Aberdeen South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 11087 (22.8%)
Labour: 12991 (26.8%)
Lib Dem: 2252 (4.6%)
SNP: 20221 (41.6%)
Green: 964 (2%)
UKIP: 897 (1.8%)
Independent: 139 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 7230 (14.9%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, North East. Part of the Aberdeen City council area.

Main population centres: Aberdeen, Cults, Peterculter, Milltimber.

Profile: Aberdeen South consists of the Southern part of Aberdeen itself and the more rural areas to the West of the city, including the middle class suburbs of Peterculter, Bieldside and Cults. There are also more working class areas included in the seat, such as the post-war estates in Torry, Kincorth and Nigg..

Politics: The seat was won by Labour in 1997, having had the distinction of being the only seat that Labour lost in the 1992 election. It had been held by the Labour MP Dame Anne Begg, only the second full time wheelchair user elected to the Commons, but was lost to the SNP in their 2015 landslide.

Current MP
CALLUM MCCAIG (SNP) Educated at Edinburgh University. Former Parliamentary assistant. Aberdeen councillor since 2007, former leader of Aberdeen council. First elected as MP for Aberdeen South in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 8914 (21%)
Lab: 15722 (37%)
LDem: 12216 (28%)
SNP: 5102 (12%)
Oth: 1080 (3%)
MAJ: 3506 (8%)
Con: 7134 (17%)
Lab: 15272 (37%)
LDem: 13924 (33%)
SNP: 4120 (10%)
Oth: 1171 (3%)
MAJ: 1348 (3%)
Con: 7098 (19%)
Lab: 14696 (40%)
LDem: 10308 (28%)
SNP: 4293 (12%)
Oth: 495 (1%)
MAJ: 4388 (12%)
Con: 11621 (26%)
Lab: 15541 (35%)
LDem: 12176 (28%)
SNP: 4299 (10%)
Oth: 425 (1%)
MAJ: 3365 (8%)

2015 Candidates
ROSS THOMSON (Conservative) Born Aberdeen. Educated at Bridge of Don Academy and Aberdeen University. Retail store trainer. Aberdeen councillor since 2012. Contested Gordon 2010.
ANNE BEGG (Labour) Born 1955, Bechin. Educated at Brechin High School and Aberdeen University. History and english teacher. MP for Aberdeen South 1997 to 2015. Begg was born with Gaucher Disease and is the first full time wheelchair user to be elected to the Commons.
DENIS RIXSON (Liberal Democrat)
CALLUM MCCAIG (SNP) Educated at Edinburgh University. Parliamentary assistant. Aberdeen councillor since 2007, former leader of Aberdeen council.
Comments - 246 Responses on “Aberdeen South”
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  1. Lib Dem target?
    Those were the days. A remarkable Labour seat having some of the wealthiest wards in the UK. The city as a whole has 30% of the population in the wealthiest 10% of the UK population and most of the wealthiest areas are in this constituency. The Dame Ann factor has been important. Little threat now from the Lib Dems, I would imagine.

  2. Yup, I expect Anne Begg’s personal vote helped her against the LD onslaughts of 2005 and 2010. This time round I think she’ll hold on confortable.

  3. While Iain Sproat’s misjdgement in moving from Aberdeen South to Roxburgh in 1983 is well know, what is less well known is that the Conservative candidate in Roxburgh in 1979 was Gerry Malone who moved to Aberdeen South.

    So did Gerry Malone have the opposite, but correct, idea to Iain Sproat?

  4. Is there a possibility if the LD’s have a total meltdown a la 1997 for the Tories they could finish 3rd?

  5. Its possibility the Liberal Democrats could finish third. As they did in Aberdeen South & North Kincardine in 2011 from holding the seat in 2007. But the LibDems will take comfort in the result from the Donside by-election, finally ending the drift in support to the SNP.

  6. My forecast for 2015

    Lab 35.5 (-1)
    LD 21.4 (-7)
    SNP 19.9 (+8)
    Con 17.7 (-3)
    Others 5.5

    Turnout 69.2 (+2)

    The LDs did surprisingly well in the more affluent parts of this seat in May 2012.

    This seat will vote roughly the same way as East Dunbartonshire.

  7. I suspect that the LDs will be a good deal closer in E Dunbartonshire than they will be here. However, I admit that this isn’t based on any local knowledge. I can see Labour winning that seat, but not overwhelmingly, whereas I really can’t see Anne Begg being in any serious danger here.

