A night of shocks as Tories hit SNP with triple whammy

Scottish Conservative David Duguid said the Tories were "in good shape" ahead of the Banff & Buchan announcement.
Scottish Conservative David Duguid said the Tories were "in good shape" ahead of the Banff & Buchan announcement.

The usual bravado and confidence of the SNP was decidedly lacking on Thursday night as it quickly became apparent that things weren’t quite going to go their way.

Initial indications that the SNP was on the ropes came when Alex Salmond’s election agent - former Peterhead councillor Stuart Pratt - said he was “less than confident” at the result, several hours before the announcement arrived.

The SNP's Eilidh Whiteford arrived at the count in less than positive mood, stating it was "quite unlikely" she would retain her seat.

The SNP's Eilidh Whiteford arrived at the count in less than positive mood, stating it was "quite unlikely" she would retain her seat.

This was in stark contrast to Tory David Duguid who said he was “in good shape - as good a shape as we can be” when asked how he was feeling prior to the count getting underway.

Mr Duguid said: “We have worked hard, now the polling has finished there’s nothing more we can do but just wait.

“The postal vote is looking good but we have done all we can.

“I am very grateful and proud of my team. It’s been a great experience and I’ve made lots of friends and worked with a lot of wonderful people.”

The SNP campaign team members nervously check their phones as the await the results from Aberdeenshire.

The SNP campaign team members nervously check their phones as the await the results from Aberdeenshire.

As the night wore on, an air of excitement spread around the hall, with whispers that it could be a good night for the Tories - a great night in fact, with perhaps the possibility of a real upset.

As results from elsewhere started to roll in, it became clear that there was something big happening and that Theresa May’s call to hold a snap General Election in the hope of strengthening her hand had somewhat backfired.

The SNP contingent at the AECC meanwhile, were looking glum as they checked their phones and tallied up their predictions.

West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine was the first of the Shire votes to be announced, with sitting MP Stuart Donaldson a major target for the Tories.

He had been slightly more upbeat than his counterparts, telling us: “It’s looking better than expected. Most people predict this seat will turn blue, but I think it will be a lot closer than many people think.”

Unfortunately for Mr Donaldson, that was not the case, with the Tories taking their first scalp of the night with a victorious Andrew Bowie taking the seat with a 7,950 majority.

All attention then focused on Gordon, where former First Minister Alex Salmond was defending an 8,000-plus majority from 2015.

The vote was announced with a media frenzy as word spread that the former MP for Banff and Buchan could be out.

And just moments later the rumour was confirmed with Tory Colin Clark, who had been confident and calm throughout the process, taking the biggest scalp of the night with a 2,607 majority to boot.

All eyes then turned to Banff & Buchan, where Eilidh Whiteford had romped to victory in 2015 with a whopping 14,000 majority.

Could it be a triple whammy for the Tories?

Eilidh certainly hadn’t appeared confident when she arrived at the AECC, telling us: “I think, looking at the swings in other parts of the area, it’s quite unlikely I’ll keep the seat.”

And her gloomy prediction proved correct as the Tories triumphed again, with David Duguid taking the seat with a 3,693 majority, ending the SNP’s 30-year reign in Banff and Buchan.

In his victory speech, Mr Duguid MP said: “I’d like to thank everyone and pay tribute to Eilidh Whiteford, who has served the last seven years as my MP, for her service to Banff and Buchan and congratulate her on getting her Bill on violence against women through parliament.”

Thanking his agent, campaign manager, the Banff and Buchan team and his wife Rose, the MP added: “I am proud and honoured to serve Banff and Buchan, part of the beautiful country that I was brought up in and I’m looking forward to getting to work in this new job and working for everyone in this constituency.

“I’d like to thank all who voted for me and all who are here tonight to support me.”

Magnanamous in defeat, Eilidh Whiteford congratulated David Duguid on his victory and wished him well in his new role.

“I would like to thank my tremendous campaign team and give special thanks to my staff who have worked for the people of Banff and Buchan day in, day out and for whom elections are inevitably a very unsettling time.”

Eilidh paid tribute to her husband, Peterhead councillor Stephen Smith, whose support for her was,”beyond all measure”.

She also thanked the people of Banff and Buchan saying: “It’s been a privilege to serve this constituency and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you in Westminster.”

Commenting on the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London she added: “It’s more important than ever that we had a free and fair election. We have more in common than that which divides us regardless of our political differences.