The resurgence of Aberdeen Labour councillors in the local election is “vindication” for the last 10 years of coalition with the Conservatives, it has been claimed.
The party reclaimed two seats lost in 2017 in Thursday’s poll, becoming the second largest political group behind the SNP.
It restored Aberdeen Labour’s share of seats on the local authority to 11.
Deputy group leader Ross Grant hailed “a good day for Aberdeen Labour”, adding: “We have a number of new councillors who will have different things to add not just to the group but also the council and their communities.
“That’s a particular strength.
“Our message about the cost of living was stronger than other political groups and in particular some of our pledges went down well on the doorstep.”
‘The cost of living crisis brought people back to Labour’
Their success came at the expense of Conservative hopes of growth, as the party was battered nationwide.
Kingswells, Sheddocksley and Summerhill was viewed as Aberdeen Labour’s best prospect ahead of polling day – and Kate Blake’s win over Tory John Wheeler proved her backers right.
“I am so excited to take this seat back for Labour,” she said.
“It’s just amazing. I am on a complete high.
“The cost of living crisis brought people back to us. People are really concerned. It’s been really difficult for people and this has played a real part in that.
“Things like public transport were also a major issue on the doorsteps as parts of the ward as completely underserved.”
New Bridge of Don Labour councillor aims to bring capital experience to Aberdeen regeneration
Bridge of Don’s newcomer, Nurul Hoque Ali, also thought it was the local manifesto wot won it.
He said: “Honestly, I put my win down to perseverance.
“We were out quite a lot, talking to people about the big issues: the energy transition, the free bus service (which down very well) and loads of domestic issues like potholes and petty vandalism.
“We were able to convince people we were able to deliver on these things.”
A former councillor in the London Borough of Newham, Mr Ali is keen to bring his experience in regeneration projects to discussions on Aberdeen city centre.
Describing some city centre sites as “frankly dilapidated”, he wants to influence the £150 million city centre masterplan project.
“I was deputy chairman of regeneration during great change in Newham, when the Royal Docks were being converted,” he added.
“Aberdeen has a lot of potential for redevelopment, not just in greenfield sites but brownfield too.
“There are a lot of sites in the centre of town that we really need to think how to use.
“I appreciate that the land is privately held but it’s not good for the city.”
Returning Aberdeen Labour councillors hold their own
And there were also strong showings for councillors standing for re-election, facing off challengers in a number of seats.
Those included in Lower Deeside – where Tauqeer Malik increased his first preference vote – and in Dyce, Bucksburn and Danestone.
A Conservative duo had been targeting a gain in the northern Aberdeen ward, but Aberdeen Labour stalwart Barney Crockett again increased his vote.
However, the lord provost was the party’s only candidate this time around – so benefitted from all Labour votes going his way, unlike in 2017.
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 do “some difficult things”.
He said: “I think people respond to people taking responsibility for running a city and not just thinking of their own party.
“Labour has shown that, done what’s best for the city and we have seen a reward for that.
“Becoming the second largest party is vindication for the last 10 years, very much so.
“As lord provost, you are always vulnerable as your focus is the city and not just your ward so often lord provosts find it difficult.
“So I think it’s particularly fortifying for me to have done so well.”