Argyll & Bute

2015 Result:
Conservative: 7733 (14.9%)
Labour: 5394 (10.4%)
Lib Dem: 14486 (27.9%)
SNP: 22959 (44.3%)
UKIP: 1311 (2.5%)
MAJORITY: 8473 (16.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Highlands and Islands. The whole of the Argyll and Bute council area.

Main population centres: Oban, Helensburgh, Rothesay, Inveraray, Tobermory, Lochgilphead, Campbeltown.

Profile: A Scottish seat covering a huge swathe of sparsely populated countryside. The seat includes the whole of the Argyll & Bute council area including many Scottish islands such as Mull, Bute, Jura, Tiree, Islay and the religious community on the isle of Iona, the burial place of the early Kings of Scotland. Other industries include tourism, forestry and fishing and, more recently, energy production through the expansion of wind farms. The seat also includes Faslane, the base of the UK`s Trident nuclear armed submarine fleet. The constituency is mainly rural. The two largest towns are the ferry port of Oban and Helensburgh, a commuter town for Glasgow.

Politics: Between 2001 and 2010 this constituency was something of a four way marginal, with as little as 10% dividing first to fourth place. In 2015 it followed most of the rest of Scotland in delivering an easy victory for the SNP.


Current MP
BRENDAN O`HARA (SNP) Born Glasgow. Educated at St Andrews Secondary and Strathclyde University. Former television producer. Contested Glasgow Springburn 1987, Glasgow Central 1992. First elected as MP for Argyll & Bute in 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 10861 (24%)
Lab: 10274 (23%)
LDem: 14292 (32%)
SNP: 8563 (19%)
Oth: 1217 (3%)
MAJ: 3431 (8%)
2005
Con: 10150 (23%)
Lab: 9696 (22%)
LDem: 15786 (37%)
SNP: 6716 (16%)
Oth: 881 (2%)
MAJ: 5636 (13%)
2001*
Con: 6436 (21%)
Lab: 7592 (25%)
LDem: 9245 (30%)
SNP: 6433 (21%)
Oth: 1251 (4%)
MAJ: 1653 (5%)
1997
Con: 6774 (19%)
Lab: 5596 (16%)
LDem: 14359 (40%)
SNP: 8278 (23%)
Oth: 713 (2%)
MAJ: 6081 (17%)

2015 Candidates
ALASTAIR REDMAN (Conservative) Born 1987. Postmaster.
MARY GALBRAITH (Labour) Born Campbeltown. Educated at Glasgow University. Contested Highlands and Islands 1999 Scottish election, Argyll and Bute 2007 Scottish election, East Dunbartonshire 20107.
ALAN REID (Liberal Democrat) Born 1954, Ayr. Educated at Ayr Academy and Strathclyde University. Computer project manager. Renfrewshire councillor 1988-1996. Contested Paisley and Renfreshire South 1992, Dunbartonshire West 1997. MP for Argyll and Bute 2001 to 2015.
CAROLINE SANTOS (UKIP) Educated at Dunoon Grammar.
BRENDAN O`HARA (SNP) Born Glasgow. Educated at St Andrews Secondary and Strathclyde University. Television producer. Contested Glasgow Springburn 1987, Glasgow Central 1992.
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Comments - 377 Responses on “Argyll & Bute”
  1. I would suggest that the Lord Ashcroft polling on constituencies is not to be taken entirely literally. Polling from the referendum shows a clear, slight bias towards a ‘Yes’ vote as is to be expected, this was also the case for polling done prior to the 2014 European Parliament election for Scotland.

    Lord Ashcroft’s opinion polls for Scotland between October 2014 to March 2015 were on average around +6% SNP, + 2% Green, -3% Labour, -3% Conservative, -1% UKIP different when compared to the average from all pollsters (this is slightly lower than it should be as “all pollsters” includes polls commissioned by Lord Ashcroft too). I would regard Lord Ashcroft polls to be slightly less reliable than other pollsters due to the fact that his polls are well off average and not in line with what I would expect with a bias towards the pro-independence parties of SNP and Green. An example of this lack of accuracy was also demonstrated in the 2014 independence referendum when Lord Ashcroft’s poll suggested a No victory of 65% (+10% difference for No compared to the final result).

    Edinburgh West is a possible Labour seat. The area voted against independence by 65.5% No, with a large Liberal Democrat and Tory vote in 2010. There has also been an emerging support for the Green Party across Edinburgh with over 16% of voters in Edinburgh voting green in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections and 7% of voters from Edinburgh South West stating that they would vote green in Lord Ashcroft’s poll of the area for 2015: this could be beneficial to the Unionist parties (and particularly Labour) by effectively splitting the pro-independence vote in Edinburgh. Scotland-wide opinion polls have shown “Lothians” to hold the highest Green support in Scotland with a TNS poll suggesting that they will receive 32% of the vote in the area – this is unrealistic and not replicated in other polls but indicates the strength of the party in the area.

    The results for Edinburgh West in 2010 were:
    Liberal Democrat 35.9%
    Labour 27.7%
    Conservative 23.2%
    SNP 13.2%

    In 2014 European parliament elections Labour received the highest % vote in Edinburgh at 23% with the Liberal Democrats only receiving 8.87%.

