East Lothian

2015 Result:
Conservative: 11511 (19.5%)
Labour: 18301 (31%)
Lib Dem: 1517 (2.6%)
SNP: 25104 (42.5%)
Green: 1245 (2.1%)
UKIP: 1178 (2%)
Independent: 158 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 6803 (11.5%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography:

Main population centres:

Profile:

Politics:


Current MP
GEORGE KEREVAN (SNP) Born 1949, Glasgow. Educated at Glasgow University. Former journalist and producer. Edinburgh councillor 1984-1996 for the Labour party. Contested Edinburgh East 2010. First elected as MP for East Lothian in 2015.
Past Results
2010
Con: 9661 (20%)
Lab: 21919 (45%)
LDem: 8288 (17%)
SNP: 7883 (16%)
Oth: 1410 (3%)
MAJ: 12258 (25%)
2005
Con: 7315 (16%)
Lab: 18983 (41%)
LDem: 11363 (25%)
SNP: 5995 (13%)
Oth: 2120 (5%)
MAJ: 7620 (17%)
2001*
Con: 6577 (18%)
Lab: 17407 (47%)
LDem: 6506 (18%)
SNP: 5381 (15%)
Oth: 1000 (3%)
MAJ: 10830 (29%)
1997
Con: 8660 (20%)
Lab: 22881 (53%)
LDem: 4575 (11%)
SNP: 6825 (16%)
Oth: 491 (1%)
MAJ: 14221 (33%)

2015 Candidates
DAVID ROACH (Conservative) Communications consultant.
FIONA O`DONNELL (Labour) Born 1960, Canada. Educated at Lochaber High School and Glasgow University. MP for East Lothian 2010 to 2015.
ETTIE SPENCER (Liberal Democrat)
OLUF MARSHALL (UKIP)
JASON ROSE (Green) Born Tranent. Head of Media for the Scottish Green party, former radio journalist.
GEORGE KEREVAN (SNP) Born 1949, Glasgow. Educated at Glasgow University. Journalist and producer. Edinburgh councillor 1984-1996 for the Labour party. Contested Edinburgh East 2010.
MIKE ALLAN (Independent)
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Comments - 112 Responses on “East Lothian”
  1. This seat will all be about who’s going to finish 2nd!

  2. It always is. All 3 of them have managed it in recent years.

  3. I haven’t lived in this seat for 20 years but here is my 2015 forecast for this seat:

    Lab 44.8
    SNP 24.6
    Con 17.7
    LD 7.9
    Others 5

  4. This is one of the only seats where I can see the SNP vote really struggling to push on.

    If we think back to the Holyrood elections, Iain Gray held onto the corresponding seat by limiting the swing to the SNP to around 5%.

    It went largely uncommented on, but I don’t think this hold was because it was the Labour leader’s seat, but rather because of Torness power station.

    The impression I get is that the Lib Dem vote will crumble and will largely go Labour rather than the anti-nuclear SNP. The Tories might also benefit if they put up an anti-windfarm candidate.

  5. That’s very interesting to hear.

    I left East Linton 20 years ago but enjoy walks there at the weekend.

  6. I tried to calculate how ‘Berwickshire & East Lothian’ would have voted in 2010 –

    I know that before 1983 that Mussleburgh was in Edinburgh East but was not certain in ‘Fa’side’ and ‘Prestonpans, Seton &Gosford’ were previously in Midlothian or B & EL?

    With ‘Fa’side’ and ‘Prestonpans, Seton &Gosford’ –

    E 80929

    Lab 17868
    Con 14010
    LD 13117
    SNP 7416
    Others 1118

    Lab Maj 3858

    Without ‘Fa’side’ and ‘Prestonpans, Seton &Gosford’ –

    Con 11633
    LD 10651
    Lab 8196
    SNP 4451
    Others 1006

    Con maj 982

    Regardless of which boundaries above would be correct, Berwickshire & East Lothian has moved far less to Labour (given that it had a Labour MP in 1979) than Scotland as a whole.

