regional list.
In a short speech Mr Rice assured voter that Labour would ‘struggle on and succeed.’
The Highlands and Islands list, which is allocated using proportional representation, sees three conservatives, two Labour, one Green and one SNP member elected.