Banff & Buchan

2015 Result:
Conservative: 13148 (28.8%)
Labour: 2647 (5.8%)
Lib Dem: 2347 (5.1%)
SNP: 27487 (60.2%)
MAJORITY: 14339 (31.4%)

Category: Very safe SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, North East. Part of Aberdeenshire council area.

Main population centres: Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Rosehearty, Banff, Turriff, Macduff, Portsoy, Aberchirder,.

Profile: A largely coastal seat in the north of Aberdeenshire. Peterhead and Fraserburgh are major fishing ports.

Politics: Banff and Buchan was most associated with Alex Salmond, its MP for 23 years between 1987 and 2010. Under Salmond the seat was eventually built into an extremely safe SNP stronghold. Salmond himself returned as the MP for neighbouring Gordon in 2015.

Current MP
EILIDH WHITEFORD (Scottish National Party) Born 1969, Aberdeen. Educated at Banff Academy and Glasgow University. Former campaigns manager. First elected as MP for Banff and Buchan in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 11841 (31%)
Lab: 5382 (14%)
LDem: 4365 (11%)
SNP: 15868 (41%)
Oth: 1010 (3%)
MAJ: 4027 (10%)
Con: 7207 (19%)
Lab: 4476 (12%)
LDem: 4952 (13%)
SNP: 19044 (51%)
Oth: 1537 (4%)
MAJ: 11837 (32%)
Con: 6207 (20%)
Lab: 4363 (14%)
LDem: 2769 (9%)
SNP: 16710 (54%)
Oth: 757 (2%)
MAJ: 10503 (34%)
Con: 9564 (24%)
Lab: 4747 (12%)
LDem: 2398 (6%)
SNP: 22409 (56%)
Oth: 1060 (3%)
MAJ: 12845 (32%)

2015 Candidates
ALEX JOHNSTONE (Conservative) Born 1961, Kincardineshire. Educated at Mackie Academy. Former dairy farmer. Contested West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine 2005, 2010. MSP for North East Scotland since 1999.
SUMON HOQUE (Labour) Born 1982. Educated at Aberdeen University. Businessman.
DAVID EVANS (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 197 Responses on “Banff & Buchan”
  1. I don’t know. My brain says the majority is probably a bridge too far but my gut is feeling that the Tories will gain this seat.

    Pins and needles!

  2. It would be an incredible gain, needing almost a 16% swing from SNP to Conservative with no other parties having any sort of vote to squeeze.

  3. The Conservative manifesto yesterday will definitely not go unnoticed in this seat or in Moray or Aberdeen – by which I am referring to the pledge to drop the London Fisheries agreement which has allowed EU countries to fish in UK waters for many years.

    Got to swing a few waverers into the blue column I would think.

  4. Struggle to see this as a Conservative gain- the constituency poll from Edinburgh South indicates that Brexit has only impacted roughly 3% of the vote at the very most, even doubling that for Banff & Buchan the SNP would be on over 45% of the vote. Tories only managed 35% in the locals here on a national vote share of 25%, where they are currently averaging at 29% in the opinion polls in Scotland. So it will require double the national swing from the locals to gain, but there was a big Independent vote in the area at the locals which should go more towards the Tories.

    Certainly an interesting constituency which does have the potential to go Conservative on an extremely great night for them alongside Central Ayrshire, but right now I just can’t see it happening.

  5. Saw news from somewhere online that suggested the Yes vote here was artificially high as many people voted that way to try and improve the prospects of the fishing industry. I think in a seat like this, Brexit will play a very significant factor, quite apart from the rest of Scotland which may be more competitive on a nationalist/unionist basis.

  6. Con gain by over 3000

  7. If Sir Albert McQuarrie is up there in the sky, I bet he had a wry smile to himself when the deceleration of the result was made.

  8. Alex Salmond has indicated his desire to stand again claiming that he has won 9 out of 10 elections.

    I think he would have a much better chance in Banff & Buchan than in Gordon. The former was lost on Brexit while the latter was lost on the former Lib Dem unionist vote collapsing.

    The latter has also had more longevity as an SNP seat. 1974 to 1979 and 1987 to 2017 whereas the former has only been SNP for two years.

  9. More likely he will be standing in Aberdeen Donside, Aberdeenshire East or Banffshire and Buchan Coast at the Scottish Parliament, being the first or second member on the SNP’s regional list for the North East of Scotland.