  8. I can see this seat going to the Tories again some time in the next decade or so.

    But for 2015:

    LAB: 34%
    CON: 23%
    SNP: 20%
    LD: 19%
    GRN: 3%
    OTH: 1%

  9. Christ I missed out UKIP:

    Updated prediction:

    LAB: 33%
    CON: 22%
    LD: 19%
    SNP: 19%
    UKIP: 4%
    GRN: 3%

  10. Gerry Malone couldn’t be faulted for enthusiasm.
    After being unseated here in 1987 he promptly arranged a campaign at the party conference for the Poll Tax to be brought in in one go.

  11. This could be a really interesting seat. The Labour vote is small enough to make it marginal, but the main challengers from last time will be hurt by more than the incumbent. The LD vote could go to any of the other three parties, but held up reasonably well in 2012. We know the LDs can flock to the SNP, but this trend is weaker now than in 2011. Additionally, one would imagine that the larger No vote come from Aberdeen South rather than North so they may have a lower ceiling.

    Long term it should be a Tory target, but the party is not ready to challenge in 2015 and shouldn’t fight too hard here when it needs to win AWK. Unless tactical voting or an unusual split of votes makes this a four way marginal they shouldn’t expect to be close to winning.

    I am inclined to say Labour hold, but with little certainty.

  12. Interesting pattern in this seat-

    1983- Iain Sproat moves from here to the new Roxburgh and Berwickshire, thinking it was a ‘safer’ seat, but ends up losing to Archy Kirkwood by 3, 396 votes. Meanwhile, Gerry Malone, the new Tory candidate for Aberdeen South, increases the majority here from 772 all the way up to 3, 581.

    1987- Gerry Malone loses Aberden South to Labour’s Frank Doran by 1, 198 votes.

    1992- Both Iain Sproat and Gerry Malone resurface in ‘safe’ Conservative seats in England- Sproat in Harwich, and Malone in Winchester. Ironically, Malone’s old seat is taken back for the Tories by Raymond Robertson.

    1997- Raymond Robertson loses to Labour’s Anne Begg, slumping to third place behind Nicol Stephen of the Lib Dems.

    2001- In common with messrs Sproat and Malone, Robertson stands in a traditionally safe Tory seat, albeit in Scotland- Eastwood, and loses comfortably to Labour’s Jim Murphy, who increases his majority.

    It’s actually quite a fascinating seat this.

  13. This seat was never won by Labour until 1966, not even in 1945. The first Labour MP was Donald Dewar.

  14. Donald Dewar was yet another MP for Aberdeen South who later came back for a safe seat in Glasgow Garscadden. Ironically, Frank Doran, defeated here in 1992, returned for Aberdeen Central in 1997.

  15. I think in 1945 the size of the Torry housing estates was pretty minimal, and their existence and the relocation of poverty in Aberdeen may have been the cause of Dewar’s first victory.

    I don’t know this area of Aberdeen at all well, with the exception of the Midstocket area where I have friends. Despite apparently high wages and rents, it isn’t an area that smacks of great wealth. I think property prices, and the high rates associated with them squeeze out other small businesses preventing Aberdeen from having the wealth of self-employed people as would benefit the Conservatives.

  16. Frank Doran has represented every Aberdeen seats.

    South 1987 – 1992
    Central 1997 – 2005
    North 2005 – 2015

  17. Nice to know.

    Going for a SNPPY gain here.

  18. Good chance of this returning to the Conservatives as SNP taking a lot of votes from Labour. Many disaffected Liberals will return to Conservative ranks.

  19. @ John W – I think the conservatives support is pretty minimal in this seat to make major gains above 25%. At a push they would atleast need a third of the vote to win here, which isn’t very likely as the SNP hold a more universal appeal across social classes whereas the Conservatives only tend to do well in Scotland in affluent suburban areas, which only make up around a half of this constituency: they would have a bigger chance of winning in East Renfrewshire but again, New Labour have done quite well in that area. This seat has a mix of affluent and deprived areas which seems to be a characteristic which benefits the SNP above all others.