    I assume that it has become popular to Tory voting types (private commerce) who have moved out of Edinburgh, with the city itself becoming more dominated by middle class public sector workers?

  7. Without ‘Fa’side’ and ‘Prestonpans, Seton &Gosford’ the electorate would now be 54337, so given the pre-1983 electorate much of ‘Fa’side’ and ‘Prestonpans, Seton &Gosford’ is likely to have been included.

  8. I’m expecting a narrow SNP gain here.

  9. Seat preview in the Evening News:

    http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/politics/election-constituency-profile-east-lothian-1-3753267

    Having George Kerevan stand in this seat may work very well for the SNP, as this is potentially a seat that could buck the trend (reasonable Tory and Lib Dem vote).

    It sounds like Labour are really targeting the tactical vote here, and my gut says it could work with anti-SNP Lib Dems.

    Potential Tories may also back Labour if they are passionate about getting rid of wind farms and keeping nuclear (two areas where their position is completely contrary to the SNP).

    Much will depend on how big the Lab -> SNP swing is in the Fa’side towns of Wallyford and Tranent, as well as Prestonpans. The future of the Cockenzie site may well play a role in the latter:
    http://www.eastlothiancourier.com/news/prestonpans/articles/2015/03/30/528865-campaigners-delight-at-cockenzie-energy-park-decision/
    http://www.theplanner.co.uk/news/cruise-ship-terminal-plan-unveiled-for-power-site-north-of-edinburgh

  10. Seat preview in the Evening News:
    http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/politics/election-constituency-profile-east-lothian-1-3753267

    Having George Kerevan stand in this seat may work very well for the SNP, as this is potentially a seat that could buck the trend (reasonable Tory and Lib Dem vote).

    It sounds like Labour are really targeting the tactical vote here, and my gut says it could work with anti-SNP Lib Dems.

    Potential Tories may also back Labour if they are passionate about getting rid of wind farms and keeping nuclear (two areas where their position is completely contrary to the SNP).

    Much will depend on how big the Lab -> SNP swing is in the Fa’side towns of Wallyford and Tranent, as well as Prestonpans. The future of the Cockenzie site may well play a role in the latter:

  11. Labour Hold

  12. Senior Labour strategist Ayesha Hazarika is apparently applying for section in the East Lothian constituency for 2020.

    Together with East Renfrewshire and Edinburgh North & Leith, East Lothian is one of the three least unwinnable seats for Labour in Scotland.

    “I am currently one of the candidates for the Westminster selection in East Lothian.”
    http://ayeshahazarika.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-me.html

    I wonder whether Scottish Labour is adopting a strategy of targeting 6 to 12 constituencies rather than 40 seats for 2020.

    If Ayesha Hazarika is selected here, much of her prospects will be determined Iain Greys ability to defend his small majority in the equivalent Holyrood seat in May.

  13. It is too early to say what LAB prospects are in Scotland in 2020. The SNP bubble may burst, it may not or at a stretch Scotland could be independent. I’m not sure Tory tactical voting for LAB candidates (Jim Murphy was an exception this time in East Renfrewshire because of his high profile and strong repuatation) is that likely though – most Tories rather enjoy LAB getting a hammering, even if they aren’t particularly fans of the SNP.

  14. Dalek, did you watch Marr this morning? It can’t be a coincidence that you bring Ayesha up as she is doing the paper review.

  15. Yes, following this morning, I checked out her Twitter account and found the reference to her putting herself forward to East Lothian.

  16. Hazarika’s comment in her blog refers to the 2010 selection

  17. Given that there are boundary changes between now and 2020 it would be lunacy for any party to be selecting candidates for current constituencies.

  18. Thanks for the clarification Andrea.

  19. Chris Hanretty has a forecast out suggesting Labour will win this seat at the SP election, along with Dumfriesshire, Edinburgh Central, Uddingston and Bellshill, Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, and Glasgow Pollok. I’m afraid I’m wholly unconvinced.

    http://electionforecast.scot/smds.html

  20. Glasgow Pollok is total nonsense. I assume he is of the opinion that Lamonts incubancy will preserve her 800 majority against the 10000 + lead the SNP had in the area last May. She is also being challenged by a charismatic Glasgow list MSP.

