The Psephology of Scotland (3) – SNP – it could have been even better….

The SNP won 53 of the 73 FPTP seats in the Scottish Parliament. These are the other 20, with the winning party and the margin between them and the SNP. (From the BBC.)
Coatbridge and Chryston   2,741 Lab
Motherwell and Wishaw  587 Lab
Uddingston Bellshill   714 Lab
Glasgow Maryhill and S’burn   1,292 Lab
Glasgow Pollock     623 Lab
Glasgow Provan     2,079 Lab
Glasgow Rutherglen       1,779 Lab
Orkney   868 Lib
Shetland  3,328 Lib
Edinburgh North and Leith   595 Lab
Cowdenbeath    1,247 Lab
Ayr  1,113 Tory
Dumfrieshhire   4,274 Lab
East Lothian          151 Lab
Ettrick, Roxburgh & Ber’shre 5,334 tory
Galloway and West Dumfries     862 Tory
Dumbarton   1,639 Lab
Eastwood   4,885 Lab
Greenock and Inverclyde   511 Lab
Renfrewshire South   2,587 Lab

The SNP polled 902,915 constituency votes. If a specific switch from appropriate parties to the SNP in these constituencies of a mere 18,624 people had happened then the SNP could have won the lot…..remarkable – it’s Ireland in 1918….. without an Ulster.

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  • If wishes were horses …

    This ignores a whole herd of elephants in the room. The Labour vote, while lamentable by historical comparisons, held up at the 2010 level — and Scotland in the General performed better than the rest of the UK for Labour. Similarly, the Tory vote was resilient: it’s still around twice the size of Lib Dems. Aggregate the two (as “Union” parties), and they neatly equate tot the SNP’s 45⅓% of the constituency vote. The comparison with Ireland in 1918 is very iffy, with or without the Ulster dimension.

    The collapse of the Scottish LibDem vote (down 8¼% in the constituencies, over 6% in the regionals) transferred directly to the SNP). The SNP managed its regional vote astoundingly well: the other parties (Labour especially) won’t get cold-stunned twice.

    Now the pressure is on Salmond to deliver. He has fewer excuses this time round. The bigger they come, the harder they fall. In addition, I am a long-term believer in the elastic band theory of psephology: sooner or later there is a twanging bounce-back.

  • Dilettante

    Also, the thing that makes this completely different from Ireland 1918 is that the SNP made it explicitly clear that this was not a campaign on independent, and downplayed the constitutional issue whenever it was raised. Indeed, Labour’s shift to a constitutionally-focused campaign led to a small recovery in their numbers before polling day.

    Independent polling shows support for independence to be resolutely low, and the campaign he led means that Salmond does not derive a socialist mandate from these results. The only way this could be like Ireland 1918 is if that election had been won by the Irish Parliamentary Party running a ‘don’t talk about independence’ campaign.

    Beware wishful thinking and false parallels.

  • “it’s Ireland in 1918….. without an Ulster”

    That is a rather bold statement to make, given the facts.

    The SNP 2011 vote was about (in percentage terms) what it was in Ireland outside Ulster in 1918.

    The other thing to remember is that not all SNP voters want independence.

  • Dewi

    “Labour’s shift to a constitutionally-focused campaign led to a small recovery in their numbers before polling day.”
    No it didn’t.

    “The other thing to remember is that not all SNP voters want independence.”
    True – but voters for other parties do.

    . “The comparison with Ireland in 1918 is very iffy, with or without the Ulster dimension”.
    Sure – but striking on a FPTP basis.

  • Seymour Major @ 2:27 pm:

    Refer to one Brian Walker, Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland 1801-1922, and we find that SF took ⅔rds of the valid vote across all the constituencies they contested. You only make the neat equation of SF (1918) 46.9% ≈ SNP (2011) constituency vote of 45.4% by agglomerating all 103 Irish 1918 constituencies.

