HELENSBURGH’S MP has said he’s “delighted” to have secured a fourth term representing the area at Westminster – but admitted it was an “extremely dark” General Election for his party.

Brendan O’Hara was declared MP for the newly-enlarged seat of Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber on Friday morning.

But he is now just one of nine SNP members left in the House of Commons after the party’s vote across Scotland collapsed in the face of Labour’s landslide victory.

Mr O'Hara said he planned to make his constituents’ issues his priority, now that he represents the "safest" SNP seat in the country.

He secured victory by a margin of 6,232 votes ahead of his nearest challenger, Amanda Hampsey for the Conservatives.

He told the Advertiser: "As well as being absolutely delighted to have been re-elected for a fourth term as the MP for this constituency, I am also honoured and deeply humbled at the level of support I received from the people of Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber.

"On what was an otherwise extremely dark and disappointing night for the SNP, there is no doubt that Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber provided a rare, but extremely welcome, ray of sunshine.

"And given what was going on all around us, the fact that we held this seat with a majority of more than 6,000 votes, making it the safest SNP seat in the country, is testament to the incredible efforts of SNP activists all across this vast constituency.

"My priority since first being elected in 2015 has been to put the interests of my constituents ahead of anything else, and I will continue to do exactly that."

The result was declared by returning officer Pippa Milne at the counting centre at the Lochgilphead Joint Campus at 6.42am on Friday.

Although his vote share was down 9.5 per cent compared to the last Westminster election in December 2019, Mr O'Hara still won relatively comfortably with 34.7 per cent of the vote – and actually increased his majority by 4.3 per cent.

Conservative candidate and Oban area councillor Amanda Hampsey was second with 9,340 votes – a 20.8 per cent share of the total – and claimed a “split in the pro-UK vote” had allowed Mr O’Hara to “win by the back door”.

But in line with the collapse in her party’s vote across Scotland and the UK, the Tories’ vote share was down 13.7 per cent on 2019.

Labour's Hamish Maxwell came third with 8,585 votes, a 19.1 per cent share – up 12.1 per cent in a constituency where the party has never been a front-runner.

He was followed by Alan Reid for the Liberal Democrats on 7,359 votes (16.4 per cent) – up 2.3 per cent on his, and his party’s, performance four-and-a-half years ago, though still a long way short of winning back the seat he represented, as Argyll and Bute, for 14 years.

Melanie Hurst, for Reform UK, took 3,045 votes, a share of 6.8 per cent – enough to retain her £500 deposit.

Independent Tommy Macpherson was not so lucky, with his 941 votes representing just 2.1 per cent of the total.

The turnout of 45,078 represented 63 per cent of all those eligible to vote, down more than 8 per cent from the last election.

Although predictions varied widely on how the SNP and Labour might perform in Scotland, almost all the opinion polls forecast an SNP victory in the seat.

In the end, Helensburgh and Lomond became the last bastion of SNP representation at Westminster across the central belt, with the party wiped out in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the surrounding urban areas as Labour retook many of the former strongholds it had lost to the SNP in 2015.

Councillor Hampsey said: “I am extremely proud of the positive campaign I fought across Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber.

"My focus was on local people, local places and their priorities being delivered on.

"My team and I spoke to thousands of voters across the constituency and listened to the issues that mattered to them.

"Obviously I am disappointed that I have not been elected to serve the communities I call home as their MP, which would have been the honour of my life.

"It is unfortunate that a split in the pro-UK vote has let an SNP MP win by the back door.

"I congratulate Brendan O'Hara on his re-election, but as a local councillor and resident I will be continuing to hold him to account to ensure he focuses and delivers on the issues that really matter to people living in Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber."

Mr Reid, for whom this was a third unsuccessful attempt to win back the seat for the Lib Dems after being ousted by Mr O’Hara nine years ago, said: "I would like to thank everybody who voted for me in the General Election.

"I congratulate Brendan O'Hara on his re-election and wish him well for the next five years representing Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber in the House of Commons."

And Ms Hurst said: "I am delighted with what Reform has achieved in the UK General Election. The amount of support from Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber I received during the campaign period was amazing and, for those I haven’t personally replied to yet, I will very soon.

"Thank you to everyone who voted for me and be assured that this is just the start for Reform in Scotland. From little acorns mighty oaks grow; next stop Scottish Parliament 2026."

Hamish Maxwell did not reply to a request for comment, but Labour councillor Fiona Howard said: "This has been an interesting result.

"Not much of a surprise that the SNP held the seat but, despite only joining the fray two weeks before the election was called, my colleague and friend Hamish Maxwell did an incredible job coming third just 765 votes behind the Tories and putting Scottish Labour well and truly back on the political map in Argyll and Bute.

"What this means in effect is that the next five years will not be any easier for our newly elected MP.

"He will need to produce the goods for the constituency or risk all in the next General Election."

Mr Macpherson, an independent councillor for South Kintyre, did not reply to a request for comment.

Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber result: B. O’Hara (SNP) 15,582 (34.7%); A. Hampsey (Cons) 9.350 (20.8%); H. Maxwell (Lab) 8.585 (19.1%); A. Reid (LD) 7,359 (16.4%); M. Hurst (Rfm) 3,045 (6.8%); T. Macpherson (Ind) 941 (2.1%). Maj 6,232 (13.9%).