  21. Ha….he is also predicting that the SNP will oust Lamont in Berwickshire. The Tories would have won on the Holyrood boundaries that exclude Galashiels last May.

    Why would the Conservatives gain Eastwood but lose Berwickshire?

    I also don’t see the Lib Dems taking Aberdeenshire West when they came third behind the Conservatives in that area last May.

  22. The forecast takes into account past trends… i.e. what is driving Labour holding seats is that his model assumes polls have exaggerated change since the last election. This may be a reasonably effective model in normal circumstances but I think it is very silly to apply it to Scotland where there has evidently been a realignment and it is enormously unlikely that Labour will poll the 23% he is predicting.

    Having said all that, the best GE forecast last year (Fisher et al., though they were the best of a bad bunch rather than getting it spot on) was the most ridiculed on here.

  23. In fact looking more closely maybe 23% isn’t so unrealistic… the main reason he’s predicting LAB holds may, then, be that he is extrapolating swings from 2011, when notional swings from 2015 would be much more sensible.

  24. 23% isn’t unrealistic for Labour but the distribution of votes is ludicrous. If the Tories win Eastwood, they’ll likely pick up Dumfriesshire, and will certainly hold Berwickshire. Similarly, the chances of the Lib Dems winning Aberdeenshire West, but not Edinburgh Western are very low. On East Lothian, given that Labour won the Holyrood seat with a double digit majority and there has clearly been a further swing to the SNP since 2011, it’s hard to see how a model suggests a Labour hold.

    The problem is that the prediction is inconsistent – not that it’s pro-one party or the other, but just that there is virtually no way that it can come true, and you’d expect anyone with a vague knowledge of Scottish politics to realise that.

    I suspect they are over-weighting the influence of their local data from TNS, which must have pretty small sample sizes.

  25. Interesting that there was actually an SNP-LAB swing here. Very different from last year. Any particular local factor in play?

  26. Hidden amidst the gloomy headlines is the fact that Labour, against most expectations, held on to a handful of constituencies, including this one. It does suggest that they might gain one or two back from the SNP in 2020.

  27. The SNP result this time reminds me a bit of the Labour landslide in 2001 or the Tory one in 1983.

    Big win but a bit lacklustre when you pour over the votes.
    It’s good to see the odd SNP member being decapitated.

  28. sorry I don’t really use that phrase.

  29. I should add – I think Ian Gray suffered a bit in 2011 from the poor result then, and has bounced back.

    In any case, the East Lothian question will be resumed in the fullness of time.

  30. Interesting movement on the regional vote in East Lothian.

    Firstly, and not particularly surprisingly, the Conservatives beat Labour into second place in the constituency with 27.8% to Labour’s 26.3%, which shows that Conservative->Labour tactical voting was decisive in keeping Iain Gray his seat, by boosting his figure to 37.8%.

    Secondly, the SNP list vote was 33.5%, compared to the 34.8% achieved in the constituency. In addition, the Greens won 6.8% of the list vote.

    The latter suggests one of three things:
    A. The Greens predominantly supported Iain Gray in the constituency.
    B. A segment of those voting SNP on the list joined some of those voting Green on the list to back Iain Gray.
    C. A percentage of would-be Labour or Conservative voters lent their vote to Sarah Beattie-Smith on the list, who has strong ties with Dunbar.

  31. The boundaries seem more generous to the Conservatives than the Westminster seat, as it excludes Musselburgh, meaning the North Berwick coast and Dunbar carry greater weight compared to the traditional Labour strongholds of Wallyford, Tranent and Port Seton.

  32. Guessing this would have been very close indeed with Musselburgh included.

  33. Generally speaking the rural eastern portion of the constituency around North Berwick, Dunbar and East Linton is more affluent and thus more Conservative: I suspect Iain Grey carried most of here on the constituency vote.

    The rest of East Lothian is mostly urban working-class towns towards the outskirts of Edinburgh.