  • Master McGrath

    Let’s not miss the wood for the trees here.
    If we become TOO anally retentive about the fractions of percentages of the numbers here that is exactly what will happen.
    The result here is the thing to focus on and the impact that rsult will have on Scottish Politics.
    When Labour lost control at the beginning of the last Parliament the commonly accepted (and entirely complacent) view by the majority of Labour Party MSP’s and Labour party members was the minority Administration could not hold together and all that was needed was to sit tight and normal service would be resumed as soon as possible when the Administration and its shaky partners fell out.
    It simply did not happen like that and the SNP minority Administration lasted for the reason that it did not really do anything.
    Not that it did not do anything wrong but it really did not do much of anything that it could be blamed for., especially by a Labour Opposition that predicated everything on not being seen above the parapet as it dealt with the total loss of direction that it had in the aftermath the loss of Alexander as leader and then the knowledge that it was on a ship heading for the electoral equivalent of an iceberg.
    No one or anything wanted to push the political status quo into any development that would mean an election.
    The LibDems had no reason to think that they would improve with a new election and the Tories had a sustaining relationship with Salmond that works to deliver a lot of what they had a agenda promises.
    The Unions were and are no longer the force for blue collar politics and support that once they were and beside they cannot call strikes or show muscle any longer when they feel it might be called for and COSLA, the Leadership of the Local Authorities and for millennia in Scotland the guardian of Labour Opinion in Central Scotland no longer even to put pressure on the Finance Minister who imposed Council Tax maximums on them, all added up to the SNP managing not just to keep the ship afloat but to steer it past the iceberg.
    Helped enormously by the popularity of Alex Salmond as First Minister.
    But the most important factor was waht the SNP tapped into to win.
    They stole the Labour Clothes and ran away with them and re-invented themselves as the Left of centre alternative to the Labour monolith that now was being more and more seen as the problem,and not the solution, in Scottish politics.
    A tired worn-out cable of political chancers who had developed their own notions of their right to govern(shades of UUP in the past and now DUP and SF here perhaps in NI in the present and future) were seen as out of touch with people who had always voted on order in the past and the young who had no affiliation with the fights of the past, industrial and political, saw Labour as the establishment to vote against, or simply not vote for at all.
    Politics in Scotland now is all the more interesting as a result but the result of a Referendum should not be taken for granted here – breaking up the UK is an entirely different matter to simply giving the ruling elite (Labour) the Red Card.
    It is all to play for yet.

    At the last election

  • Dewi

    True Malcolm
    Here’s Nic Whyte:
    My point was the scale of the FPTP victory 53 out of 73 cf. Sinn Féin’s 73 out of 105. Strikingly similar seat ratio.

  • I have to admit my remedy for anal retention is a bottle of Red Cab, preferably in a supermarket 3 for £12 offer — just to make absolutely sure.

    Equally I’m not into excessive partisan abuse (unless I’m dealing with a Lib Dem). I’ve been in politics long enough to know that your opponents are across the chamber, but your enemies are behind you. Enoch was a right old bugger, but his motto about political careers remains eminently proven. So let it be with Caesar Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond, MA, PC, MSP, Prìomh Mhinistear na h-Alba/ Heid Meinister o Scotland.

    If you want a 1918 scenario, call ’em out. No, it doesn’t quite work. Billy Wolfe would have been man for it, but the amazing self-basting Salmond is only fit for barricades for the comfortably built, even though — once upon a time, when the world was young — he was to the fore in the ’79 Group. Gosh: how we have matured — though I’m still reading Ian Hamilton’s blog. He’d be there, too. Those who live by the parliamentary process end up like the Irish Parliamentary Party.

    What we had last month was a finger-post: no where near a destination.

  • Dewi

    “I see John Curtice (as anti-Labour as ever), glossing the Scotsman/YouGov poll, and assessing what it would imply: Labour 57 seats; SNP 48; Tories 13 (down from 18); Greens 6 (the new receptacle for a protest vote?) and just 5 (down from 16) LibDems.

    The amazing self-basting Salmond could only survive as Head Cook and Bottle Washer by a remarkable cross-party stitch up. Like it or not, whatever the beauty contest figures show, Iain Gray gets the tar-baby”.
    That was you Malcolm – na na na na na!

  • OK, Dewi @ 12:39 am, fair point.

    But who got it wrong? Curtice? The Scotsman/YouGov? My mere reporting of their “findings”? Or the indisputable conclusion that getting the job of First Minister is (choose your metaphor) the tar-baby, an embuggerance, a can of worms, the mucky end of the stick …?

    I wonder just how happy the relationship between John Swinney and his service ministers will be when the next budget settlement comes around. Except it can’t wait that long: Southern Cross has/had 98 care homes in Scotland; Castlebeck a further five (see Brian Currie’s piece in Friday’s Herald). And the Scottish Government’s anticipation of problems in carehomes? The regulation budget cut by a quarter, and 55 staff sacked. It’s that “light touch” thing again.

    Meanwhile the cost for covering the tuition fees last year was up by £56+ million (to £568.4 m), which necessitated cuts across the rest of the education line-items (including schools). Robbing junior-school Peter to pay big brother Paul?

    On which note, shall we rejoice that the pointy-headed intellectuals of Welsh academia have well and truly stuffed both Leighton Andrews and Michael Gove by going for the maximum £9,000 fees — Andrews because his budget has now to fund the promise, and Gove because up to 25,000 English students in Welsh universities will now be looking for increased loans. Of course, if the Welsh level of fees deters English students, that’s your local problem magnified.