  20. This is a fascinating seat. Aberdeen in general had a higher percentage than average No Vote in the independence referendum than the country as a whole so that would indicate limited upside for SNP. Unlike many other areas in Scotland the bulk of Liberal Democrat voters in Aberdeen South have been voting LD in the past to compete with Labour rather than an actual social democratic support base. In the face of a collapsing national LD vote, I can see the Conservatives picking up a lot of the deserting LD voters along with the SNP meaning we could have a fascinating three way marginal between Labour, SNP and Conservative. Less likely to end up a CON seat than West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, but still a potential surprise here.

  21. @ Lesser – this very unrealistic, in reality more LD’s appear to be intending to vote Labour or SNP than Conservative, and 58.6% No isn’t a margin that I would consider good enough to be won by the Unionist parties in a seat such as Aberdeen South where the unionist vote is fractured. Even if Aberdeen South voted 62% No, this is not a likely or plausible Conservative seat based on what opinion polls suggest – to win a seat like Aberdeen South the Tories would need a national share of the vote in the mid-to-high 20’s. This would be a semi-marginal for the Tories at best!

    A conservative gain in West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine isn’t very plausible either – the SNP have performed strongly in Aberdeenshire even with a strong No vote. I’d assume a No vote of 65-66% in that constituency but it still seems firm SNP territory given that the union vote would literally be split 3-way. From what the polls suggest that seat will go SNP, even if the Tories finish a nearby 2nd place – in this election as it stands the only realistic conservative seats in Scotland are the three borders seats (Dumfries & Galloway/Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale and Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk).

    Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine is much less likely to go Conservative and at the moment seems to be more likely to go SNP, whilst East Renfrewshire is more of a fight between Labour and the SNP, with the Tories pushed back into third – it’s extremely unlikely to go Conservative.

  22. I think what the Tories are pushing for in a lot of these seats, apart from the southern three where they have good winning chances, is to try and finish a good second to the SNP. This then potentially establishes them as the main unionist challenger for future elections, with the opportunity to take seats if and when the SNP declines. Some of the Tory attacks are being aimed at the Lib Dems in particular, with the idea of marginalising them from these 3 or 4 way contests.

  23. I think that’s definitely true of Argyll and Bute, where they are pretty much already considered the opposition to the SNP at Westminster.

  24. @NTY UK – I disagree with your sentiment. LD’s do not appear to be more likely to vote Labour or Labour would be winning this election by a landslide even with a poor showing in Scotland. With respect to this particular seat (which I live in!), a lot of the LD vote comes from the most affluent parts of the seat and will likely not go to Labour.

    Your 58.6% No vote reflects Aberdeen as a whole. Aberdeen North contains more of the Yes voters and Aberdeen South has a markedly higher No voting percentage which means SNP upside is much more limited than you may believe.

    It’s a definite three way marginal, though for some reason Anne Begg does seem to have personal appeal in the area for LAB which might keep her in the seat.

  25. The affluent part of the Lib Dem vote that won’t go to the SNP or Labour is the remaining 6% of the population that say they will still vote Lib Dem.

    On the referendum results, the seat is sufficiently mixed that there won’t be a huge divergence from the overall city vote. I think if Yes got about 41.5% across Aberdeen, then 38-39% in South and 44-45% in North seems reasonable. If the SNP get 38%, or very close to it, they will win.

    This is actually quite similar to a number of other quite havily No voting seats, in that the vote is going to be highly fragmented. The Lib Dems will still get some sort of a vote – say 10-15%, and the Greens and UKIP will get a couple of per cent each, so that leaves about 80-85% for the other three to fight over. Someone could quite easily win here with 30%.

  26. @ Simon – Exactly, and the Tories are on 21%. It’s too big a jump in all honesty given that nationally the Tory vote looks as though it will remain the same/similar to that of 2010, ranging up to maybe 18-19% on a good day. Given that the Tories barely notionally held the seat in 1992 and that there’s no indication of a sizeable level of Tory support above 25% in the area after 1997 then it’s very dubious that the Tories can make gains here, also it’s important to keep in mind that those who would vote Tory and LD normally might tactically vote in favour of the Labour incumbent of the area to prevent the SNP from gaining the seat.

    I think the Lib Dems will be able to hold around +30% of their 2010 voters in some seats, but I suppose it will dependent on the dynamics of each seat eg. probably a higher swing to SNP in the Highland seats/Argyll & Bute compared to their seats in Aberdeenshire, Fife and central Scotland.

