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Recap: The losers and survivors in the ‘brutal game’ of north-east elections 2022

Local elections count for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire was held at P&J Live on May 6.
Local elections count for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire was held at P&J Live on May 6.

While some candidates were met with applause and cheer on the podium at P&J Live yesterday, others went home rather disappointed and gloomy after the Scottish local elections.

And of course, there are quite a few former hopefuls – now official councillors – that certainly spent the night celebrating.

As the elections have now drawn to a close, let’s take a look at the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire candidates who lost their seats in the council chambers, and those who managed to retain them despite all odds.

Scottish local elections: The winners take it all, the losers standing small

After a long day of counting votes – and prayers – a number of council stalwarts were forced to bid farewell to public life and leave the venue merely as residents.

While the election race was full of surprises, one of the most unexpected events was probably the shock defeat of Aberdeenshire Council’s former deputy leader Peter Argyle.

Liberal Democrat Peter Argyle lost Aberdeenshire seat at the Scottish local elections. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.
Liberal Democrat Peter Argyle lost Aberdeenshire seat at the Scottish local elections. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

Mr Argyle, who also led the local authority’s Liberal Democrat group, had been hoping to secure his seat in the Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside ward.

But after a close race with fellow candidates Geva Blackett, Sarah Brown and Anouk Kloppert, he had to draw the curtain on his 23-year-long career as a councillor.

Moving further up to the coast of Fraserburgh, Brian Topping will also have to sail off to other future endeavours after failing to keep his seat in the council chamber.

Brian Topping at the Scottish local elections.
Brian Topping. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

Mr Topping held dreams of continuing his 38 years of service to the local community as an Alba councillor, after resigning from the SNP last year. However, he was faced with “total devastation”, securing only half of his 2017 tally.

All of the other Alba candidates standing in the north-east – and in Scotland as a whole for that matter – shared the same fate and suffered the ultimate defeat, leaving this year’s elections without a single seat in local authorities.

There were casualties in Aberdeen too, with Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats gaining at the expense of the Tories.

Commissioning committee convener John Wheeler and fellow Conservative Freddie John fell as party fears for their seats were realised.

‘I’m a survivor – keep on surviving’

And while some may have fallen victim to the “brutal game” we call local elections, others have magically managed to avoid the axe, by an inch, and come out as winners.

Although it might have initially seemed rather unlikely, Marie Boulton successfully retained her Lower Deeside seat within Aberdeen City Council.

Lower Deeside councillor Marie Boulton celebrates the successful defence of her Lower Deeside seat at the Scottish local elections. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.
Lower Deeside councillor Marie Boulton celebrates the successful defence of her Lower Deeside seat at the Scottish local elections. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

Her previously steady position in the local authority had been rocked by several stormy months prior to the election as she quit her role as lead of the city centre masterplan.

She later led the fight against her administration cohorts to waylay the permanent pedestrianisation of Union Street and decided to try to earn residents’ support as an independent.

But she managed to emerge from yesterday’s Scottish local elections as a survivor, with a fifth round win.

Speaking to The Press And Journal, she said: “I’m obviously really pleased and really grateful to the people in my ward, who have re-elected me. And now it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.”

SNP candidate John Cooke bowed before the audience after winning at seat in Ward 10: Hazlehead, Queens Cross and Countesswells. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

Meanwhile, SNP candidate John Cooke is now also out of the woods after cementing his place in Hazlehead, Queens Cross and Countesswells.

He told us: “It was a marginal seat last time and I was fully expecting it to be nip and tuck this time.

“To be honest, I never try and second guess what’s going to happen or worry too much about the numbers, I just get on with it. It’s like a football manager saying ‘We concentrate on the next game and worry about the rest at the end of the season’.”

Aberdeen Labour’s Dyce, Bucksburn and Danestone councillor Barney Crockett. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

Another risky move that eventually paid off was Aberdeen Labour’s decision to put forward only one candidate – Barney Crockett – for Dyce, Bucksburn and Danestone.

The lord provost thrived on the podium at P&J Live as he swooped all Labour votes for the ward in a considerably successful night for the political group, which is now the second largest behind the SNP.

The local party heavyweight, who earlier this week faced criticism over a Russian flag in his official portrait, told The P&J his party’s turn in fortunes was recognition for having had to “some difficult things”.

Jim Gifford came out as one of the winner in the fight for East Garioch after “taking a chance” at a new ward as an independent. Picture by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

And last – but not least – former Aberdeenshire Council leader Jim Gifford passed the elections test with flying colours after taking a “calculated risk” to stand in a new ward.

Stepping into the fight for the East Garioch ward as an independent candidate for the first time, Mr Gifford secured yet another win in his long career as a councillor.

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