    For the time being there is a good chance that he will not win on the constituency ballot in Aberdeenshire East or Banffshire and Buchan Coast, but that he will be returned as a regional list MSP for North East Scotland.

  10. The Scots Parliament elections are not for another couple years but do you see SNP rule come to an end?

  11. @Matt Wilson – Possibly.

    It is almost inevitable that the present SNP-Green majority in the Scottish Parliament will evaporate at the next Scottish Parliamentary election and that pro-UK parties will together command a majority in the next Scottish Parliament, which will undermine Nicola Sturgeon’s credibility having called for a second referendum on Scottish independence with the implicit understanding that it was what the majority of Scottish voters wanted.

    Alex Salmond’s losing speech and subsequent comments following the general election suggests to me that he intends to return as leader of the SNP after Nicola Sturgeon resigns, which will presumably be sometime after the next Scottish Parliamentary election.

    What is less clear though is which party will end up in government after the next Scottish Parliament election and how well (or otherwise) Labour will perform.

    The Conservatives should remain fairly static relative to the general election, falling back more in areas where they are not competitive due to pro-Labour/pro-Lib Dem tactical voting and increasing their vote more around Argyll and Inverness-shire. They are poised to take a majority of constituency seats in the North East Scotland and South Scotland electoral regions at the next Scottish Parliament election as they did at the general election, also making gains in both Perthshire constituencies and in Moray. If they can improve upon their vote from the general election key targets for the party would include Aberdeen Central and Edinburgh Pentlands.

    The big question will be how well Labour perform at the next Scottish Parliamentary election. If they can build upon the success of the general election then they could be looking at a string of gains across Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, Midlothian and Fife. Key to winning the most constituency seats in Scotland would be gaining constituencies between Falkirk and Livingston: an area which was shaping up to become something of an SNP heartland before the 2017 general election. Even a slight swing on the general election from the SNP to Labour could potentially bag Labour constituencies like Airdrie & Shotts, Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn, Glasgow Pollok, Motherwell & Wishaw and Kirkcaldy.

    The Lib Dems likely to retain their four constituency seats and gain Caithness, Sutherland & Ross, losing their regional list MSP in the North East giving them a net change of zero.

    SNP will sweep up what’s left: they are still relatively strong in Dundee, Kilmarnock, East Kilbride, Glenrothes and parts of the Highlands, although vulnerable in many areas. I recently read an article in the New Statesman claiming that a senior SNP MP close to leadership believes that the party are only safe in three seats should another snap election be called, with another saying if the election were held on Friday then their constituency would have gone Labour as it was “one-way traffic to Labour”.

    Once you factor in the regional list vote the likely outcome of the next Scottish Parliament election will be that the SNP will be the largest party but left with a significantly reduced majority vulnerable to any team ups by the Conservatives and Labour. Three possible outcomes in this event would be an SNP minority government, SNP-Labour coalition or a Labour minority government brought into power through the Conservatives and Labour rejecting an SNP minority but the Conservatives then going to vote in a Labour minority.

    Labour could almost certainly end up as the largest party though, so I would watch the next couple of Scottish opinion polls cloesly.

  12. Can you geniunely see Labour doing deals with the SNP or Conservatives?

  13. I also think the Greens are going to be an interesting and increasingly influential force, though. It seemed that a lot of left-wing yes-voters plumped for Labour last month, feeling that the SNP were too establishment, and that trumped the constitutional question. Well, at the Holyrood elections, they can have the best of both worlds, at least on the list vote. Wouldn’t at all be surprised to see them in double figures after 2021.

  14. The Greens didn’t stand in almost all the seats in Scotland in the GE

  15. “Can you geniunely see Labour doing deals with the SNP or Conservatives?”

    They don’t need to do deals with the Conservatives for the Conservatives to support them as a minority government. Any sort of Conservative-Labour pact is never going to happen, just look at the Aberdeen City Council fiasco as an example of why Labour will not go into government with the Tories. That does not mean to say that Conservative MSP’s will vote down a Labour minority government: they’ve done so on numerous occasions in local government to prevent the SNP from taking power.

    Is an SNP-Labour pact or formal coalition possible? I would say so yes, but fairly unlikely.

  16. When is the first Scottish opinion poll due that would show both Westminster and Holyrood (constituency and list) voting intentions?