    My suggestion:
    Greens 5% (+5)
    UKIP 5% (+5)
    Conservative 25% (+2)
    Labour 27% (-1)
    SNP 27% (+14)
    Liberal Democrat 11% (-18)

    Why?
    In Edinburgh the Greens have polled both very highly and very lowly according to recent opinion polls, but evidence from previous elections suggest that they now have a high level of support in the city, receiving a higher % vote in the European elections in Edinburgh than elsewhere in Scotland (double at +8%). They are currently polling at 3-4% monthly average in Scotland doubling this would be around 6-8%, however my suggestion is at 5% as Edinburgh West appears to have less Green support than in North/Leith etc. and also to remove bias which I believe exists in opinion polls in favour of the more progressive, pro-independence parties (this same bias appeared to have existed in the independence referendum opinion polls).

    The Conservatives are polling consistently at the average of 17% (in some instances 18% when Lord Ashcroft polls are removed): if Lord Ashcroft is to go by they will lose support. However, I believe that a reactionary sentiment in areas with a high % No and opinion bias will result in the party receiving more votes than expected: conservatives are also more likely to turn up to the election, and on the cusp of a vote such as the referendum more former Tories may come out to vote – lets not forget that notionally in 1992 the Tories got 37% of the vote in Edinburgh West.

    UKIP have polled at between 4-5% in recent opinion polls. In my view this is higher than expected. Edinburgh saw very little support for UKIP in 2014 yet former Tory voters are likely to be drawn to the party. As the conservatives have historically done well in Edinburgh West compared to elsewhere in Scotland, I believe UKIP will receive 5% of the vote.

    Liberal Democrats: Many polls suggest that the LD’s will hold between 14-30% of their core support. Their monthly averages since the referendum have been around 6% yet were at 7% in December and 5% in January. I would suggest that around 6.5% of Scotland vote LD factoring in what I believe is opinion bias.

    Labour/SNP: I believe that the Labour party will achieve 30% of the national vote and that current opinion polls hold a slight bias towards the nationalist parties with a “Shy Labour voter” mantra now in swing. Firstly, in Edinburgh West the conservatives have historically done well: this may genuinely result in some former Labour voters voting Labour tactically against the Tories. Secondly, a wave of political activism for the independence parties occurred immediately after the referendum. In the portion of September that followed the independence referendum, Labour averaged at 29% of the vote in Scotland whilst the nationalist parties combined received -3% (42%) compared to the 2014 referendum. Naturally, those becoming more politically involved with the SNP/Greens would sign up to online pollsters etc., resulting in what I believe is an opinion bias. Applying the referendum results for Edinburgh West, removing my predicted Green vote and the -3% for the SNP would give then 27% of the vote: the same % vote of Labour (who naturally received that remainder of the vote). This is just my opinion, but if Labour can achieve my predicted 30% of national vote then they are not yet done in Scotland.

    As the 2015 dawns closer, more people in Scotland will begin to realise it is a national vote: I believe this will benefit Labour and ultimately increase their % vote in Scotland: this doesn’t mean to say they won’t receive most of the seats or beat the SNP, but maybe they won’t do as badly as is set out in the media.

  2. No. The SNP got just over 50% in the Scottish Parliament election in 2011, when the national shares of the vote were very similar to those in the opinion polls.While I wouldn’t expect them to do that well against a sitting Lib Dem MP, and with a less well known candidate, I can’t see any other result apart from a comfortable SNP victory. The Ashcroft polling for Danny Alexander and Charles Kennedy’s seats, both of which have something in common with this, suggests both that it would be a huge stretch for the Lib Dems to be competitive and that none of the other unionist parties are in a position to challenge here.

  3. SNP Majority 8% over Con

  4. But there’s really no reason to think that it will be.

  5. SNP all the way here, and in 2020 as well I reckon.

  6. It’s too early to say what will happen then IMO. For example the SNP may push through another referendum and if it produces a similar result Scottish voters may start to get a bit fed up with the party and look for alternatives.

  7. I am thinking too far ahead LOL.

  8. Andy you’re right the SNP could conceivably have collapsed right back again by 2020.

  9. I reckon the SNP will gain, with a vote share in the mid 30s.

  10. This is my election prediction:

    UK:

    I’m predicting a swing away from UKIP to Conservative in the run up to the election (on the back of a “Vote UKIP, get Ed” strategy from the Tories) giving the Tories a 6 point advantage over Labour who I think will remain around the 33% mark. I’m also predicting that the Lib Dem vote will hold up better than expected in the polls, and even if their overall percentage maybe doesn’t, I think locally they will hold on to more seats than is suspected. Key thing is my percentages may be out, but it’s the seats I’m calculating.

    Election Prediction: Hung Parliament, Conservatives short by 18 (CON – 308, LAB – 263, LD – 28, Others – 51)

    Scotland:

    I’m predicting a smaller swing of seats to the SNP than predicted from polls and have adjusted my percentages accordingly to get round about what I think will happen with seats. The polls may give the SNP the percentage of the popular vote that is indicated, however I think that tactical voting for the closest Unionist party to them in each seat could limit the number of seats they pick up. I also think Lib Dem votes will hold up slightly better than polls but not as well as the rest of the UK. I think the Tories could pick up a few seats here (I don’t believe they will get 22% of the popular vote, but it’s there to get them the 4-5 seats I think they have a chance with in respect to tactical voting).

