Now that the dust has settled on the Scottish local elections, we take a look back at the surprises thrown up by voters in Helensburgh and Lomond on polling day...

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IT used to be said that in certain constituencies in central Scotland they didn’t count the Labour vote, they weighed it.

That’s never been the case in Argyll and Bute, so I won’t be the only person to have been more than a little surprised at Fiona Howard’s election last week as a Labour councillor for Helensburgh Central.

(Having been on holiday in sunnier climes during the week of the election, I wish hereby to apologise profusely to all those in the hotel lobby who turned around with a start upon the sight and sound of a peely-wally Scotsman exclaiming "WHIT?" in a much-too-loud voice when he read the result for the first time on social media.)

Having spent altogether too long rummaging online in search of an archive of Scottish local election results, I *think* this is the first time since 1984's election to the old Dumbarton District Council that voters in Helensburgh have elected a Labour candidate.

Not that it was the only local surprise result: the unsuccessful bids by David Kinniburgh and George Freeman to win re-election will have raised plenty of eyebrows in Helensburgh and Lomond and beyond.

Helensburgh voting Labour isn’t exactly unknown of course. After all, Jackie Baillie has been the town’s constituency MSP since the Scottish Parliament was set up 23 years ago.

But the received wisdom has always been that much of the local Labour support at Holyrood elections is down to tactical voting in a bid to stop the SNP winning the seat - something which doesn’t apply at council level.

Does the fact that that view is widely held mean it’s accurate, though?

Yes, when you ask people to think of Helensburgh, many will conjure up a vision of tree-lined avenues and large houses where the residents aren’t generally known for backing candidates wearing red rosettes.

But Helensburgh, like any community, is a lot more complex than the briefest of glances might suggest.

I’m not going to second-guess why people who backed the Labour candidate last week did so, but there are parts of Helensburgh Central – parts which people outside the town may not know about, and which some folk closer by perhaps have a tendency to forget – where the things that, historically at least, have led people to vote Labour very much still apply.

And that’s to say nothing of Fiona’s qualities in her own right.

Fiona may be a former Advertiser editor, but I know she would not expect preferential treatment from us over the next five years – and Fiona, her fellow councillors, and supporters of other parties and none, should be assured that she won’t get it.

But the election of a Labour councillor will certainly add a fascinating dimension to the affairs of Argyll and Bute Council over the next five years.