Western Isles SNP supporters raised a celebratory glass at last week’s election count following the news that candidate Alasdair Allan had been returned as MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar for a third term.
After a long and demanding campaign the candidates gathered at Stornoway’s Lewis Sports Centre on Thursday night to hear the voters’ verdict.
The SNP contingent soon had cause to celebrate with the news that Mr Allan had polled 6,874 votes in comparison to his nearest opponent, Labour’s Rhoda Grant, who had gained 3,378 votes.
The Conservative candidate Ranald Fraser gained 1,499 votes, John Cormack of the Christian Party took 1,162 votes and Kenneth Macleod of the Liberal Democrats gained 293 votes.
It was a solid majority by Mr Allan, but not as spectacular as the 2011 result, when he managed to gain 8,496 votes.
The Gazette asked Mr Allan whether there was any disappointment or concern in party due to the SNP failing to win an overall majority nationally.
He said: “Quite the opposite - nationally the SNP won more votes on the constituency vote than ever before - over the million, and we won more constituency seats than ever before as a result.
“We have been in Government for nine years and somehow we still have far more seats than when we went into Government in 2007.”
He added: “The Scottish Parliament’s voting system makes it extremely difficult for any one party to have an overall majority, and yet we came within a couple of seats of doing so. We now have more than twice as many seats as our nearest competitor party nationally.”
Of his own decreased majority he pointed to the high turnout for the SNP, saying: “The election result last time was so massively high for the SNP (65 percent of the vote) that beating that one was never really possible.
“Also the fact that there were five candidates this time, rather than four last time, made a smaller share of the vote almost inevitable.
“The SNP still polled much better in the Western Isles than the SNP did nationally though, and got more than all the other four candidates here put together. Labour’s vote was down, and depending on how you look at it, this was their worst result in the islands since either 1974 or 1924.”
Now that the voting is over Mr Allan is keen to get on with the work at hand and deal with the concerns raised by voters during the campaign, he said: “The delay in CAP payments was certainly an issue raised throughout the campaign, and like the Government I have not sought to excuse the delays this year.
“As always, transport issues were to the fore, and the SNP has had a positive record in extending RET to inter-island ferries, building new vessels and making improvements to many services. But there is a lot more to do in the future, and I will be meeting with communities about what improvements they would like to see.”
Other issues to deal with as he starts his third term are the further roll-out of superfast broadband to all island premises.
He revealed: That is something I will be meeting the Government about soon, to get an idea of how quickly we can fill in more of the broadband gaps in the islands.
“And I want to get more detail on how insulation measures can be focused on island house types so we can begin to address the shameful level of fuel poverty here.
“Meanwhile an early priority will be pursuing the UK government over the need for an interconnector.
“These are just a few of the issues that are going to be at the top of my intray,” he concluded: “I am planning to get round as much of the islands as I can over the coming weeks. It’s a real honour to do this job, and I am looking forward to getting stuck into the work of MSP again.”
Pictured is the SNP group following the news from the election count which saw Mr Allan secure his third term as the Islands’ MSP.