Scottish local elections, 2012

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Scottish local elections, 2012
2007 ←
3 May 2012 (2012-05-03) → 2017

All 1,223 seats to 32 Scottish councils
  First party Second party
  Alex Salmond (crop).JPG JohannLamontMSPgreenjacket.jpg
Leader Alex Salmond Johann Lamont
Party SNP Labour
Leader since 3 September 2004 17 December 2011
Last election 363 seats, 27.9% 348 seats, 28.1%
Seats won 425 394
Seat change Increase62 Increase46
First preferences 503,233 488,703
First preferences (%) 32.33 31.39
Swing (pp) Increase4.48 Increase3.26

  Third party Fourth party
  RuthDavidsonMSP20120529.jpg Willie Rennie MP Liverpool.jpg
Leader Ruth Davidson Willie Rennie
Party Conservative Liberal Democrats
Leader since 4 November 2011 17 May 2011
Last election 143 seats, 15.6% 166 seats, 12.7%
Seats won 115 71
Seat change Decrease28 Decrease95
First preferences 206,599 103,087
First preferences (%) 13.27 6.62
Swing (pp) Decrease2.35 Decrease6.05

Scottish local elections 2012.svg

Colours denote the winning party with outright control

Scottish local elections 2012 (largest party).svg

Colours denote the party with the most seats

The 2012 Scottish local elections, were held on 3 May, in all 32 local authorities. The Scottish National Party (SNP) overtook Labour to win the highest share of the vote, and retained and strengthened its position as the party with most councillors. Labour also made gains, while the Liberal Democrats experienced meltdown, falling behind the Conservatives. For the first time since the introduction of the Single Transferable Vote system, the SNP won majority control of 2 councils, from no overall control. Labour also won majority control of 2 councils from no overall control, while retaining majority control over 2 councils.

Independent councillors retained majority control over the 3 island councils. The 23 other councils remained under no overall control.


The election was due to be held on 5 May 2011, but Scottish Ministers heeded the advice of the Gould Report and split the Holyrood and local elections - in order to avoid a repeat of the 2007 fiasco. These local elections were the second since the Single Transferable Vote (STV) was first introduced for the 2007 local government elections. This election was the first since the SNP won a majority in the Scottish Parliament. They were also the first local elections in Scotland since 1995 not to take place at the same time as a Scottish parliamentary election.

New eCounting system[edit]

In October 2010 a new company - Logica was awarded the contract for the vote counting system for the 2012 council elections, and since January 2011 testing has been under way to sort out many issues. On the 5 August 2011, A Dummy election was set up in Perth to test out new "eCounting" system, as part of robust test, in which 160,000 ballot papers run through the machine. This forms third stage of rigorous testing of the system in partition of the these elections.[1]

Party performance[edit]

Both the SNP and Labour performed well, increasing both share of the vote and their numbers of councillors. The SNP gained control of two councils from No Overall Control: Angus and Dundee. Labour gained majority control over two councils, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire, also from No Overall Control, and held on to their overall majority in both Glasgow and North Lanarkshire councils. The Conservative & Unionist Party lost significant ground, but did gain a seat in Argyll & Bute and managed to come third.

The Liberal Democrats continued to experience a political meltdown following on from the previous year's Scottish elections, losing 57% of their councillors. In one Edinburgh ward, Pentland Hills, Mike 'Professor Pongoo' Ferrigan who dressed as a penguin received 444 first-preference votes, 74 more than the Liberal Democrat candidate, Stuart Bridges, and 122 more than the Green Party candidate.[2] In Edinburgh, where the Liberal Democrats had previously been in a ruling coalition with the SNP, they lost 13 of their 16 seats. In the Fife Council ward of 'Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss Villages', the party's candidate, Lois Lothian, received just 21 votes.

The Scottish Greens boosted their councillor numbers from 8 to 14, including doubling their representation in Edinburgh (where they topped the poll in two wards for the first time) and electing councillors for the first time to Stirling, Midlothian and Aberdeenshire local authorities (note: Cllr Martin Ford, re-elected in 2012 as a Green, won in 2007 as a Liberal Democrat).

The Scottish Socialist Party held its sole seat, that of Jim Bollan in West Dunbartonshire. Meanwhile, the UK Independence Party lost its sole councillor in Scotland on Fife Council. Independent councillors retained majority control over the three island councils (Na h-Eileanan Siar, Orkney and Shetland).


Talks took place to decide who would control of the 23 remaining councils [3] This resulted in Labour taking control of Fife, East and West Lothian, Inverclyde and South Lanarkshire and forming a grand coalition with the SNP in the City of Edinburgh and an anti-Conservative alliance in East Renfrewshire.

The SNP took control of Clackmannanshire, North Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross and became the largest party in controlling coalitions in Argyll and Bute, Highland, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and East Ayrshire. They also joined the Scottish Conservatives in a coalition arrangement in Dumfries and Galloway.