  27. I think, if anything, the Tory vote may be squeezed further here. I would have thought that Anne Begg is a relatively inoffensive Labour MP, and wouldn’t be too hard for softer Lib Dems or Tories to vote for.

    I wonder how she is campaigning – is she trying to seem radical and take on the SNP directly, or is she more appealing for tactical votes? I was slightly surprised in Edinburgh North and Leith, which has a fair bit in common with this seat – Lab/Lib Dem marginal, significant Tory vote, relatively comfortable No vote, and a mixed urban seat – at how much Mark Lazarowicz’s material was trying to outlefty the SNP. Obviously that seat is a bit better for the SNP and worse for the Tories than this one, but I’m interested whether Labour MPs in these sort of seats are approaching things in the same way.

  28. It is interesting that’s for sure, let’s say you’r right about LD’s holding onto 30% of their vote. That puts 18-20% of votes up for grabs. Labour sliding popularity, say that costs them 10% of their previous voters and say the core starting point for SNP and Conservaitve are the same. That means there are approx 10,000 votes to be reallocated with current state of parties at:

    CON – 8914, LAB – now 14,100, LD – now 3,700, SNP – 5102

    So where do these approximately 10,000 votes go?

    Can safely see 5,000 going to the Nats
    Possibly 3000 going to CON
    And 2000 disgruntled LDs going to Labour

    CON – ~12,000, LAB – 15,000, LD – 3,700, SNP – ~10,000

    That’s a very conservative estimate that already makes it a 3 way marginal, you slip another 2,000 from LAB to SNP and it’s very close between all three.

  29. This is utterly ridiculous. If we look at the council elections here we see that it is one of about three areas in the country (the others I’m thinking of are East Dunbartonshire and Fife NE) where the Lib Dems have held up well. The wealthy Lib Dem vote here shows no sign of going Tory, it will stay Lib Dem.

  30. But behaviour in STV local elections and Westminster FPP ones could of course be very different.

  31. Virtually no ex-Lib Dems will vote Tory. The people who used to vote Lib Dem but don’t any more are the people who are upset that the Lib Dems went into Government with the Tories. Why would any of these people vote Tory?

  32. @Simon – If virtually no ex LD’s would vote Tory then Labour would be winning the polls in the UK by a mile but they are not.

    You make the assumption that all the LD’s in this seat were dyed in the wool LD’s and well, that’s inaccurate. A lot of legacy LD voters in Aberdeen South have been tactical voting Tories trying to keep Labour out.

    With a big swing away from Labour, a big swing to the SNP and an unpopular LD, many of these tactical voting Tories could revert to voting CON as they can see potential in them winning the seat which I see as a 3 party marginal but could even be a 4 party marginal if the LD vote holds up to an extent.

  33. @ Lesser – You’re really over-estimating the strength of the Conservatives in Scotland, and it’s not viable to assume that the Scottish political system is similar to that of the English and Welsh political system – in post-1997 Scotland the Conservatives generally can’t hope to get beyond their 16-18% range in elections (the number tends to be quite significantly lower in Scottish parliament elections – perhaps due to tactical voting and less interest among Tory voters as it doesn’t concern the entire UK). The emergence of the New Labour effectively sucked out a good 30% of the Tory vote who used to receive 25-30% of the vote prior to 1997. Aberdeen South has never truly been a “Tory stronghold”, even before 1992 it was a pretty marginal seat which was actually won by Labour in the 1987 election, as it was marginal it is to be expended that a sizeable chunk of those former Tory votes will never return to the party, so I really find it unlikely that the party will ever be in a position of power in the seat.

    This is clear and demonstrated in seats such as Stirling and East Renfrewshire – which used to be a pretty reliable Tory seat until 1997!

    Many Liberal Democrat voters are more attracted to the centralist message of New Labour, and to some extent the shared liberal values with the SNP, compared with the Tories. As such, generally speaking, Liberal Democrat voters are more likely to vote for anti-Tory parties compared to the Tories. Even if we’re generous to the Tories and assume 20% of the Liberal Democrat vote goes Conservative in Aberdeen South then that would only give them approximately 26% of the vote. In my view 26% is an achievable level of support for the Conservatives if they do as well as I would expect in this election in Scotland, but I’m very doubtful that this would be enough to give the Conservatives a marginal/semi-marginal position with whoever wins the seat unless the race is incredibly close, but for the foreseeable future a Conservative gain beyond 26% in Aberdeen South seems pretty unlikely.

