THE Scottish LibDem leader has come under fire from polling experts after suggesting a recent council by-election was proof there is no desire for a second Scottish independence referendum.

Alex Cole-Hamilton took to Twitter to share the results of the recent Comhairle nan Eilean Siar by-election.

The Western Isles vacancy emerged when only one candidate came forward for the seat in the May elections.

The Sgìr’ Ùige agus Carlabhagh ward saw independent candidate Norman Macdonald secure a win with 35.4% of first preference votes, with the LibDems coming in second at 20.4%.

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Another independent took 3rd place with 18% of the first preference vote while the SNP received 15.3% and the Greens 9.1%.

Sharing a Ballot Box Scotland's tweet announcing the results, the Edinburgh Western MSP tweeted: “Still smiling about this. The people in Eilean Siar are ready for change.

“Clear that the latest push for independence is going well when the SNP barely scrape 15% in a key ward in a held parliamentary seat.”

But the polling aggregate account hit back at Cole-Hamilton, urging politicians not to use council by-elections as a national barometer on independence.

Replying to the party leader’s post, Ballot Box Scotland said: “Please don't make the first person I have to wag my psephological finger at and go 'you can't use individual council by-elections as a national barometer, never mind an Islands council by-election' in this council term a party leader, Alex!”

Pollster Mark McGeoghegan agreed, telling Cole-Hamilton he wouldn’t consider the council by-election a sign of national change.

He said: “The SNP won 19.2% of first prefs in Eilean Siar in 2017. They then won the 2019 GE there with 45.1% of the vote, and the 2021 Scottish elections with 51.4%. Voting for independents in local elections, and SNP nationally is the norm. I wouldn't consider this a sign of change.”

The politician replied to McGeoghegan: “I’m sure you find that comforting.”

McGeoghegan responded: “Given I don't have an interest either way, Alex, I don't feel much about it - your analysis just wasn't based on empirical fact.”

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McGeoghegan later reacted to the reply from the LibDem leader, saying: “Seriously?

“Twitter randoms and activists implying, or outright accusing, commentators/pollsters/analysts of compromised/biased analysis is par for the course. It's unbecoming of a supposedly serious leader of a political party.”

Scottish Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd said: “We could all take a lesson in losing confidently from the Lib Dems. Grateful they’re not winning - we’re all still paying the tragic price for their decisions when they were in government with the Tories.”

The Scottish MSP then linked to a BMJ report showing “worrying changes” in life expectancy in the age of austerity in a reference to the 2010 Tory/LibDem UK Government coalition.

A Scottish Greens spokesperson said: "Nobody can make clear the absurdity of the unionist position quite like Alex Cole-Hamilton.

"The people of Scotland have repeatedly returned pro-independence majorities to both the Scottish and UK Parliaments. Their democratic will must be fulfilled."