    Scotland Prediction: CON – 5, LAB – 21, LD – 4, SNP – 29

    Wales:

    Have left as per opinion polls as don’t think there will be an electoral avalanche and neither does anybody else

    Wales Prediction: CON – 7, LAB – 28, LD – 2, PC – 3

  11. Complete bollocks. The Tories will not achieve 39% of the vote, which is 2% more than they got last time. They can only get a 6% lead over Labour if the LD vote makes a major revival at Labour’s expense. The idea that simultaneously UKIP will get at least 3 times as many votes as last time, and yet the Tory share rises, is risible.

  12. Yes, I’d be inclined to agree with Barnaby’s assessment.

    I think the Tories will just tick up very marginally – my gut still says that there will be a marginal pick-up to the government amongst undecideds, and I do think they will get a few UKIP waverers. 35% looks likely.

    Labour are running a good campaign imho, my guess is that they’ll get pretty much what they’re on now 33/34%.

    Lib Dems will recover a bit to 10-11% I think.

    UKIP will fall back – not as low as I said 18 months ago (6%- that was cobblers on my part) but I sense around 10%.

    UKIP have thus far not dropped a massive game-changing claner

  13. BBC 5 Live were in this seat this morning. They carried out a straw poll. Here are the results:
    SNP – 50%
    Lib Dem – 50%

  14. Lesserspottedscottishtory seems to have been at the Glenfiddich. People saying that there is bound to be a swing back to the government in the run up to the election are forgetting that we are in the run up to the election now.

    Chris K’s post is sensible but I don’t understand the supreme confidence of almost all posters on here that the Tories are going to win the popular vote. The polls consistently imply that it will be close, but that Labour will edge it.

  15. [email protected]
    That’s the problem with straw polls….how could the Lib Dems possibly increase from 31 to 50% when their vote in Scotland has fallen from around 20% to 3 – 6%?

    [email protected]
    What 4 seats do you believe that the Scottish Conservatives will win?

    There are only 3 longshots for the Conservatives (Dumfries & Galloway, Berwickshire and Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine).

    You project the Conservatives as gaining all 3 and taking a 4th seat.

  16. @ Dalek – I’m guessing he’s thinking of Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine and East Renfrewshire, which imo are a safe bet for the SNP and Labour respectively.

    My suggestion for Scottish votes/seats would look something like this, by this is just an assumption on my part –

    Scottish National 39%
    Labour 30%
    Conservative 17%
    Liberal Democrat 7%
    UKIP 4%
    Green 3%

    Number of seats-
    SNP 35
    Labour 20
    Conservative 3
    Liberal Democrat 1

  17. This pro-Unionist tactical voting thing seems to be the latest big thing in Scottish Tory circles. Just a shame that it won’t really work to their benefit, given that almost as many Labour and Lib Dem supporters would vote SNP to keep the Tories out as would vote Tory to keep the SNP out.

  18. @Barnaby – I’m not saying they will pick up 39%, I’m saying the amount of seats they will pick up would be the equivalent on a countrywide swing of 39%. With the increasing political awareness of other parties. I don’t really care about the percentage vote, it’s the seats I’m estimating, let’s see your prediction!

    @Chris K – I agree the Labour campaign is going well, it’s whether the left vote coalesces behind them or not as it’s a bit split just now.

    @H.Hemmelig – There is so much uncertainty, people need to remember that the reduced LD vote isn’t all going to LAB otherwise they would be on far more than 33% in the polls were that the case. The declining LD vote is also being offset by increases in other parties such as Greens and UKIP. Whether this holds until election day I don’t know but I suspect a CON win of the popular vote, though I grant that the LAB campaign is going much better and unless the Tories fix this they could lose.

  19. @Dalek – There are a number of Scotland Seats CON could pick up and my assessment is below. The Tories do need the stars to align to pick up 5, but there is a good chance in more than 5 seats:

    Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweedale – CON hold

    West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine – Not enough SNP / Nationalist support to win the seat which voted overwhelmingly No in the referendum. Generally very affluent area with a lot of right leaning LD voters who would be more inclined to vote Tory than Labour if LD vote slides. Chance of a CON gain

    Dumfries and Galloway – 2/3rd rejection in indy ref, not enough SNP support to pick up, slide in LD vote more likely to go Tory than Labour – Chance of a CON Gain

    Berwickshire Roxburgh and Selkirk – As above. Chance of a CON Gain

    Aberdeen South – LD vote here has traditionally been an anti Labour one than an anti Tory one in and area of the city which contains more of the most affluent areas. Big rejection of indy ref means SNP uplift unlikely to be enough and slide in LD vote could go to CON (remember in 1992 this was the only seat Labour lost to Conservatives in 1992. Outside chance of a CON gain.

    Edinburgh South – Again an outside chance with LD slide in vote more likely to go to CON, Outside chance of a CON gain.

    Argyll and Bute – Depends where a sliding LD vote goes and uplift in SNP but I don;t think SNP will take it. Fascinating four way marginal!

    Banff and Buchan – A real outsider here, and in Salmonds former back yard. Depends on SNP atitude to current SNP policy. A real right leaning “Tartan Tory” nationalist vote. SNP slide to the left could have alienated voters here and in 2010 Jimmy Buchan picked up >30% of the vote.

    There are others that could be interseting. By the way, I’m not forecasting a Tory popular vote of more than say 17-18%, but I do think it will coalesce higher in areas where CON have a chance and reduce in areas where they don’t.

