1994 Scottish regional elections

Regional elections were held in Scotland on 5 May 1994, as part of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. These were the last elections before 29 new mainland unitary authorities, established by the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, came into effect. The councils up for election were last contested in 1990 Scottish regional elections, and vote and seat changes are compared to the 1990 results.

1994 Scottish regional elections

 1992 5 May 1994 (1994-05-05) 1995 

453 councillors on 12 Regional Councils in Scotland
  First party Second party
Leader John Smith Alex Salmond
Party Labour SNP
Leader since 18 July 1992 22 September 1990
Seats won 220 73
Seat change 3 31
Percentage 41.8% 26.8%
Swing 2.2% 5%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Jim Wallace John Major
Party Liberal Democrats Conservative
Leader since 18 April 1992 28 November 1990
Seats won 60 31
Seat change 20 21
Percentage 12.2% 13.7%
Swing 4% 5.5%

Colours denote the winning party with outright control

Results by ward



As these were the last elections to the Regional Councils, which were to be abolished within the next two years, the election was seen as a somewhat pointless exercise as the elected representatives would have minimal time to introduce any policies before powers were transferred to the new unitary authorities. Nevertheless, voters still saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate the popularity of John Major's incumbent Tory Government, which saw the Conservatives lose 21 seats, and be replaced by the Liberal Democrats as third largest party by number of seats.[1]


A record number of 1522 candidates stood for election across Scotland, including a new high of 341 women candidates. Turnout stayed almost the same from 1990 at 45.6%, a decrease of 0.3%. The Conservatives' vote share decreased by 5.8%, to give them their worst ever performance at a local election, with only 13.7% of the vote. Labour retained their position as the largest party, down slightly from the previous election. The SNP made large gains of almost 5%, mainly at the expense of the Conservatives, as did the Liberal Democrats, who increased their vote share by 3.7%. Independent candidates won the most votes in the Highland, Border and Dumfries & Galloway regions, despite having lost up to 9% of the vote in some areas.

Regional Trends

Labour held Strathclyde, Lothian, Central and Fife Regions, while Independents took a majority on Orkney, Shetland, Highland and the Western Isles councils, as well as taking the most seats on Borders and Dumfries and Galloway councils. As in 1990, no party won a majority on Tayside and Grampian councils, with the SNP overtaking Labour to be the largest party on the former, and the Liberal Democrats winning a plurality of seats on the latter.

National results

Summary of the 5 May 1994 Scottish council election results[1][2]

e  d 
Parties votes % Seats
Labour 704,60441.8220
SNP 458,95126.873
Conservative 234,84013.731
Liberal Democrats 208,34912.260
Independent 80,0924.265
Independent Labour 4,0641
Communist 1,8391
Ind. Liberal Democrat 8851
Liberal[note 1] 01
Scottish Militant Labour 11,4760.70
People Pension Power 3130
Monster Raving Loony 1850
Natural Law 1240
Ind. Conservative 970
SDP 820
James Connolly Society 760
Doctor Slug Party 430
Scottish Republican Socialist 380
Scottish Christian Democratic 320

Results by council area

Council 1990 result 1994 result Turnout Details
Borders Independent No overall control 42 Details
Central Labour Labour 49.7 Details
Dumfries and Galloway Independent No overall control 47.9 Details
Fife Labour Labour 45.7 Details
Grampian No overall control No overall control 41.6 Details
Highland Independent Independent 45.3 Details
Lothian Labour Labour 47.8 Details
Orkney Independent Independent Details
Shetland Independent Independent Details
Strathclyde Labour Labour 44.4 Details
Tayside No overall control No overall control 45.5 Details
Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles) Independent Independent Details


  1. The Liberal candidate was elected unopposed


  1. "Scottish Regional Elections 1994" (PDF).
  2. Denver, David; Bochel, Hugh (Winter 2000), "The Forgotten Elections: The Scottish Council Elections of 1999", Scottish Affairs (PDF), 30, archived from the original (PDF) on 3 October 2011, retrieved 16 July 2011