Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has hailed his party’s council by-election victory over the SNP.
Tory candidate Robin Kleinman gained the Dunblane and Bridge of Allan seat on Stirling Council from the SNP with 41% of first preference votes, with the party’s vote share increasing by nearly 11%.
SNP candidate Ahsan Khan was in second place with 26.9% of the vote.
Labour won 13.4% of the vote, while the Liberal Democrats took 8.9% and the Scottish Greens 8.7%. The Lib Dems and Greens saw their vote share decrease by 0.4% and 7.3% respectively.
Mr Khan, who met with SNP leadership candidate and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf on the campaign trail earlier this week, tweeted his disappointment following the result, saying it “wasn’t to be”.
The turnout was 38.1%, down 22.3% from the 2022 election.
The result means Stirling Council – a minority Labour-run administration – now has eight Tory councillors, seven SNP, five Labour, one Green and two independents.
Mr Ross hailed the result as a “terrific by-election win”, saying it shows only the Tories can stand up to the SNP.
He said: “My congratulations go to Robin Kleinman as our party’s newest councillor. I campaigned with Robin and I know he will be a fantastic councillor and a strong voice for the area he is proud to call home.
“Having gained this seat from the SNP and significantly increased our share of the vote, it’s clear people have strong faith in our party.
“They have also recognised that only the Scottish Conservatives have the strength to stand up to the SNP and hold them to account for their failings at all levels of Government.
“Labour are simply too weak under Anas Sarwar to stand up to the nationalists and their continued obsession with breaking up the United Kingdom at any cost.
“This by-election victory for the Scottish Conservatives – against the backdrop of the SNP’s bitter leadership contest – reaffirms that we are the real alternative for Scots who are tired of this out-of-touch and divided SNP Government.”
The by-election was triggered following the death of SNP councillor Graham Houston in December.
As polls opened on Thursday, Mr Yousaf urged voters to back Mr Khan.
He wrote on Twitter: “Good luck to @AhsanKhanSNP, if you live in Dunblane and Bridge of Allan vote for our excellent local candidate Ahsan Khan. I had the pleasure of meeting our brilliant activist team earlier this week, whatever the result thank you for all the hard work you have put in.”
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