Edinburgh East

2015 Result:
Conservative: 4670 (9.9%)
Labour: 14082 (29.9%)
Lib Dem: 1325 (2.8%)
SNP: 23188 (49.2%)
Green: 2809 (6%)
UKIP: 898 (1.9%)
TUSC: 117 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 9106 (19.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Lothian. Part of the Edinburgh council area.

Main population centres: Edinburgh.

Profile: This seat includes the Old Town of Edinburgh, covering Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Holyrood palace and now the Scottish Parliament (though the boundary runs along Princes Street, so the retail heart of Edinburgh lies in Edinburgh North). The redevelopment of run down flats and the arrival of the Scottish Parliament means this is now a far more modern, upmarket and desirable area. Most of the electorate however live on the other side of Arthur`s Seat and Holyrood Park in areas like Meadowbank, Duddingston, Mountcastle, Portobello, Prestonfield, Restalrig, Southside and Tollcross. There are mixed areas here, some dsirable housing, a lot of student accomodation from Napier University, Victorian tenements and a lot of council accommodation from the last century, including notoriously deprived and troubled areas like Craigmillar and Niddrie, both largely demolished and redeveloped since the 1980s.

Politics: This was a safe Labour seat that fell to the SNP in 2015. The Edinburgh East and Musselburgh seat in the Scottish Parliament, fought as the name suggests on significantly different boundaries, fell to the SNP in 2007.

Current MP
TOMMY SHEPPARD (SNP) Born Ireland. Educated at Aberdeen University. Former Hackney councillor for the Labour party. First elected as MP for Edinburgh East in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 4358 (11%)
Lab: 17314 (43%)
LDem: 7751 (19%)
SNP: 8133 (20%)
Oth: 2309 (6%)
MAJ: 9181 (23%)
Con: 4093 (10%)
Lab: 15899 (40%)
LDem: 9697 (24%)
SNP: 6760 (17%)
Oth: 3260 (8%)
MAJ: 6202 (16%)
Con: 3906 (11%)
Lab: 18124 (53%)
LDem: 4981 (14%)
SNP: 5956 (17%)
Oth: 1487 (4%)
MAJ: 12168 (35%)
Con: 6483 (15%)
Lab: 22564 (54%)
LDem: 4511 (11%)
SNP: 8034 (19%)
Oth: 526 (1%)
MAJ: 14530 (34%)

2015 Candidates
JAMES MCMORDIE (Conservative)
SHEILA GILMORE (Labour) Born 1949, Aberdeen. Edinburgh councillor 1991-2007. Contested Edinburgh Pentlands 2007 Scottish election. MP for Edinburgh East 2010 to 2015.
KAREN UTTING (Liberal Democrat) Contested Edinburgh Central 1997, Falkirk East 2001.
PETER MCCOLL (Green) Born 1980, Belfast. Educated at Edinburgh university.
TOMMY SHEPPARD (SNP) Born Ireland. Educated at Aberdeen University. Former Hackney councillor for the Labour party.
Comments - 133 Responses on “Edinburgh East”
  1. Initial thoughts are that it shows there is a gap in the market for a moderate (in left-right terms) unionist party. With the mess that Labour is in, coupled with Corbyn as leader, and the transformation of the Lib Dems into a tactical vote accumulation device, there’s really only the Scottish Tories who are playing in that space. People like my parents, who were quite happy to vote for Blair, have voted Lib Dem sporadically, found Miliband a bit lefty and are gently horrified by Corbyn, don’t really have anyone else to vote for.

    There does also seem to be more tactical voting amongst unionists. Lib Dems and some Labour people appear able to benefit from this. I’m not sure the extent to which Tories can, or whether most of their voters just currently think they’re the best available option. In any event, it suggests that, without the benefit of genuinely split opposition, the SNP need to be clear of 40% to be safe. Ideally they’d want to be a couple of points higher.

    I have no idea where this leaves Scottish Labour. It seems to me they can tack towards the same ground the Tories are occupying, or they can try their luck as a more left-wing, “home rule” party. Or, more likely, they’ll try to do both at the same time, and just appear somewhat inauthentic to everyone, and continue their decline.