  34. Considering the relatively good result for Labour here in the Scottish Parlimaentary Elections this year, could Labour regain the Westminter Parliamentary seat of East Lothian in 2020?

  35. Depends to a large extent on the boundaries. Iain Gray’s incumbency and relatively high profile probably helped them as well.

  36. SNP would have won the seat on the Westminster boundaries, which are very likely to be unchanged given that they are the right size and contain the whole of East Lothian.

  37. And more importantly still turnout was much lower in 2016.

    I think the SNP won in East Lothian council area in 2016 actually: Musselburgh is okay for them, enough to knock off Iain Gray’s personal vote around the more well-to-do side of the constituency.

  38. Had Berwickshire & East Lothian continued on its 1979 boundaries in 1983, John Home Robertson would certainly have been defeated.

    I am not sure though whether Labour would have regained Berwickshire & East Lothian in 1987 or 1997?

    The boundary changes removed Berwickshire and added many working class towns that were traditionally part of Midlothian but were added to the larger East Lothian council in the 1970’s. Musselburgh had been Midlothian but had been part of the Edinburgh East constituency.

  39. I don’t think so Maxim.

    I would say North and Leith is more affluent that this constituency. North Berwick is an affluent coastal town popular with retirees and commuters from Edinburgh.

  40. @ Maxim – arguably the south of Ayr is “quaint” outside of Forehill and Kincaidston, the north less so. I can’t really speak for Fraserburgh.

  41. Labour won East Lothian last May but the Holyrood constituency excludes Mussleburgh and will not benefit from Iain Gray’s incumbency.

  42. How likely is a Con (or Lab) gain here?

  43. Yes the UK Parliamentary and council area boundaries include Musselburgh, a fairly average town on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which will naturally vote SNP.

  44. I am surprised how strongly some folks fancy the Tories chances in this constituency, not just on this site. Labour have marked this seat out as one where they will be making more effort than normal which is more likely to split the unionist vote.

  45. NTYUK

    “Musselburgh, a fairly average town on the outskirts of Edinburgh”

    You’ve obviously never been there on the Riding of the Mairches!

    Musselburgh was a burgh
    When Edinburgh was nane,
    And Musselburgh will be a burgh
    When Edinburgh’s gane.

  46. Conservatives are 2/1 at the bookies to win this seat. Personally, I don’t rate their chances at all.

  47. Neither do I Scottyboy – the unionist vote should split nicely for the SNP to retain this constituency relatively comfortably.

  48. There is a very solid Conservative vote around North Berwick, Dunbar and generally across the centre/east of the constituency.

    However, I would suggest this is also one of the areas in Scotland that still has a very strong Labour vote, as its population is a lot older than the Scottish average, and this segment of the population is largely situated in traditionally working class areas. Generally, this segment is strongly pro-union, and remains very anti-Tory. If there is any area that still has a hardcore Labour vote, then this is surely it.

    Therefore, it will be difficult for the Conservatives to squeeze much of that Labour vote, especially as they’re coming from third place (at both Westminster and Holyrood).

    Of course, the tsunami effect of a landslide victory for a party can transcend tactical voting by convincing the electorate that the “landsliding” part can win anywhere, as occurred with the SNP in 2015. For what it’s worth, I think this tsunami effect could win the Conservatives Edinburgh South and perhaps another unexpected seat such as Edinburgh North, and it certainly can’t be ruled out here.

    I personally wouldn’t take 2/1 though,

  49. North Berwick has always been Tory, and in their better years the Conservatives have been known to poll ahead in the rural east of the constituency. That doesn’t make them the favourites here: most of the seat’s population is in the more industrial west of the constituency which covers a mix of average/slighty above average towns and the traditional Labour heartland of Tranent.

    I think it will take at least one election cycle before the Conservatives can seriously consider targeting this constituency again. If they can manage second here at the upcoming general election and oust Iain Gray at Holyrood then they would probably have a good chance of taking the seat at Westminster. Until then it’s not going to happen.

    Edinburgh South ain’t gonna happen either, not until the boundaries are improved for the Conservatives in that area.

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