  34. I refer to my post under Argyll & Bute. The idea that the Tories could win here is pure pie in the sky.

  35. We saw where the Scottish Lib Dem vote went in 2011 in my opinion. It wasn’t to the Tories.

  36. Frankly the Conservatives have such limited support in Scotland that they could only ever hope to win a few select seats under a FPTP system.
    * Ayr (1): Conservatives have a significant level of support in South Ayr, Prestwick, Troon and parts of the rural area just east of Ayr/Prestwick/Troon (eg. Joppa, Loans, Dundoald etc.) This could only make up 1 seat. The Ayr seat in the Scottish parliament has been their longest continuous Conservative-voting seat in Scotland (2000-).
    * Borders (3): Generally speaking the Scottish borders has quite a lot of support for the party, they hold 2 out of 3 borders seats in the SP and I would expect them to hold/gain all 3 westminister seats in the area.
    * Eastwood (1): In 2007 the 2011 SP Eastwood seat voted notionally Conservative, the party could possibly gain the seat which includes a large number of formerly and currently conservative middle-class areas such as Newton Mearns. The East Renfrewshire seat in Westminister and the Scottish parliament has been Labour voting since the 1997 Labour landslide, yet used to be the Tories safest Scottish seat.
    * Grampian (1): There’s a sizeable level of support for the Conservatives in Kirremuir, Angus, and parts of south Aberdeenshire and south-west Aberdeen, this could hypothetically be incorporated into a seat (Deeside & Kirriemuir), however it would really need to be gerrymandered (which in a way is a good thing by producing more reflective results).
    * Perthshire/Stirlingshire (1): Stirling and Perth/Kinross-shire have historically been Tory voting, and with gerry-mandering it’s probably possible to create a winnable seat in the area.
    * Edinburgh Pentlands (1): Formerly a Tory seat until 1997, and was Conservative in the SP from 2000-2007 (in 2011 the boundaries were altered).

    That’s at the most 8 out of 59 seats, which would be a dream for the Tories in post-1997 but would require serious, obvious gerry-mandering. Unless attitudes change in Scotland however, that’s just how it is.

  37. * above is just a list of areas/seats which could hypothetically be Conservative, although honestly only 6 are not gerry-mandered, of which only 4-5 would have a suitable electorate size whilst still voting Conservative (Ayr, the borders seats and possibly Edinburgh Pentlands). A seat can be created in the Grampians area with a fair electorate size, but it would be complex and would cover 2-3 council areas.

  38. @NTY UK – I’m not predicting a huge swing to the Tories, but your upper limit of 26% states here could be enough to take it if LAB fall, SNP uplift limited and LD hold a reasonable share.

    Its an outside shout but not beyond the realms of all possibility as Barnabay states….

  39. @ Lesser – that scenario is extremely unlikely, it would require that the SNP national swing be much smaller than predicted, Labour would really need to do terribly, but there would be no reason for this to happen if the SNP don’t take as many votes as opinion polls suggest. To get a result like-

    Con 26
    Lab 23
    SNP 23
    Lib Dem 23

    would require a much larger national drop for Labour vs. Liberal Democrats which currently seems unlikely. The chances of a Conservative win here are low at best, I certainly wouldn’t count on it and when you consider the constituency it’s very much like my own – it’s got a collection of wealthy suburbs which make up a minority of the constituency despite being predominantly Tory and possibly more suited to another boundary, whilst the remainder of the constituency is extremely deprived which is well suited to the SNP in particular as with no single social group being the dominant force in the constituency, the SNP can gain the constituency despite not being supported by the majority of people from each part of the constituency.

    I personally cannot invision a Conservative gain here, it’s not a seat which is placed highly on the list of possible Tory seats and for it to be Conservative it would effectively mean Stirling, the seats in Perthshire, East Renfrewshire and Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine would all fall to the Tories. This has only been achieved pre-1997 and in some European elections, so I really doubt it to be the case, unless some how the SNP’s support in the polls is a lie (which I technically believe is partly true, I don’t think they are doing as well as is being reflected by the polls) and that their momentum will fade prior to the election – now this is possible but again I wouldn’t count on it by judging Quebec. It will take a good number of elections for a Labour/Liberal Democrat recovery in Scotland, and luck.