  20. LesserSpottedScottishTory

    Whilst everything Is possible in an infinite universe, and there are occasions where parties have been able to gain seats on a declining vote (e.g. The Lib Dems in Norwich South in 2010), it is very unusual.

    And the last opinion poll for Scotland I am aware of showed the Conservative vote on 13% which is a decline of 4% since 2010 : and of course , save for 1 seat, the Conservatives do not have the benefit of incumbency when it comes to rallying the Unionist vote behind them.

    So on balance I think it unlikely that they can buck to SNP wave anywhere at all.

  21. The Tories are not picking up lots of Lib Dem votes, because the remaining Lib Dem voters are the ones who aren’t upset by them forming a Government with the Tories. The people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 but won’t this time have gone to the SNP primarily, and in lesser numbers to Labour and the Greens.

    Also, we had an election in 2011 where parties got pretty similar vote shares to those that the polls suggest. The SNP won all sorts of seats in that election, including all of the seats covering WA&K, Aberdeen South, Edinburgh South and Banff & Buchan. They won the Argyll & Bute seat with 50% of the vote, and probably only missed Dumfries & Galloway because of Alex Fergusson’s personal vote. Ashcroft had them tied with the Tories in DC&T a month or two ago.

    Also, the “Unionist vote” won’t rally round the Tories. I can kind of see limited tactical voting between Labour and the Lib Dems (although the coalition has hurt this), and even some Tories backing Labour over the SNP in seats like Edinbuirgh South. However, the Tories are not going to get lots of Labour votes, especially given an SNP MP will back a Labour Government, while a Tory MP obviously won’t.

  22. Guess we will just have to wait and see won’t we :-).

    I’m not predicting some kind of rampant Tory resurgence in Scotland at this election, far from it. Even as a self confessed Tory voter I don’t think there is any chance of that until they separate from the UK party and become a Scottish Centre-Right party without the word Conservative in the name.

    What I am saying is that this election is very different. There is a sliding LD vote, though I think it will hold up better than predicted. LAB have finally realised in Scotland that the Tories are not public enemy number one for them here and that mantra goes to the SNP. The SNP previous strongholds are more right wing than where SNP policy is taking them which could alienate some of their core voters. Scotland is also in the midst of a huge poltical enlightenment following the indy ref.

    With all of these facets in play it is a fascinating election both UK and locally in Scotland and I can’t wait to see it play out regardless of the result. I think we don;t just have a case of “Shy Tory” voters, I think we have “Shy Labour” and “Shy LD” as well which aren’t being reflected in the polls.

    I’ve put my colours to the mast and estimated the seat numbers, have some fun and do the same!

  23. Something like

    SNP 44%
    Labour 28%
    Tories 17%
    Lib Dems 6%

    with (for seats)

    SNP mid 40s
    Labour about 10
    Lib Dems 1-3
    Tories 0-2

    although the most recent polls suggest the SNP could do even better.

    I think Labour may keep some unionist seats, like Edinburgh South, just based on tactical voting and limited ceiling for the SNP, and there’s the odd one, like Glasgow NW that’s just too ultra-safe for the SNP this time. They’ll probably also have a few survivors on the basis of luck and a bit of a personal vote.

    The Lib Dems will get Orkney and Shetland, and I think Ross, Skye and Lochaber is pretty close to 50-50 with the SNP. Berwickshire is hard to call as well. If I had to choose, I’d go for a narrow Lib Dem hold, with the Tories second and the SNP in a pretty close third.

    The Tories are probably favourites in DC&T, although with a poll putting them and the SNP dead level, either result wouldn’t be a shock. I think Russell Brown holds D&G for Labour in the end. I think he works the seat pretty hard, and has something of a personal vote, and he may end up collecting tactical votes from both sides to keep the SNP/Tories out.

  24. That’s an interesting prediction @Simon, good analysis on some of the marginals and I agree they could go either way and tactical voting will play a part in the final outcome. I think you overestimate the SNP seat share, I agree with your popular opinion percentage for them but I don;t think it will gain them that number of seats.

    LAB must be kicking themselves just now, they have a really well run campaign going for them down south which just isn’t translating north of the border.

    Another interesting thing UK wide is that the LD slide isn’t having a net positive effect on the LAB vote share as many would think it would.

  25. @ Simon – that’s a little ambitious for the SNP. This isn’t referendum 2.0, just remember that the Green vote could eat away at that 45% Yes vote (they seem to be polling around the 4-5% mark in Scotland) and that former Yes voters will probably have a slightly lower turnout vs. No voters.

    I don’t think the current polls for Scotland are all that reflective of how the election will pan out given the insurgence in SNP/Green membership will imo result in increased activism among Yes-voters on online pollsters etc.

  26. There’s not really a divergence in results between online, face-to-face and telephone polling though. My own view is support for independence has probably ticked up a little since September – most polls are registering something like 48% rather than 45%, and that the Greens will only get 1-2% in most seats. Also, the SNP have a distinct activist advantage now, which ought to help them to get their vote out more effectively.

    Also, pollsters already take into account likelihood to vote, so the polls should already be taking any differential turnout into account.

