Moray matters – our first gain in 2022!

I live in Elgin, Moray. Moray matters because our first gain of the 2022 elections was here. From my work I can just about see the Moray Council building just down the road. When I heard around my lunch break that we had a LibDem councillor elected unopposed, I could have ran down the street and celebrated like Martin Compston when Scotland qualified for the Euros.

Our first elected councillor in Moray since 2003. Yes, unopposed as only 3 people stood in a 3 member ward. However, for a region which currently has no local party branch, this is a brilliant result. A massive congratulations to our new councillor for Buckie, Christopher Price – our first Liberal Democrat Moray councillor in the multi-member ward era.

In 2007, there were 3 candidates for the Liberal Democrats in Moray. In 2012 our party only had 1 person standing. The number went back to 3 in 2017. In 2022, we have 6 candidates with each in a different ward – giving more people in Moray a bigger opportunity to vote LibDem than in any of these previous elections. It would be remiss to not mention that this is in massive part due to the hard work of our leader in Scotland, Alex Cole-Hamilton.  It was him that got me signed up to stand in my home, something I’ve never done before.

Looking across the wards and candidate lists, it’s a real shame there is no locally established campaign – due to the lack of a local party. In these wards there are real opportunities in the future to increase the Liberal Democrat representation in Moray council. My own ward, Elgin North, is one of the two Elgin wards. I’ve only lived a short time in Elgin, but the community here has made me feel at home. I joined the local rugby club, Moray RFC, back in January and my partner and I have been made to feel so welcome and at home at every possible opportunity – they’re good people here. Caring and kind, pillars of their local community.

Elgin as a town is growing, with more jobs being created locally in a variety of industries. As a result, more new homes are being built in large estates in different areas of the town (both north and south). This creates a whole new demographic of voters in an area which has traditionally been a Tory/SNP split. Moray, infact, is the home constituency of Scottish Conservative leader and jellyfish enthusiast, Douglas Ross. Moray also features an SNP minister – Richard Lochhead, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work.

There may be a lack of time and resources at the moment to mount a serious challenge in wards across Moray, however, this is still an interesting test for our party in the area this election. We can use the results this time as a gauge of just how much work needs done to improve our number of councillors, whilst also taking advantage of having our party represented on the council to springboard us to forming a new local party. A month ago we had no candidates and no local party. If after May we have a councillor and a local group ready to go for the next campaign, well, that to me feels like a massive victory and what could be the start of something bigger.

One thing is for sure, I really wasn’t sure about standing as a candidate before. Now I’ve caught the election bug. Next time, I won’t be so unprepared!




* Neil Alexander is a Scottish Liberal Democrat Executive Member. He is a former GCU and University of Greenwich graduate, currently studying part-time for a PhD in Sports Science (Rugby) and Video Game Design - whilst working full time as a Game Designer in Elgin.

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  • Brad Barrows 6th Apr '22 - 11:25am

    It appears that the SNP decided against standing two candidates in the erroneous belief that an existing independent councillor would be seeking re-election. Not only does this error mean that the Liberal Democrats have a seat on Moray Council but could also make the difference as to whether the SNP will be able to win majority control.

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Apr '22 - 2:14pm

    So much for the repeated claims of how great STV is because it gives more choice to the electorate and gets rid of “safe seats”…

  • Brad Barrows 6th Apr '22 - 3:15pm

    @Malcolm Todd
    Voters in most wards have plenty choice with 2548 candidates standing across 355 wards – an average of just over 7 per ward – with many having a choice between candidates standing for the same party. Edinburgh has a ward with 13 candidates…

  • Malcolm Todd 6th Apr '22 - 6:03pm

    7 per ward – that equates to about two per seat available doesn’t it? Not terribly impressive. In how many wards do voters actually have a meaningful choice between candidates of the same party, the main advantage claimed for STV over other forms of PR?

  • Brad Barrows 6th Apr '22 - 7:00pm

    @Malcolm Todd
    Your ‘two per seat’ point is not a fair way to look at the choice since voters only have one vote irrespective of how many seats are available. In practice, an average voter in Scotland will have a choice of 7 possible candidates to give their first preference vote to, with most wards having 2 SNP candidates (with 557 candidates over 355 wards). Labour and the Conservatives have 2 candidates in almost a third of all wards where they have candidates. The Liberal Democrats, I believe, have 2 candidates in 10 wards.

  • Neil – this article is really heart-warming. Great to see you getting stuck in up there!
    If you have 6 people willing to stand and one elected, you have the bones of a local party right there. With your enthusiasm and energy, my bet is you’ll have one set up in good time.
    In the awful years after 2010, when we were all but wiped out at every level, I said it would take time to recover. Maybe a decade. The Euro elections gave us a false boost – it came fast and disappeared just as fast. But the feeling right now is more real; stories like yours are what recovery is all about. I hope (and think) we’re in for some good results next month, and seeing growth in local parties – of all sizes – alongside that is so heartening.

  • Anne Simpson 8th Apr '22 - 8:52pm

    Neil, you need to gove some credit for those six candidates to the indomitable Sandy Leslie who worked his socks off to find candidates to stand in six of the wards in Moray, two of which are covered by the Banffshire &Buchan Coast local party, including the ward where Christopher Price is councillor elect. Good luck with your campaign in Elgin!

  • Neil Alexander 9th Apr '22 - 10:53am

    Anne I couldn’t agree more! That and a few others definitely deserve a lot of credit! Sandy has been incredible with me guiding me through all the paperwork etc too!

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