Results to follow:

e • d Summary of the 3 May 2012 Scottish council election results[4]
Party First-preference votes Seats won
# % Swing (pp) # Net Gain %
Scottish National 503,233 32.33 +4.48 425 +62 34.75
Labour 488,703 31.39 +3.26 394 +46 32.22
Conservative 206,599 13.27 −2.35 115 −28 9.40
Independents 183,329 11.78 +1.27 196 +12 16.03
Liberal Democrats 103,087 6.62 -6.05 71 -95 5.81
Green 36,000 2.31 +0.11 14 +6 1.14
UKIP 4,289 0.28 +0.22 0 ±0 0.00
Scottish Socialist Party 4,183 0.27 −0.61 1 ±0 0.08
Borders Party 3,755 0.24 +0.12 2 ±0 0.16
Action to Save St John's Hospital 3,474 0.22 +0.03 0 −3 0.00
East Dunbartonshire Independent Alliance 2,973 0.19 −0.09 2 ±0 0.16
Glasgow First 2,547 0.16 +0.16 1 +1 0.08
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 2,485 0.16 +0.16 0 ±0 0.00
Christian Party 2,344 0.15 +0.12 0 ±0 0.00
All Scotland Pensioners Party 2,328 0.15 +0.08 0 ±0 0.00
Cumbernauld Independent Alliance 1,894 0.12 +0.02 1 ±0 0.08
Unionist 864 0.06 −0.09 0 ±0 0.00
Perth Independent Candidates 805 0.05 +0.05 1 +1 0.08
Solidarity 787 0.05 −0.81 0 −1 0.00
Socialist Labour Party 714 0.05 +0.03 0 ±0 0.00
East Kilbride Alliance 681 0.04 −0.03 0 ±0 0.00
Liberal 595 0.04 −0.02 0 ±0 0.00
National Front 369 0.02 +0.02 0 ±0 0.00
Pirate Party 292 0.02 +0.02 0 ±0 0.00
Christian Peoples Alliance 209 0.01 +0.01 0 ±0 0.00
Communist Party of Britain 94 <0.01 +0.01 0 ±0 0.00
Britannica 73 <0.01 0 ±0 0.00
Official Monster Raving Loony Party 67 <0.01 0 ±0 0.00
Total 1,556,773 100.00 ±0.00 1,223 +1 100.00

Note: The net gain/loss and percentage change in number of votes relates to the result of the previous Scottish local elections on 3 May 2007. This differs from the table in the reference above [5] which shows gain/loss relative to seats held at dissolution of Scotland's councils.


Council 2007 result Control before election
(change in control since May 2007, if different)
2012 result Details
Aberdeen City Liberal Democrat (LD + SNP) NOC (SNP + LD) Labour (Lab + Con + Ind) Details
Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrat (LD + Con) SNP (Con + LD + Ind) Details
Angus SNP (Ind + Con + LD + Lab) SNP Details
Argyll and Bute Independent (Ind + SNP) NOC (Independent minority) Independent (Ind + SNP) Details
Clackmannanshire Labour (Lab minority) NOC (SNP minority) SNP (SNP minority) Details
Dumfries and Galloway Conservative (LD + SNP) Labour (Lab minority) Details
Dundee City SNP (Lab + LD) NOC (SNP minority) SNP Details
East Ayrshire SNP (SNP minority) (SNP + Con) SNP (SNP + Con) Details
East Dunbartonshire SNP (Lab + Con) Labour (Lab + LD + Con) Details
East Lothian Labour (SNP + LD) Labour (Lab + Con) Details
East Renfrewshire Conservative (Lab + Con + Ind + LD) NOC (Lab + SNP + Ind + LD) Labour (Lab + SNP + Ind) Details
City of Edinburgh Liberal Democrat (LD + SNP) Labour (Lab + SNP) Details
Falkirk Labour (Lab + Ind + Con) Labour (Lab + Con + Ind) Details
Fife Labour (LD + SNP) Labour (Lab minority) Details
Glasgow City Labour NOC (Lab minority) Labour Details
Highland Independent (Ind + SNP)} NOC (Ind + LD + Lab) Independent (SNP + LD + Lab) Details
Inverclyde Labour (Lab minority) Labour (Lab minority) Details
Midlothian Labour (Lab minority) Labour Labour (SNP + Green + Ind) Details
Moray Independent (Ind + Con) SNP (Ind + Con) Details
Na h-Eileanan Siar Independent Independent Details
North Ayrshire Labour (Lab minority) SNP (SNP minority) Details
North Lanarkshire Labour Labour Labour Details
Orkney Independent Independent Details
Perth and Kinross SNP (SNP + LD) SNP (SNP minority) Details
Renfrewshire Labour (SNP + LD) Labour Details
Scottish Borders Conservative (Con + LD + Ind) Conservative (SNP + Ind + LD) Details
Shetland Independent Independent Details
South Ayrshire Conservative (Con minority) Conservative (Con minority) Details
South Lanarkshire Labour (Lab + LD + Con) Labour (Lab minority) Details
Stirling Labour (Lab minority) NOC (SNP minority) SNP (Lab + Con) Details
West Dunbartonshire Labour (SNP + Ind) Labour Details
West Lothian Labour (SNP + Ind) Labour (Lab minority) Details

Name of party shows the largest group within each council. However, the party names in brackets identify members of a coalition leading the council. In some cases, the largest party is shown, but is not in charge of the council.

Notes and references[edit]

Preceded by
Scottish local elections, 2007
Scottish local elections Succeeded by
Scottish local elections, 2017