  27. According to certain sections of the internet, Populus have been carrying out constituency polling in a number of Scottish seats. Maybe we’ll get a third round of Ashcroft before the election – Populus are his constituency pollsters of choice. Some of the seats are those that Ashcroft found to be very close before (DC&T, Glasgow SW, East Ren and Ross, Skye and Lochaber) and the others are ones that might be a bit of a stretch for the SNP (Edinburgh North & Leith, and South, and East Dunbartonshire, Berwickshire, and NE Fife).

  28. (Breakdown of my prediction/guestimate)

    LAB gain (0)

    LAB hold (20) –
    * Aberdeen South
    * Airdrie and Shotts
    * Dunfermline and West Fife
    * East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow
    * East Lothian
    * Edinburgh East
    * Edinburgh North and Leith
    * Edinburgh South
    * Glasgow North East
    * Glasgow North West
    * Glasgow South West
    * Glenrothes
    * Lanark and Hamilton East
    * Livingston
    * Midlothian
    * Renfrewshire East
    * Renfrewshire North and Paisley
    * Renfrewshire South and Paisley
    * Rutherglen and Hamilton West
    * Stirling

    CON gain from LAB (1) –
    * Dumfries & Galloway

    CON gain from LIB (1) –
    * Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

    CON hold (1) –
    * Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

    LIB hold (1) –
    * Orkney and Shetland

    SNP gain from LAB (20) –
    * Aberdeen North
    * Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock
    * Ayrshire Central
    * Ayrshire North and Arran
    * Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill
    * Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East
    * West Dunbartonshire
    * Dundee West
    * Edinburgh South West
    * Falkirk
    * Glasgow Central
    * Glasgow East
    * Glasgow North
    * Glasgow South
    * Inverclyde
    * Kilmarnock and Loudoun
    * Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath
    * Linthgow and Falkirk East
    * Motherwell and Wishaw
    * Ochil and South Perthshire

    SNP gain from LIB (9) –
    * Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine
    * Argyll and Bute
    * Caithness, Sunderland and Easter Ross
    * East Dunbartonshire
    * Edinburgh West
    * Gordon
    * Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey
    * North East Fife
    * Ross, Skye and Lochaber

    SNP hold (6)
    * Angus
    * Buchan and Banff
    * Dundee East
    * Moray
    * Na H-Eileanan An Iar (Western Isles)
    * Perth and North Perthshire

    Comment – I’m very unsure about the fate of Airdrie & Shotts, Linlithgow & Falkirk East, Stirling, Aberdeen South and Ross, Skye & Lochaber. From what I gather the Falkirk East seat seems relatively affluent, yet it has every sign of going SNP despite having a pretty united unionist support for Labour. I really can’t tell about Airdrie and Shotts, the referendum breakdowns for North Lanarkshire are so obscure that it’s difficult to tell whether the area voted for or against independence.

  29. I think you’re significantly too optimistic for Labour in Lothian. West Lothian has long been a decent area for the SNP and they’ve held both the Scottish Parliament seats for some time. I can’t really see them doing badly there.

    Edinburgh East was much more pro-Yes than the rest of the city (47% in favour of independence). The only thing that I think could save Labour is a large Green vote that comes disproportionately from pro-independence people. I think North & Leith will be very close, but I’d plump for the SNP if I had to choose. South, I think Labour might just hang on. East Lothian was only Labour by 70 votes in 2011, with ex-leader Iain Grey as the candidate, so I think that will be very close as well.

  30. @ Simon the average for Scottish independence polls conducted this year:

    No 46.5 (-8.8)
    Yes 44.8 (+0.1)
    Don’t Know 8.83

    This was similar to polls conducted around the time of the referendum suggesting no or very little change in public opinion on the matter compared with then and now.

    I disagree entirely.

    Interesting thing to note here:
    * From the period of 18 September to 31 December 2014-
    SNP Scottish opinion poll average – 44.75%
    Hypothetical referendum intention for ‘Yes’ – 47%

    * From 1 January to 15 April 2015 –
    SNP Scottish opinion poll average – 46.3%
    Hypothetical referendum intention for ‘Yes’ – 44.8%

    (Averages derived from FULL sample Scottish polls).

    Spotted might be right in suggesting that there’s a progressive bias in polls, it just seems to be natural given that those who support independence for Scotland are typically more politically active than those supporting the Union, and as such they could influence opinion polling as was experienced prior to the referendum. A similar bias exists/has existed elsewhere such as in Quebec – prior to their referendum almost all polls indicated a pretty solid Yes vote, when the actual result was a very marginal No.

    I would again stress that the polls taken immediately around and after the independence referendum would therefore provide a more accurate reflection on public opinion by comparison to those taken nearer the election – I could be wrong but last time my assumption was that a similar bias existed in the polls and that the result of the referendum would in fact be 55% No 45% Yes.

  31. @ Simon –

    Edinburgh East – Down the bottom end of what I would likely expect Labour to hold, however the area has demonstrated a large level of Green support in the past, this coupled with a low turnout in the area could allow Labour to cling onto the seat.

    Edinburgh North & Leith – I think this is probably one of the most likely seats to go Labour in my opinion, it’s not had much Tory support in the past, I think it houses quite a large number of Edinburgh’s Green councillors and has among the highest Green support in the city – it voted quite strongly No for an area with quite a large working class population and the equivalent 2011 was held by Labour in the Scottish parliament. I would honestly be pretty surprised to see the SNP gain this seat.

