Neck and neck race but SNP finish strongly to take Western Isles seat

Angus Brendan MacNeil thanked voters for their support and his campaign team for their hard work following the announcement.
Angus Brendan MacNeil thanked voters for their support and his campaign team for their hard work following the announcement.

The race to the Na H-Eileanan Iar Constituency seat in the 2017 General Election turned into a nail biter with the main two candidates, the SNP’s Angus Brendan MacNeil and Scottish Labour’s Ealasaidh Macdonald, neck and neck at one point.

It seems the Scottish Labour camp, who reported a positive welcome to their case whilst speaking to voters on the campaign trail, were giving the SNP camp a real run for their money.

But as counting continued into the wee small hours it looked as if the SNP were starting to pull away, and it was the boxes from the Southern Isles arriving in the counting hall at 1.40am, which were to be the deciding factor.

As the piles of votes were emptied and sorted on to the tables the SNP camp looked a little more comfortable than earlier in the night when tense faces and subdued comments were the order of the day.

For Labour the mood of excitement from earlier in the count ebbed away.

At 2.15am it was all over, when Returning Officer Malcolm Burr announced the results, revealing that the SNP’s Angus Brendan MacNeil had been elected with 6013 votes.

Scottish Labour candidate Ealasaidh Macdonald had polled 5006, so not quite as close as the earlier indications, had suggested.

For the Scottish Conservatives the night proved to be a substantial success with 2441 votes taken and candidate Daniel McCroskie declaring their best result in 25 years.

The Christian Party’s John Cormack polled 1108, easily beating the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate James Paterson, who had a meagre 250 votes.

The result in the end was a solid majority for the SNP in the Islands, however not anywhere near their stunning success in the 2015 election, when Angus MacNeil polled 8663 votes and gained a 4300 plus majority over the Labour candidate.

It seems the tide may be on the turn in the Islands, perhaps Scottish Labour will be able to utilise the switch in the mood of the electorate at the 2017 election, as a springboard to success in the future.