  • Dewi

    Agreed on the last points Malcolm – but to compound matters the policy of subsidising Welsh students studying in England is sheer economic lunacy,
    Southern Cross drives me spare. We bailout bankers for billions but let care homes crash…
    ..and it is causing some difficulty for the SNP.

  • JPJ2

    Though it is difficult to find all this information readily, so far as I can see the SNP topped the poll in no less than 69 of the 73 constituencies on the second/list/regional vote.

    No resemblance can be claimed re 1918, of course, as no similar vote took place 🙂

    However, don’t tell me that the above little reported fact is not significant, as it indicates that incumbency was about the only positive issue that the surviving unionist constituency members had going for them.

    By the way, I love, absolutely love, the complacency of the unionists about the result of a future referendum.

  • Dewi

    I’ve been searching for those list vote stats also JPJ2…have you any links?
    ….I share your delight at Unionist complacency…

  • Indeed, Dewi.

    Similarly I hold the tuition fees hike to be outrageous — and for no great gain, since the cost of the loans counts as government expenditure. The whole grand experiment has been a policy disaster: Gove’s only benefit being that Clegg took the worst of the political hit.

    Then to the devolved governments. The fees pledge in Wales was a PC-led policy; which the Labour administration now has to redeem. Similarly in Scotland, the SNP went along with what was primarily a LibDem initiative. Now both must be somewhat ruing the populist me-too-ism.

    The carehomes business is potentially the ultimate scandal, and will hurt all three adminstrations (haven’t seen a NI evaluation yet — I think Southern Cross have only three homes across the Six Counties, run as an adjunct to their Scottish operation). With any luck, the bulk of the whoops-err-nasty will end up on the door-steps of Whitehall, if only because the real scandal is, as you point out, another failure of deregulation. But who, in any right and decent mind, runs what amounts to a property Ponzi scam on the backs of the most vulnerable members of society? And what responsible government, of whatever hue, turns a blind eye? Polly Toynbee in yesterday’s Guardian was, to me, magnificent. What does it say when she, the Daily Mail and the Financial Times are in some kind of accord?

  • JPJ2 and Dewi:

    The extended narrative and “provisional” analysis is at — see page 35, but, as you say, no detailed breakdown of the regional list voting.

    Similarly the “Scotland Votes” piece at has not been updated with a retrospective analysis.

    Those are the two sources to which I would immediately look.

  • Dewi

    Probably best is Better Nation (no detailed list breakdown though)
    A super blog also.

  • Dewi

    ““Labour’s shift to a constitutionally-focused campaign led to a small recovery in their numbers before polling day.”
    No it didn’t”

    That was a liile brusque. To expand a little the SNP’s leadership only began to hit the second tier of Labour held seats in the last few days as evidencene of a move from Labour grew. Indeed even after the polls closed Angus Robertson dismissed the notion of taking Kirkcaldy.
    The fact that the Labour vote generally held up disguises a myriad of differing patterns. It’s worth noting:
    1) The starting position was historically bad, Labour in Wales put on 10 percentage points whilst in Scotland slipped by half a point. Both from low starting points.
    2) Surely “some” of the LibDem collapse must have gone to Labour implying a further Labour to SNP shift. Some work needs to done on the scale of this but it’s certainly >0.
    3) Another fairly abstract point is that the 2 main parties gathered 77% of the vote between them, Compare that to 67% for top two parties in Wales. In the UK in 2010 the top two parties took 65% of the vote.

  • Dewi @ 1:26 pm:

    Predictably, I’d be disputing bits of that.

    Read what , among others, Alistair Darling was saying after the wash-up last month:
    ¶ there is an organisational problem, which is why the SNP cleaned up on the transfers and regional vote;
    ¶ a significant part of the LibDem vote transferred en bloc to the SNP (whereas, in England about 7% of the electorate seem to have shifted/returned from LibDem to Labour);
    ¶ Labour personalities are still preferring to look to Westminster as their career goal;
    ¶ there are too many personality issues within the Scottish Labour Party (never known for brotherly love);
    ¶ above all, Scottish Labour has not learned to love devolution.

    Fortunately, there are the likes of Elaine Smith MSP, Alex Falconer and the Campaign for Socialism within the Party.

    So, it’s money-where-your-mouth-is time. Reckon Anne McLaughlin (SNP: 17½% in 2010) can dent Iain McKenzie (Labour, 56% in 2010) for the Inverclyde by-election? After all, Stuart Macmillan was less than 2% behind for the Greenock and Inverclyde seat a month back, as you pertinently pointed out.