    East Lothian – the 2011 election differs from this one, in that areas such as Glasgow seem more likely to have a higher % SNP vote whilst areas where we saw the SNP perform better in such as in Edinburgh look to be in my view more likely to vote Labour. East Lothian again voted strongly against independence, it has a reasonable Tory support probably derived from the affluent parts of the constituency such as North Berwick but given that it voted so strongly against independence I believe that the Labour vote in the area is alot stronger than in parts of Greater Glasgow – possibly due to it’s proximity to Edinburgh, the borders and England. It’s near the top of what I’d expect Labour to hold, it’s had a history of voting Labour, and given that it voted Labour in 2011 I see no reason why it won’t do so this time around – 2011 was a Scottish election, these tend to have better results for the SNP compared to the Unionist parties, also it had a much higher turnout among nationalist supporters. I believe the green vote will also play a part in bringing down the SNP vote, which wasn’t the case in 2011.

  32. @NTY UK

    Labour would have been helped in East Lothian in 2011 by having the Scottish leader there (Iain Gray). In fact, I suspect any other Labour candidate would have lost that seat. But you are right to say it is one of the much more difficult seats for the SNP to take.

  33. Minor point – In the 2014 EU parliament elections the Greens performed best in the Edinburgh City Council area compared to elsewhere in Scotland with 16% of the vote vs the national average of 8%.

    @ James – that’s true, I’d assume his majority was unstable and upheld by his personal vote, but the area still voted significantly more for the Labour Party compared to Scotland as a whole.

  34. @ NTY UK – I give you kudos for predicting the results in each individual seat, impressive and you’re numbers aren’t a million miles from my estimate.

    Still think you have the SNP too high though!

  35. @ Lesser – The only seats which I’ve allocated the SNP where I could see a “fight” would be along some of the Lib Dem’s and Linthgow and Falkirk East, I might have overlooked some of the seats in North Lanarkshire and Glasgow though.

    The Lib Dem’s could get lucky and hold one or two Highland seats, and perhaps Labour could gain West Dunbartonshire and Edinburgh West – but I’m doubtful over this.

  36. NTY UK

    I disagree with a number of the predictions you’ve made there, but seats I can’t possibly see Labour holding out of those are:
    – East Kilbride
    – Lanark & Hamilton East
    – Livingston

    Labour’s campaign in East Kilbride is in tatters. The local party is split and a number of local councillors (who in many areas are Labour’s only ground troops) have said they’d rather campaign in other seats than campaign for McCann. In 2011, popular MSP Andy Kerr was ousted on a big swing, and the swing against an unpopular MSP in McCann is likely to be several times greater. The demographics and politics of the seat are perhaps similar to Cumbernauld, which most people are predicting to go comfortably SNP.

    As mentioned above, West Lothian is very much SNP territory now. The incumbent in Livingston enjoys little popularity, and the only reason the swing in Livingston would be lower than in other similar seats is that the SNP are already reasonably well positioned here.

    Lanark & Hamilton East – Its part of a large part of Lanarkshire where polling has shown a big swing from SNP to Labour (Motherwell, Cumbernauld, Airdrie). In the 2011 Scottish Elections, the SNP won both Clydesdale and Hamilton with relative ease. It would be a shock of they didn’t win it this time.

    It seems strange that you’re forecasting Coatbridge to go SNP and seats such as those mentioned above to stay Labour.

  37. l’m inclined to agree with Simon. Sadly, l can’t currently see Labour holding Edinburgh E, Livingston or E Kilbride, and have severe doubts about several others, including the Paisley seats & Airdrie/Shotts. In particular, l think the SNP are likely to do even better in Livingston than in Linlithgow & E Falkirk, though l think they’ll get both. Glenrothes, Midlothian & Stirling all look very hard for Labour to hold too, though not impossible.
    Lesserspottedscottishtory – there is absolutely no way that the Tories will get even remotely close to gaining Aberdeen S from Labour, no matter how many times they’ve won it in the past. l really wonder what planet some of the Scottish Tory supporters here inhabit. Some very tenuous evidence that the Tories are doing, in terms of lost share of the vote, less disastrously than Scottish Labour, and we get all sorts of outlandish predictions. In the real world, they have a chance in Berwickshire, DC & T which they already hold, and at an absolute stretch Dumfries & Galloway if they are incredibly lucky & the SNP & Labour are virtually tied there. Anywhere else, and l will eat not only my own hat but at least one other person’s.

  38. @ NTYUK Several points to make. Firstly, most independence figures are presented with don’t knows removed. 47-45 would likely end up as something like 51-49 in that case, which is a good bit closer than September’s result.

    On the Edinburgh seats, North & Leith includes areas like the New Town, Stockbridge and Trinity, so it does have a significant core Tory vote – not nearly enough to win, but I’d be surprised if they fell further than their current 15% – I think there was substantial tactical voting for the Lib Dems in 2005 and 2010 which will unwind a bit now. There is significant Green support in elections when it makes sense – for the Council and on the list for the Scottish Parliament – but I’d be surprised if that translated into a substantial vote in a Westminster election. Anecdotally, people I know who tend that way politically are not really considering voting Green right now.

    I think Labour should have lost the Holyrood seat in 2011, but held on narrowly on the basis of Malcolm Chisholm’s personal vote. Mark Lazarowicz is well respected, but isn’t liked in the way that Chisholm is, and won’t have the same personal vote.

