O’Hara returned to Westminster with increased Argyll and Bute majority

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Scottish National Party candidate Brendan O’Hara has been re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Argyll and Bute with an increased majority.

The Argyll and Bute UK General Election count began at Lochgilphead Joint Campus after polls closed at 10pm on Thursday December 12 and was carried out through the night, with the result declared at 5.45am on Friday December 13.

At the end of what can reasonably be described as a low-key constituency campaign in comparison to the rancour and division elsewhere in the country, Argyll and Bute’s electorate handed Mr O’Hara a majority of 4,110 votes over his nearest challenger, Conservative Gary Mulvaney.

Returning officer Cleland Sneddon declared the result as follows: Rhea Louise Barnes, Scottish Labour Party – 3,248; Gary Mulvaney, Scottish Conservative and Unionist – 16,930; Brendan O’Hara, Scottish National Party (SNP) – 21,040; Alan Reid, Scottish Liberal Democrats – 6,832.

The total electorate for Argyll and Bute was 66,525 with 48,192 votes cast. The turnout at the polls was 72.4 per cent. A total of 142 votes were rejected. Ten were rejected for voting for more than one candidate and 132 were unmarked or void for uncertainty.

A delighted Mr O’Hara said after the declaration: ‘My first priority, as it always has been, is the people of Argyll and Bute, and to make the case for the constituency.

‘I am very worried about the future of Argyll and Bute. We have a UK government that is hell-bent on Brexit. Boris Johnson, with his majority, will be looking to take us out of the EU as quickly as possible. A no-deal Brexit is still on the table and, after tonight, is looming large. We should all be very worried at that prospect.’

Asked how he felt, Mr O’Hara replied: ‘It hasn’t really hit me yet. I didn’t think the majority would be what it was, and I think this is a victory for the organisation of the SNP in Argyll and Bute.

‘I am very, very happy and very, very tired in equal measure.’

Mr Mulvaney, who received 954 more votes than in the 2017 election, commented: ‘I’m pleased our vote has increased, but I’ve felt like we have been swimming against the tide sometimes. I am delighted, however, that we now have a majority Conservative government. We need a strong Westminster government to get Brexit done and move forward.’

The counting continues apace

LibDem candidate Alan Reid was the constituency MP for 14 years from 2001 before being succeeded in 2015 by Mr O’Hara. Mr Reid said: ‘I am obviously disappointed not to have won but I would congratulate Brendan on a convincing victory.’

A newbie to the political scene, Scottish Labour candidate Rhea Barnes remarked: ‘It’s been a well-fought campaign conducted in a well-mannered way and I thank the other candidates for that, and I congratulate Brendan on his election as MP.’

Alongside postal votes and proxies, votes made their way across Argyll and Bute in ballot boxes transported by car, boat and helicopter to the Lochgilphead Joint Campus count centre.

Returning officer Cleland Sneddon at the podium

Returning officer Cleland Sneddon said: ‘We have a dedicated team of knowledgeable election staff which meant everything went extremely smoothly, despite the unique challenges involved in administering a count on this scale.

‘I would like to thank everyone involved for ensuring Argyll and Bute’s UK General Election count went so well.’