  • Dewi

    From your link Malcolm:
    “However, Ian Smart, a former member of the party’s Scottish executive, and a founding member of the pro-devolution pressure group Scottish Labour Action, warned that Scottish Labour failed to understand which election they were taking part in.

    He said that there had been “no more telling exchange” in the campaign than Alex Salmond’s reply when asked in an interview whether an SNP victory would send a mixed message to the Westminster Coalition.

    “This election … is not about sending messages to anybody, it is about electing a government for Scotland,” he said,

    Mr Smart added: “One might think he was only stating the bleeding obvious, but, obvious as it was, it passed by the Scottish Labour Campaign from start to finish.” ”

    Precisely. On the by-election I’m not sure that the SNP and Plaid should bother with Westminster any more. What’s the point?

  • Dewi

    Highland and Islands list results by seat. Notr SNP clean sweep bar Shetland,

  • Dewi @ 8:05 pm:

    By no coincidence there is an exergetic wee thread running on the shetlink site. Over seven pages, in essence it amounts to: union or Scotland or Shetland independence? Now that would be a turn up: how could Salmond resist the cry, “It’s Shetland’s oil!”?

    After all, when your nearest railway station is Bergen …

  • Dewi

    Lol Malcolm. Slightly seriously the SNP referendum campaign shouldl start in Lerwick:

  • Dewi
  • drc0610

    Malcolm, from Darlings piece you missed the part where Miliband said his party had made neither “an offer nor a vision” for Scotland.

    To be fair to the SNP they didn’t have to do much as Labour didn’t turn up, filled with placeman and weighed down by incompetence and corruption.

    While the Lib Dems and Tories imploded in spectacular fashion, quite how they managed to shoot themselves in the foot so many times takes some doing.

  • Dewi
  • drc0610 @ 1:36 pm:

    Didn’t miss it: discounted it as a cliché.

    Round about the time my alter-ego was joining the Labour Party, Harold Wilson was enthusing the 1961 Labour Conference with truisms like: “The Labour Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing”. Of course, that would be edited out nowadays on grounds of Islamophobia.

    Well, some of us still believe in the moral … campaign and example. Sadly, we haven’t seen much of it in later years. If Alistair Darling has now woken up to that essence of leftism, he left it very, very late. Meantime, he and his colleagues left us with the alternative — nothing.

    Fortunately there are still many on the Left who saw and see that glaring truth. Refer back to my posts in this thread and you’ll find the odd Scottish luminary or two name-checked.

    If you are now going to assert that Salmond has some great Vision of the New Jerusalem-in-Auld-Reekie, please let us in on the secret. He is rather backward-in-coming forward, especially in comparison with previous Scots who were true nationalists and left-of-centre. After all “left-of-centre” is where the SNP repeatedly claims itself, especially in the Lowlands, if not so aggressively to deter the Tartan Tory tendency Salmond has fostered in his north-eastern fastness.

  • Dewi

    Malcolm – you are on the wrong side here friend.
    “If you are now going to assert that Salmond has some great Vision of the New Jerusalem”
    What on God’s earth is the Scottish Labour vision? The incoherent bullshit that is Calman? A great Unionist alliance with Cameron? What is the philosophy?

  • Do me the favour, Dewi @ 6:05 pm of reading what I wrote @ 3:57 pm yesterday. There I noted the Campaign for Socialism. Again, at @ 3:59 pm today, I tried to refer to alternative, positive, more progressive trends in the Scottish Labour Party.

    Self-evidently I did not make myself clear.

    You brought in Scottish Labour Action and Ian Smart. If you like SLA you need to buy the package, including Bob McLean: it used to include Wendy Alexander (whom Smart challenged for the Paisley nomination) and Jack McConnell. You might also acknowledge that the Scottish Labour Women’s Caucus was significant: at one stage well over half Labour MSPs owned two X-chromosomes.

    Failing that, try for a policy programme than goes beyond the chimera of devolution. And which is certainly no compromise with the Cameroons.

    Yes, there were a few too many complacent (if also very able) types who thought the battles had been won. Now they know better. Watch this space.

  • antamadan

    Just suppose that a huge majority in Scotland do vote for independence, but not every constituency/county.

    Would it be ok for Westminster to set up a new UK state say Southern Scotland out of 4 counties that voted against independence; and maybe give them another two counties that had a ‘substantial’ minority against independence just to ensure the nascent state’s viability?

  • Dewi

    “Would it be ok for Westminster to set up a new UK state say Southern Scotland out of 4 counties that voted against independence; and maybe give them another two counties that had a ‘substantial’ minority against independence just to ensure the nascent state’s viability?”
    That’s a good idea – worked well in the past…