    I suppose to sum it up, I think Labour kept N&L and East Lothian on personal votes in 2011. Given that the SNP’s general position is as strong now as it was then, I think they are well in contention in both seats. If these two are very close, then Edinburgh East will be an SNP gain, and Midlothian will lean that way too.

    I also think it’s an error to think that the Labour vote is more stable in more strongly unionist areas. Most very unionist areas are very unionist because they have a lot of Tories and Liberals, relatively speaking and relatively few SNP voters. You yourself predicted, for example, the Tories to win Dumfries and Galloway from Labour. That isn’t possible if the Labour vote in such a pro-union area is pretty stable.

  39. I am unsure about East Lothian. As Simon alludes to, several factors point to an SNP win in the seat. The fact Labour only held the Holyrood seat in 2011 due to an incumbency factor; the fact Musselburgh, which is generally more SNP-friendly, is included in the Holyrood seat; the fact the SNP have a candidate with a media profile; and the fact that the Unionist vote is largely divided, with a strong Tory and Lib Dem vote in some areas in recent years.

    However, there are local factors at play here, such as the status of the power station at Torness, which employs a large part of the local population. The SNP are strongly anti-nuclear, and I know this to be an issue among those in the seat who are fearful for their families’ jobs.

    There will also be a reason why Election Forecast and the YouGov Nowcast are forcasting this as a Labour win and too close to call, respectively.

    I have the feeling that East Lothian and Dunfermline could be the two seats that resist the swing to stay Labour (along with a handful of other “safer” Labour seats, of course).

  40. @ Barnaby – That’s a bit harsh. I might be a Tory voter, but in terms of elections I’m not trying to put any kind of Tory spin on it, in that sense I’m just an election geek that like others here is trying to figure out how national swings will show up in local areas. I live in Aberdeen South Constituency and I know the demographics of the seat very well. I suspect Anne Begg may hold on for LAB due to the fact she is popular personally ( I don’t know why as I have never seen her do anything for the area – but that is a personal opinion).

    But, if there is as forecast nationally in Scotland a large drop in the LAB vote that is reflected in Aberdeen South, coupled with a deserting of the LD’s it could become a three way marginal between LAB, CON and SNP. As I have stated, a lot of LD’s here are tactical anti Labour voting Tories so some will naturally go to their party of choice in the face of an LD collapse. Others (more of them I predict) will move to the SNP meaning the seat could be a lot closer than you think.

    I’ve stated in other posts that I’m not predicting some miraculous turn around in the Tory vote, I think it will be stagnant at around 17-18%. What I do think will happen is that there will be an increase in the Tory vote in areas where there is a solid Tory base (of which Aberdeen South is one area) and decline in areas where there is a legacy LAB solid majority now under threat by the SNP.

  41. @ Simon – I tend to include DK’s, but the suggestions are very comparable to that of those prior to the referendum, which again held a slight bias for Yes when DK’s are considered.

    What I’m suggesting is that given the limited scope of the Tory/LD vote in East Lothian and the affluence in the area it’s my belief that the Labour vote in the area is more stronger than that of Glasgow, ie. less soft and also more pro-union. In Edinburgh the picture is a little more fragmented, but Edinburgh N&L has a strong Lib-Lab vote and it’s my inclination that a large number of the LD votes will transfer to the Labour incumbent given that the Liberal Democrats have historically been politically closer to Labour, with LD voters in areas such as N&L tactically voting Labour.

    Also, one thing you’ve forgot to mention is that in 2011 the Greens did not stand in Edinburgh N&L, they are doing so this year, this will reduce the SNP vote. You can’t deny the Greens have performed very well in Edinburgh, so even if we assume that they only receive 6-7% of the vote in N&L this will reduce the SNP’s vote share.

    A Tory tactical vote for LD’s would probably be transferred to Labour, given that most Tories willing to vote tactically will probably be very inclined to vote for their local MP incumbent for this election to keep the SNP out.

    In my view you are underestimating the support for the Greens and overestimating turnout among Yes voters and support for the SNP in general: what seats do you assume Labour will pick up? I’m pretty sure N&L is among the most likely seats to go Labour in Scotland, certainly in the top 10 in my view. The area is one of the few to produce a high no vote, have a pretty marginal support for the tories and vote Labour in 2011.

  42. @ PIEMONTEIS
    East Kilbride:
    Looking at the East Kilbride seat it’s pretty clear that in 2010 Labour would pretty substantially, with the SNP doing quite well at 23% which was indeed above average. The area had an extremely marginal level of support for the Tories at 13% which might – if they are lucky – go up to 14%, and barely any Lib Dem votes, this will probably fall down to 3% or below. The Scottish parliament constituency of EK voted No by 54%, however, the area south of the constituency which forms part of the UK constituency and north Clydesdale appears to be relatively affluent and doesn’t seem to hold the characteristics of a Tory-voting area, as such I would assume that the area would be mostly Labour-voting. This makes up around a quarter of the seat in terms of electorate size, adding a lower turnout for those who voted Yes in the referendum pushed me towards thinking that the area would vote Labour (if we assume a No vote of 56% for the constituency as a whole then the difference from 44% Yes and 56% No would be 12% – this is roughly the same as the % Tory vote in the area, which gave me the impression that with a weak LD vote which imo could fall down to the 0.’s then that would give Labour the lead here). This was just my own feeling/assumption, and it could be that Tory voters will be more likely to vote tactically for incumbent MP in the Clydeside, Dundee and Highland areas given the EXTREME unlikelihood of a Tory gain.

