Harry Hayfield’s guide to the Aberdeen, Donside Scottish Parliamentary By-Election

Harry Hayfield’s guide to the Aberdeen, Donside Scottish Parliamentary By-Election

Maps showing the area that Aberdeen, Donside covers (and how it fits into the Westminster Parliament)

Aberdeen, Donside is only the seventh constituency by-election to the Scottish Parliament since it was re-founded back in 1999 and in that time only one seat (Ayr in 2000) has changed hands. Aberdeen, Donside itself was only created for the last elections to the Scottish Parliament and is made up of the vast chunk of the Aberdeen North Westminster constituency and a piece of the Gordon Westminster constituency (and yet despite having a large part of a Labour seat and a small section of a Liberal Democrat seat, it is the SNP who are defending the seat following the death of Brian Adam, the sitting MSP).

How the votes have moved in Donside

Back in 1999 (when it was called Aberdeen North) the SNP managed to pull off a major suprise by bringing the Labour majority down to just 398 (1%) from the 10,010 majority (26%) that Labour had secured at the general election. This was a major scare for Labour who had held the seat since 1918 (and electing members including William Wedgewood Benn, the father of Tony Benn the former Labour MP for Bristol East and Chesterfield). As a result of that result, the SNP went in all guns blazing for the 2003 elections and were rewarded with a gain (but only by 457 votes (2%) on a swing of 2%) making it the third most marginal SNP seat in the Parliament. However, by 2007, any chance of a Labour gain was gone as the SNP held on and in a taste of the future there was an 10% swing from Lib Dem to SNP.

The first set of boundary changes for the Scottish Parliament were very kind to the SNP. The number of constituencies they won was unchanged at 21 (losing Govan to Labour but gaining Aberdeen Central from Labour) and in Donside saw their majority climb to 3,500 (13%) so that the 2011 result was pretty much a foregone conclusion, an SNP hold with a majority of 7,175 (27%) on a 7% swing from Labour to SNP as the SNP romped home with an overall majority.

However, since then the SNP group has suffered some defections. Bill Walker MSP (SNP, Dunfermline) was expelled from the SNP in April 2012 after allegations that his candidature form was incorrectly filled in and six months later both Jean Urquhart MSP and John Finnie MSP (SNP, Highlands and the Islands) resigned the SNP whip over the party’s change in its policy towards NATO. This means that the SNP have 64 seats at the moment and an SNP loss in Donside would see the SNP lose their overall majority (but still able to pass leglisation with the help of Margo McDonald MSP (Ind, Lothians) and the two Green MSP’s).


Mark McDonald (SNP), Willie Young (Lab), Ross Thomson (Con), Christine Jardine (Lib Dem), Rhonda Reekie, (Green), Otto Inglis (UKIP, Dave MacDonald (National Front), James Trolland (Scottish Democratic Alliance), Tom Morrow (Scottish Christian Party)

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