  17. In theory we should be due a Holyrood opinion poll within the next few days.

  18. The Scottish cross breaks of the UK polls seem quite contradictory perhaps due to small sample sizes –


    Con 38.5%
    SNP 26.3%
    Lab 16.8%
    LD 9.1%


    Lab 36%
    SNP 31%
    Con 25%
    LD 5%

    How is it possible for them to be so different?

  19. Massive margins of error, no weighting, save your precious neurons and ignore them.

  20. It always surprises me that anyone with some fairly basic knowledge of probability does not understand the large margin of error in small sample sizes.

  21. The average of both subsamples is roughly –

    Con 32%
    SNP 29%
    Lab 27%
    LD 7%

  22. This would give Labour 23 seats, the Conservatives 22, the SNP 9 and the Lib Dems 5.

    The SNP holds would be –

    Aberdeen North
    Dundee East
    Dundee West
    Edinburgh East
    Ross Skye & Inverness West

    This illustrates how vulnerable most SNP MP’s are to any further swing against them while a small pro-SNP swing could see at least 50 SNP MPs being elected again.

  23. James E,

    Even people with qualifications in probability theory can be very poor statistical reasoners. It’s especially difficult for humans when the figures are expressed in percentages, rather than frequencies. (See Gigerenzer’s work etc.)

    For example, a lot of people think that the validity of a sample is closely tied to the size of the sample RELATIVE to the popuation size, as if a 3,000 sample out of a population 1 billion is exponentially worse than a 3,000 sample out of a population of 100,000. For example, people will often say “1,000 people out of 60 million is not a large sample”. Roughly, for crude sampling reasoning, what matters is the proportion of representative n-sized samples in ANY finite population, but combinatorics is rarely intuitive.

    That’s before you get into techniques like weighting, which are very subject-specific. I have very little knowledge of how pollsters do weighting; I just know that it matters.

    You do have cases of experimental reasoning when you can reasonably make strong inferences from small samples, e.g. estimating the approximate melting point of a compound when tested under lab conditions, but this sample data is really being combined with a lot of background knowledge from chemistry and it’s the combination of information that provides the high probability, not the small sample.

    Incidentally, many people with depression make major statistical errors: “This person rejected me, so I’m probably going to be alone forever”, “I failed at several jobs; I can’t do anything right”, “I hurt this person I love, which just proves what a POS I am” etc. etc. Learning to live by logic and probability is extremely difficult, but tremendously rewarding, and the converse can cause huge suffering.

    And that just goes to prove that inferring from subsamples of polls causes depression.

  24. Stop embarrassing yourself Dalek, I took subsamples seriously in 2015, and yet they had the SNP vote out by more than 10%! The margin of error for sub-samples is ridiculously huge because the sample size is so small (usually 100 when a full-sized poll should have around 1,000 participants) and because they have no demographic weightings.

  25. No one takes subsamples seriously

  26. They can be a ruff guide.

  27. “They can be a ruff guide.”

    Strange place to look for advice on Elizabethan neckwear…

  28. Miriam Pudrom,

    A subsample of 100 people from a population of 100 has a confidence level of about 45% given a margin of error of 3%, meaning that the subsample is expected to be unrepresentative about 65% of the time. That’s not a rough guide; it’s a pathological liar.

    That’s before one takes the weighting problems into account. Unweighted polls aren’t any better than online polls on the Daily Mail etc.

  29. * from a population of 5,000,000.

  30. (Samples of 100 people from a population of 100 are actually pretty representative.)

  31. There’s now an ICM poll out with a Scottish subsample of 35% Lab, 33% SNP, 25% Con, 4% LD.

    If we continue Dalek’s ‘average of recent subsamples’ by putting this with the YouGov and Survation percentages above it’s now pretty much 30% for each of SNP, Con, and Lab. A proper Scottish Westminster poll would be very welcome!

  32. The only people dreading an election in 2017 more than the Tories are the SNP. So many marginal Scottish constituencies now that if they have an iffy night, they get almost wiped out.

  33. It would only take a 3% swing from the SNP to Labour for the SNP to come in third place by number of seats in Scotland behind Labour and the Tories

  34. But it would also only take a 3% swing from Lab to SNP for Labour to be reduced again to 1 seat.

  35. The 3% advance for Labour is largely linked to the 10% advance for Labour in the UK. The Corbyn bubble seems to be bursting in the UK and this is likely to be reflected in Scotland to.