    Lanark & Hamilton East:
    Uddingston and parts of eastern Hamilton are relatively affluent compared to elsewhere in Scotland, and with a Tory vote of just 15% in the area and a No vote of 54% in the SP Hamilton seat which only forms part of the constituency my instinct would be a Labour hold. Elements of Carluke and Lanark also have some affluent areas contained within them, and although the Tories do slightly better here I would assume that Labour would do well here, this is a very difficult constituency for me as I can see that the communities within the area are rather divided in terms of social class, similar to that of my own constituency, this would benefit the SNP, but given that it’s in Clydeside I would have considered it to be a possible Labour seat.

    Livingston:
    Yeah, I’m very unsure with Livingston. After looking at the constituency again I would probably revise my estimate to an SNP gain with Labour instead holding Linlithgow and East Falkirk – I don’t have much knowledge regarding the Falkirk-West Lothian area.

  43. @ BARNABY MARDER – I feel as though Renfrew South & Paisley will go Labour, perhaps I was wrong with the northern seat, but despite a Yes vote in Paisley, southern Paisley quite affluent, it’s a hard call!

  44. @NTY UK – there are a lot of tough calls this election! There are so many votes out there available it’s really tough to call as the actual seats could be so different to what a popular vote percentage indicate. The SNP flying high and also getting positive press UK wide just increases the uncertainty. That being said it’s easy to sound good when you are proposing just increasing the country’s credit card limit while every main UK party has to deal with the realism of needing some kind of deficit reduction. They could suffer a huge backlash as regardless of what they say they won’t get their way, next election they could be Lib Dems mark 2!

  45. @ Lesser – I’m not claiming to know the results at all, just my suggestion, it’s clearly got some overlooked points eg. Livingston, Renfrewshire.

    I prefer micromanagement, but based on what I know and what seems possible, there are some seats which are very predictable/easy to call – eg. Orkney and Shetland, Dundee West.

    From a Conservative perspective given the current boundaries I feel as though 3 constituencies (Dumfries & Galloway, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale and Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk) is the limit based on the current political climate and what opinion polls and previous election have shown us. Whilst they might perform well in constituencies such as Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine/East Renfrewshire I can’t personally see a Conservative victory as the margins are too wide and stacked against them. If it’s any consolation to you I’d image that south-west Aberdeen will vote majority Conservative. There’s a vain possibility that West Aberdeen & Kincardine could go Conservative given that it’s very affluent but I strongly suggest otherwise.

    In SP constituency boundaries I’m sure the Tories would hold/gain all their current and target seats in the Scottish parliament in this election – perhaps this reflects how hard done by they are under the current arrangement in which some areas were deliberately manufactured to be Labour seats (eg. Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock and Central Ayrshire. The Tory targets/current seats are by Con majority/target- Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire, Ayr, Galloway & West Dumfries, Edinburgh Pentlands, Eastwood and Dumfriesshire).

    A note, if what I believe is right and that the Tories would have three Scottish seats after May this would be 5% of the Scottish seats, whilst if the SP boundaries were used (note that there are more SP constituencies, meaning that some would not really be suitable under a Westminister election eg. Eastwood couldn’t really be made into a proper constituency without going Lab) then they would hypothetically pick up 8.2% of the constituency seats, even with 16-18% of the vote.

  46. “In SP constituency boundaries I’m sure the Tories would hold/gain all their current and target seats in the Scottish parliament in this election”

    In fact, the most recent Survation poll for the Scottish Parliament has the Conservatives losing Galloway & W. Dumfries, and Ayr. That would only leave them with one seat – Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire.

  47. Piemonteis is that on uns or have they done actual constituency polls? Though I do agree they would have a tough time holding Ayr and Galloway and West Dumfries. But a year is a very long time in politics and the SNP surge may have cooled a bit by then.

  48. @ Pie – that’s applying a national swing and is 1 poll (I don’t know what the average for the polls are for 2017 at the moment, so I won’t be surprised if the general consensus among pollsters is a Tory loss in Ayr/Dumfries and Galloway): this is my own opinion not fact, it would be [me] assuming that the Tories get result of 18% in Scotland. For the Scottish parliament the results and opinion polls have been worse for the Tories, but for the next election atm I think the most likely outcome will be pretty much the same as last year for the party, perhaps picking up Dumfriesshire if the Labour vote falls apart. I haven’t paid particular focus to the 2017 election so I wouldn’t doubt it if I’m wrong. Applying my prediction to Scotland votes would suggest Tories picking up the 6 seats.

  49. @ Pepper – Ayr has historically remained mysteriously pretty strongly Tory across the years, but the SNP picked up alot of votes in the List section of the vote for the area, I think it would be a close fight but based on my notional referendum figures it looks like the Tories have a pretty good edge, however this would no doubt be undermined by a lower turnout for supporters of unionist parties in 2017: it’s very difficult to say whether or not turnout figures will be similar to 2011 with a higher SNP turnout due to the referendum, however, as the area has a high Tory presence it wouldn’t surprise me if Tory voters came out in force come 2017 in opposition to independence.

  50. 2016* sorry getting confused with local elections on the dates! There’s been no constituency polls for the Ayr area other than the Lord Ashcroft poll for the UK Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock seat.

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