  2. Johann Lamont, Ken Macintosh and John Scott are running for Scottish Parliament presiding officer. Murdo Fraser and Elaine Smith are ‘considering’ running.

  3. It would be a shame to see Murdo Fraser as Presiding Officer, as he has a lot to contribute to this parliament. However, given he has no chance of obtaining the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives in the near future, an ambitious streak in him may be leading him to seek a promotion of sorts. I thought he was very capable and unbiased as head of one of the parliamentary committees last term (finance?).

    As for the Labour benches (or wheely chairs), most of them seem to understand their role in this parliament will be one of relative irrelevance (with the exception of the reanimated Baillie, Gray and Johnson), and therefore the PO chair is the best gig going. Macintosh and Lamont would both be strong contenders. I can envisage Macintosh in the chair more than I can Lamont.

  4. I’ve no idea who’ll get it, but there may be a feeling that it is Labour’s ‘turn’ – there has been a previous Tory PO but not yet a Labour one. Given her status as a former party leader Lamont must stand a decent chance, though I don’t know how she’s viewed by SNP MSPs, who obviously have the most votes.

  5. I would suggest she isn’t looked upon kindly by the SNP group. Party activists (or at least the most vocal ones) often point to her labeling of nationalism as a “virus” as an example of her “hashtag-SNP-bad” credentials, and the ties between the activists and the SNP group at Holyrood aren’t always loose.

    Ken Macintosh is probably viewed more positively by the SNP. His constituency seems to reflect his views, in the sense that he represents both the anti-independence and anti-Tory majority in the constituency. The latter may make him a less unpalatable option to the SNP benches.

    Given the SNP’s imposition of the Presiding Officer last term (and it’s hard to see it as anything other than an imposition), it would perhaps make sense for the rest of the parties to reach an agreement over a common candidate, and this includes the Greens, who will be eager to encourage the continued rotation of the role.

    The problem comes in the fact that Labour believe they are entitled to the PO role, and the Conservative group will perhaps be unwilling to stand in the way of John Scott’s apparent long-held ambition to accede to the role.

    However, even if the SNP abstain, the Greens and Lib Dems may ensure that a Labour PO is elected on the principle of rotation.

  6. I don’t see any real alternative to Kezia Dugdale atm, perhaps Neil Findlay?

  7. Changing leader every five minutes has done Scottish Labour no favours. Best to stick with Dugdale and see if they can start to make what will inevitably be a slow recovery.

  8. It’s a bit pointless removing Dugdale simply because they got gubbed again. Then again, I haven’t seen anything that shows she might be able to solve any of the problems facing Labour.

    In terms of the Presiding Officer, I’d imagine Labour will get the gig. Macintosh seems more likely than Lamont. That said, if there are at least three candidates, then the SNP will basically get to decide who gets the job. They probably won’t want a Tory, I’d imagine, and Lamont is not, as Piemonteis suggests, that popular in SNP circles. So that leaves Macintosh.

  9. Macintosh wants it, I hope he doesn’t get it.

  10. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-36259128

    So far Ken Macintosh, Johann Lamont, Elaine Smith and John Scott have put in for it.

    Ken looks to be the front-runner, I would probably rule out Johann Lamont and possibly John Scott – especially if Murdo Fraser runs as well.

  11. I wonder if SNP MSPs would vote for Smith.

  12. Smith is a good candidate, I think she would make a far stronger PO versus Johann or Ken who are only running to boost their own ego’s. John Scott is also a good candidate, although admittedly he’s unlikely to get the job.

  13. Smith’s views on gay marriage might be an issue for some, I suppose. Is it just a single ballot, or does the winner need to get a majority? If it’s a single ballot Scott might have a chance, but I’d be surprised if he’d get 65 votes.

    I wonder if the SNP will have a favoured candidate or if they’ll leave it to their MSPs to vote as they see fit.

  14. It is an exhaustive ballot paper (ie. preferential).

    The role is apolitical so there’s a chance that Scott could be elected, although I strongly suspect the SNP will want to exert their own agenda onto their members, and by that I mean they should probably support a Labour candidate to keep good press.

