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Reform UK’s Highland general election showing reflects wider calls for electoral system revamp


By Hector MacKenzie

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Dingwall’s Highland Football Academy hosted the election count for Highland Council.Picture: Callum Mackay.
Dingwall’s Highland Football Academy hosted the election count for Highland Council.Picture: Callum Mackay.

THE success of the Reform party in becoming a significant force in UK politics was echoed in Highland constituencies - and has reignited calls for a shake-up of the electoral system.

While much attention in the Highlands focussed on changing allegiances in one constituency and the lengthy delay in declaring one of the seats, political number crunchers are now poring over the wider picture.

Sandra Skinner was the Reform UK candidate in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.
Sandra Skinner was the Reform UK candidate in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

Reform UK candidates were placed fourth in the Highland constituencies of Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire and Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

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LibDem Angus MacDonald wins Highland seat from SNP

Jamie Stone wins Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

Dillan Hill was the Reform UK candidate in Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire.
Dillan Hill was the Reform UK candidate in Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire.

Despite gaining less traction in Scotland – and failing to secure any parliamentary seats – Reform still won around a 7 per cent share of the vote north of the Border, half the UK-wide total.

That has reignited calls for electoral reform after what some critics have dubbed the “most disproportionate election in history”.

Reform leader Nigel Farage called the first-past-the-post electoral system “unfair” after his party took 14.3 per cent of the popular vote – making it the third biggest party by vote share – but won only five seats.

In the Highlands, Reform candidates outperformed the Tories and the Greens in both constituencies.

Dingwall’s Highland Football Academy hosted the 2024 election count. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Dingwall’s Highland Football Academy hosted the 2024 election count. Picture: Callum Mackay.

Angus MacDonald (Scottish Liberal Democrats) was elected for the Inverness, Skye, and West Ross-shire constituency with 18,159 votes - toppling SNP incumbent Drew Hendry (15,999 votes). Reform UK candidate Dillan Hill attracted 2934 votes, surpassing both the Tory and Green candidates.

Jamie Stone retained Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross with 22,736 votes, well ahead of his next nearest SNP challenger, Dr Lucy Beattie (12,247 votes). Reform UK candidate Sandra Skinner (3360 votes) polled ahead of Conservatives, Green and Alba, falling fewer than 50 votes behind the Labour candidate.

Darren Hughes, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, has been quoted as saying: ““This election has thrown the spotlight on to the electoral system as the result was the most disproportional on record. We have already had a growing chorus of calls for PR [proportional representation] in the aftermath.”

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