  40. Con 27
    Lab 26
    SNP 26
    Lib Dem 21

    Is perhaps better actually, but still absolutely absurd if current polls are to be believed.

  41. @NTY UK – did you say the SNP hold Liberal values? That’s just not true! They have moved so far to the left they couldn’t spell centre. The SNP are taking advantage of the fact that Scottish Labour voters hated New Labour as too right wing and fair play to them for that. But the counter balance is that the SNP is a coalition of Nationalists. The further left they stray it’s only a matter of time before they split their own vote.

  42. And I don’t necessarily think it’s a good chance of a CON gain, it’s merely an interesting one. National polls are essentially meaningless in seats like this where there is a huge uncertainty. The polarising effect of the tactical voter not knowing what is really going on has a good chance of throwing up crazy surprises…

  43. @ Lesser – well generally speaking the SNP hold similar policies with the Lib Dems regarding “progressiveness” eg. both want federalism, constitution, the SNP are quite social liberal which might appeal some of the more left-wing Lib Dems, removal of nuclear deterrent is generally a popular liberal policy etc.

    I think the SNP do have some divisions in that their more northerly seats around Moray, Perthshire etc. are more right-wing, but given that all SNP’s have a strong and central policy of independence, I don’t think that many in the party would want to jeopardise losing the momentum of nationalism around Scotland by breaking away from the SNP when they could do so if/once Scotland becomes independent. If Scotland did become independent the political spectrum would change entirely, but that’s another matter.

    I’m really unsure about Aberdeen South but perhaps Conservatives at 26%? I could be all wrong of course, perhaps Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polls are spot on – but I really fear an unaccounted bias exists similar to the polls for the 1992 election.

  44. @NTY UK – I agree with your point on an unaccounted bias, while we can make national assumptions across UK and Scotland, the more you delve into the local effect the more blurred it becomes which is one of the things that makes this election the most interesting probably since the surprise CON win in 1992. Some of the factors that I think have to be taken into account for this election, with particular focus on Scotland:

    SNP – Their turnout will I suspect be high as there is still a lot of bad feeling within the Yes voting minority (you only have to look at the vehement abuse that was kicking about on social media after the results to see that). For that reason they will be highly motivated to get to the polls again this time. On the other side of the coin could their turnout be lower due to disillusionment with the result, or even a higher vote for the Nat supporting Greens splitting their vote????

    Indy Ref No Shows – While turnout was high for the indy ref, there was still >15% of people that didn’t turn up to vote. I’m sure some Nats will disagree with me here but I would make an assumption that there are more “No’s” in the didn’t vote than “Yes’s” since the Yes vote was highly motivated to vote and ran a more effective campaign. Throughout the whole process polls consistently indicated a No result (with one exception), meaning I think No voters were less inclined to vote. Will these no shows turn up this time given the current polarisation and split in the country to this one issue?

    Tactical Voting – LD’s have always benefited from tactical voting, but this election in a lot of seats there is a lot more uncertainty as to which side to tactically vote for to keep others out. In the past the SNP have also always benefited from tactical voters as an anti Labour vote, however with the polar split following indy ref, will they do so again? And where do the votes go, or do they just not turn up????

    With all of this uncertainty I can’t even begin to predict the effect on local seats to the extent that you have bravely done in other posts. All I can do is give some opinions on what I think will happen and watch fascinated as the results come in.

  45. A lot of these questions can be answered by polling. I have a feeling in some cases that some posters just don’t like the answers they are getting.

    For example, very few people are going to vote Green next month. If you speak to people who are that way inclined or look at Facebook discussions or whatever, then the “No point voting Green for Westminster, but might vote for them on the list/council elections” idea comes up again and again.

    I don’t think that turnout among SNP supporters will be lower, but polls do look at how likely people are to vote and take that into account. If anything it may be the other way round, given the vast increase in membership and activism following the referendum. In many ways, I think that No voters and politicians have been slower to appreciate and understand the changes in Scottish politics since the referendum.

    On the non-voters, I think it hardly matters. Obviously there will be a few who normally vote but couldn’t due to unforeseen circumstances. There will be a larger group who are either registration errors (people who have moved house within the last year or so can still be on the register at their old address, for example), or legitimate dual registrations (students, for example, can register at their home address and term address, but can choose which address to vote at). Those who are left over after that are probably never going to vote in any case.

