The Scottish Liberal Democrats will seek to almost double their number of councillors at the 2027 local government elections, the party’s leader will announce on Saturday as he launches the campaign for a vote almost five years away.
The party increased its haul to 87 seats across the country in May’s local election, 12 months after dropping to just four seats at Holyrood.
Alex Cole-Hamilton will tell Lib Dem activists at their conference in Hamilton on Saturday he aims to win 150 seats in 2027 – launching the campaign to meet the target now.
The upcoming parliamentary elections, both at Westminster before early 2025 and at Holyrood in 2026, will benefit from the party starting its campaign more than five years before voters go to the polls, he will say.
The Lib Dems in Scotland have suffered since the Westminster coalition with the Conservatives, but Cole-Hamilton will say the party has been “winning people back, making real progress” during recent campaigning outings.
“So here’s the plan. We will lift our vote across the country and in each of the coming parliamentary elections by starting our campaign for the 2027 council elections right here, right now,” he is expected to say.
“We will grow from the 87 councillors we won in May and return 150 or more in just four years’ time.
“We’ve identified the wards, we just need people to fill them.
“And conference, my goodness, I’m going to start with those who didn’t quite make it over the line in May. They deserved to win, and win they shall.”
The strategy – which will be announced at Cole-Hamilton’s first party conference as leader – has been dubbed “150 rising”.
“Rising, because 150 council seats is just the floor of our ambition,” the leader is due to say.
“As new candidates emerge, as people hear our message, as we build that social contract, our ambitions will rise with our polls.”
He will add that some of the people attending the conference may be among those elected to town halls in 2027 and, referencing the 2008 film Taken, will tell attendees: “I have a very particular set of skills that I have honed over a long career.
“I will look for you, I will find you, and I will help make you a Liberal Democrat councillor.”