  36. How is “the Corbyn bubble bursting” exactly? We have had no opinion polls in Scotland yet. That is an extremely premature thing to say.

  37. A classic case of UKPR wishful thinking there (and I am not a great fan of Corbyn).

  38. Labours problem is that they have consistently polled well below 20% for the last 2 years dropping as low as 13%.

    While 27% could be a base that Scottish Labour could advance further from it could also be an unsuitable position of surge that is hard to sustain.

    Labour could still be declining like house prices where the longer trend is complete decline like the Scottish Tories did between 1955 and 1997. In 1970, 1979 and 1992 the Scottish Tory vote increased and the gained seats but the overall picture was one of decline.

    We won’t know for sure until we have a chance to study monthly polls in Scotland.

    The new three way SNP marginals of Ayrshire North & Arran, Ayrshire Central, Edinburgh South West and Lanark & Hamilton East will be fascinating. It’s amazing that Paisley North & Renfrewshire North is almost marginal.

  39. @ Dalek – The SNP’s vote has also dropped consistently since 2015, and unlike the Conservatives in 1970, 1979 and 1992, Labour made significant gains at the election, going from 1 to 7 seats and being within 1,200 votes of taking a further 6 seats.

    Let’s wait and see how the polls go before writing Scottish Labour’s chances off prematurely.

    On paper Paisley & Renfrewshire North is a three-way marginal by the way.

  40. Being close to winning seats does not mean that a party will win next time. The SNP were also within a whisker in Kinross & West Perthshire and Stirlingshire West following Oct 1974 but these did translate into SNP gains in 1979…they reverted back to being safe Unionist seats.

  41. @ Dalek – Yes, but being close to winning seats does not automatically mean that party won’t win those seats next time either! That’s irrational. Again, let’s wait and see what the opinion polls have to say about it first!

  42. Scotland is extremely volatile, even if the election were held tomorrow I wouldn’t like to guess the result.

    The problem, ironically for a party that is founded on identity, is that, with Indyref 2 off the table for the remainder of the Holyrood term, the SNP are struggling a bit for an identity at the moment. For the first time since the 2015 landslide, it seems that the SNP are reacting to events rather than owning the stage. They, not Labour, are the ones triangulating madly, pushing their platform left and right, trying to find an electoral sweet spot.

  43. This was the problem Scottish Labour had in 2016 in that they had to defend middle class or rural seats like Eastwood and Dumfries while also defend urban working class seats like Glasgow Provan and Coatbridge.

    Now Labour can focus on winning back the former constituencies abandoning the battleground in the former constituencies for the meantime.

  44. This is the same problem the SNP will have in 2021, and whenever the next Westminster election is. They will struggle to hold on in both the central belt and the highlands.

  45. Alex Salmond has resigned from the SNP.

  46. I expct this and around ten other seats in the North East of Scotland and around the Borders to be held or won by CON

  47. I’ve been looking at the Holyrood constituencies on the basis of working out whether the SNP are likely to get an overall majority next month. I do expect them to make a few constituency gains here and there; and with the exception of South Scotland any gains they make will not result in lost list seats, so on current polling I think they’re likely to do it.

    But Banffshire and Buchan Coast (whose boundaries are similar but not identical to the Westminster seat) sticks out to me as a total wild card, a place where in spite of the 23% SNP majority, they might not be entirely safe/ For a long time the SNP’s vote in the area (for both parliaments) was likely inflated by the personality of Alex Salmond, well he’s not a factor any more. It seems the SNP vote here always had a more identitarian flavour, rather than the civic nationalism the SNP has espoused under Sturgeon, and hence large parts of the electorate decamped to the Conservatives when they started expounding similar themes. And of course, it’s the most it’s the most eurosceptic part of Scotland.

    Given that the Westminster seat has gone from SNP +30 to Con +10 since the last Holyrood election, is it all that fanciful to imagine this turning blue? It is politically very unusual, I tend to think the SNP will hold the seat given their excellent general polling but it will be much closer than last time and certainly a country mile from the 49% majority the SNP got in 2011.

    Also, likely that this seat will produce the highest list vote for Alba? I think the Tories will probably win the list vote here because of the Salmond factor, though of course winning the list vote in a constituency doesn’t count for anything. (And I guess given the above reason Alba could take list votes from Tories as well as Scots Nats.)

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