    The tactical voting thing is interesting, but is largely covered in constituency polling, I think. In the past, when I have chosen to vote tactically, then the answer to the question “Who are you going to vote for?” would clearly be the beneficiary of my tactical vote.

    It will be interesting to see how things develop in the longer term, as most of the non-Tory incumbents of all parties in more affluent seats have benefitted from tactical voting to an extent. The problem for the Tories is that they no longer, in general, have the base level of support to take advantage of shifts in voting patterns. It doesn’t matter who people vote for – if you can only get 25% in a lot of seats, you’re still not going to win.

  46. @Simon – I agree I don’t think the SNP turnout will be low, I think they will be well mobilised but it’s still uncertain.

    I don;t think the polling is taking everything into account in this election, similar to 1992. I think overall they probably do have the popular vote percentages correct but in terms of seat predictions they could be way off because of local effects. I also think the pollsters in Scotland in particular aren’t making enough allowance for the “Shy Labour” and “Shy Lib Dem” vote. I think this could be particularly prevalent this time around.

    I agree with your point on the Tories, they are a long way from an electoral breakthrough but I still think unforeseen split votes could gain them a few seats this time around. Overall though they still can’t stop the now slowed but still steady decline in their vote. IMO in Scotland they need a break with the UK Party, a new name not containing the word “Conservative” , in effect a total rebranding to maintain their base but attract voters who don’t like the current choice of Left Nationalists, Left Unionists or Centre Left Unionists.

    One crazy thought I had with the changing political landscape in Scotland is if the LD’s do see a meltdown up here, could there be sense in them having a pact with the Conservatives in the future on a Liberal Unionist and Unionist Liberal ticket? I know I will likely get a shed load of abuse for suggesting that but both parties are in a difficult position in Scotland and something like that could work. The Scottish Tories are already further to the left than down south so the gap between them and the LD’s isn’t too great.

  47. My own view is that it doesn’t really matter what the Scottish Tories call themselves. People aren’t going to suddenly start voting for them because they call themselves the Scottish Cuddly Christian Democrat Unionist Party. Unless it’s a meaningful break that means that elected representatives will not actually back everything that the UK Tories propose, then it’s all just window-dressing.

    The problem for the Lib Dems is that they are also joined to their UK party, and they presumably want to keep the option of allying with either main party to form a Government. They can’t really do that if they’re running as some Liberal Unionist party. They also would quite like more influence at Holyrood again, and that likely means forming a coalition with Labour in the future.

    To be honest, as long as politics splits on both a constitutional axis and a left-right axis, there will be quite a lot of people who aren’t well represented by the main parties. Currently, anyone who is right of centre and pro-independence has a difficult choice to make, as does anyone who actually supports real devo max, but doesn’t want full independence.

  48. It does matter, the Scottish Tories have already said they wouldn’t blanket agree on everything put forward by the UK Party but the message isn’t being heard. Similar to Scottish Labour just being seen as an extension of UK Labour and becoming less popular as a result, even without the huge forecast swing to the Nats this time around.

    My view is it’s the brand that is toxic rather than the actual policies. If you look at the record of what the Scottish Tories have done in the Scottish Parliament it is generally viewed positively across the political spectrum party politics aside, but that will never translate into votes until they change the brand. Good suggestion of a party name by the way, I like it :-).

    In terms of an electoral pact, they could maintain their party allegiance and assess every seat separately. For seats where Liberal’s would likely have the best chance or core vote, agree that Tories don’t run and get behind a Liberal Unionist. For vice versa run under a Unionist Liberal. Have the caveat that for each member elected, they would take the government whip only if their actual party were in that government.

    The fact is that the Unionist parties in Scotland do think that it’s basically the same here as it is down south just with the additional annoyance factor of the SNP, but that is far from the actual reality. Until they realise that fact and do something different the SNP will just walk all over them.

  49. When did David Mundell last vote against UK Government legislation because the Scottish Tories disagreed with the UK Government policy? Until that happens (and on a reasonably regular basis), I think that, for most people, it’s just all talk of the sorts that politicians of all parties come up with all the time.

    On the other question, I do think the Unionist parties need to think very seriously about how they might get Yes voters to vote for them in significant numbers again any time soon, or the SNP will steamroller them for the foreseeable future. I’m not at all sure how they do this, but they need to really try a lot harder than they are now.

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