  15. A cynic might suggest that there is no shortage of Labour candidates for the role of Presiding Officer because that is the only way they can wash their hands of the party and cancel their party membership, without generating negative news headlines.

    I am not a cynic, however.

  16. Johann and Ken are both in it for themselves: they want good press, especially Ken whose desperate shameless grabs for publicity are disgraceful.

    He wants Eastwood back.

  17. I am fairly cynical about it. Whoever the SNP like most amongst the Labour candidates will likely win.

  18. Johann Lamont for the lolz 😛

  19. Looks very much like Ken is the winner.

  20. Doesn’t really matter. Labour is either up the creek or they work out how to be the progressive unionist party.

  21. For the foreseeable future, I assume. The problem isn’t particularly the leadership.

  22. I have revised my proposed UK Parliamentary boundaries for the City of Edinburgh and West Lothian for the 2018 UK boundary review (see below:)


    I am very pleased with the results: the only ward split required would be in Inverleith (split between Edinburgh North and Edinburgh West).

    From an outsiders perspective I believe that these boundaries flow well: Edinburgh East brings together the more identifiably socialist/working class parts of Edinburgh; Edinburgh North predominantly centres around the more urban/metropolitan parts of the city; Edinburgh South covers the city’s more affluent southern suburbs and Edinburgh West covers a more broad mix of suburbs and social housing, somewhat reminiscent of the existing Edinburgh South West constituency in terms of demography.

  23. Don’t see the Lib Dems being pleased with your new Edinburgh West.

  24. I think that it’s very difficult to justify retaining an Edinburgh West constituency based around Almond, Drum Brae / Gyle and Corstorphine / Murrayfield under a 600 seat arrangement: doing so makes the boundaries in the rest of Edinburgh unnecessarily messy and less representative in my opinion.

  25. I was just looking at Kez Dugdales personal result in Edinburgh Eastern in May. She had huge amount national TV exposure and was fighting a seat where Kenny MacAskill was retiring yet the SNP doubled their majority. She hardly pulled off a David McLetchie moment (gaining Edinburgh Pentlands in 2003) or or the even more dramatic Ruth Davidson moment (gaining Edinburgh Central in 2016).

    In fact, all 5 major party leaders in Scotland other than Dugdale performed well in the respective constituencies they were contesting. Ruth Davidson gaining Edinburgh Central from a distant 4th position, Nicola Sturgeon increased her majority to over 9000 in a former Labour stronghold, Willie Rennie gained NE Fife and Patrick Harvie came from nowhere to turn Glasgow Kelvin into an SNP/ Green marginal.

    I wonder what happened in Dugdales case?

  26. I think that the 2014 independence referendum had a role to play here: Edinburgh Central is a very affluent constituency which had quite a substantial No result back in 2014 (my notionals suggest that the No side took around 63% of the vote in Central), Edinburgh Eastern is the most deprived constituency in Edinburgh and had the strongest Yes vote back in 2014 (my notionals suggest a 53% No vote here). On top of that the Greens stood in Central, which effectively split the ‘Yes’ opposition, allowing for Ruth Davidson to win here…

    The result in Edinburgh Eastern was not special for the unionists, but keep in mind Kezia Dugdale is the least popular party leader in Scotland…

  27. Yes, as I mentioned in the post above Eastern had the highest Yes vote in Edinburgh.

    In terms of UK Parliamentary constituencies the result in Edinburgh was:

  28. Well those are the official totals from the Edinburgh council website.

  29. According to electoral Calculus, Murray would be better following the East part of his constituency into the new Edinburgh East.

    NAT 24,776 43.5%
    LAB 22,214 39.0%
    CON 5,166 9.1%
    Green 2,176 3.8%
    LIB 1,663 2.9%
    UKIP 715 1.3%
    OTH 215 0.4%

    NAT Majority 2,562 4.5%

  30. Trusty electoral calculus again… Really?

  31. Will the Greens out poll the LD’s again and will the LD’s hold onto their deposit this time round?

  32. Sheila Gilmore reselected to fight this seat.

  33. Kezia Dugdale is standing down as an MSP to be replaced by Sarah Boyack.

    Dugdale recently ‘won’ the defamation case from Wings over Scotland aka Stuart Campbell.

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