Edinburgh North & Leith

2015 Result:
Conservative: 9378 (16.2%)
Labour: 18145 (31.3%)
Lib Dem: 2634 (4.5%)
SNP: 23742 (40.9%)
Green: 3140 (5.4%)
UKIP: 847 (1.5%)
Others: 122 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 5597 (9.6%)

Category: Marginal SNP seat

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

Main population centres: Edinburgh, Leith.

Profile: The boundary between Edinburgh North and Leith and Edinburgh East runs along Princes Street, meaning the city centre itself is split between seats - the Old Town, Holyrood and St Andrews House are in Edinburgh East, the New Town and the retail centre of Edinburgh lie within this seat. Around the city centre this is a dense, urban residential seat with a high proportion of tenements and apartments, popular with professionals and students. To the north is Leith, the historic port that served Edinburgh and became part of the city in 1920. Industrial decline and deriliction had taken the toll on Leith and by the 1980s it had a reputation for violence, prostitution and drugs, most famously characterised by Irvine Welsh`s Trainspotting, but since then the area has undergone substantial redevelopment.

Politics: The seats covering Leith consistently returned Labour MPs between 1945 and 2015, but fell in the SNP landslide. The equivalent Scottish Parliament seat, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, was narrowly retained by Labour in the 2011 SNP victory.

Current MP
DEIDRE BROCK (SNP) Born Western Australia. Educated at John Curtin University. Edinburgh councillor since 2007. First elected as MP for Edinburgh North & Leith in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 7079 (15%)
Lab: 17740 (37%)
LDem: 16016 (34%)
SNP: 4568 (10%)
Oth: 1953 (4%)
MAJ: 1724 (4%)
Con: 7969 (19%)
Lab: 14597 (34%)
LDem: 12444 (29%)
SNP: 4344 (10%)
Oth: 3286 (8%)
MAJ: 2153 (5%)
Con: 4626 (14%)
Lab: 15271 (46%)
LDem: 6454 (19%)
SNP: 5290 (16%)
Oth: 1593 (5%)
MAJ: 8817 (27%)
Con: 7312 (18%)
Lab: 19209 (47%)
LDem: 5335 (13%)
SNP: 8231 (20%)
Oth: 858 (2%)
MAJ: 10978 (27%)

2015 Candidates
IAIN MCGILL (Conservative) Educated at Drummond Community High School. Director of an employment agency. Contested Midlothian 2005, Edinburgh North and Leith 2010.
MARK LAZAROWICZ (Labour) Born 1953, Dagenham. Educated at St Andrews University. Advocate. Edinburgh councillor 1980-1996, 1999-2001. Leader of Edinburgh council 1986-1993.Contested Edinburgh Pentlands 1987, 1992. MP for Edinburgh North and Leith 2001 to 2015.
MARTIN VEART (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Bracondale School and University of Wales. Geophysical engineer.
ALAN MELVILLE (UKIP) Born Edinburgh. Educated at Napier University.
SARAH BEATTIE-SMITH (Green) Educated at Peebles High School and Edinburgh College of Art. Policy officer.
DEIDRE BROCK (SNP) Born Western Australia. Educated at John Curtin University. Edinburgh councillor since 2007.
Comments - 89 Responses on “Edinburgh North & Leith”
  1. @ Simon – I wouldn’t put your faith into a single poll, they’ve proven to be quite inaccurate on certain occasions.

    I’d currently put SNP at roughly 52% of the constituency vote – but TNS’ polling results are quite interesting…

    As for the Edinburgh Southern constituency – as I have previously mentioned – it is a more middle class area which voted more againist independence/more in favour of labour over the SNP in the General Election compared to the Liberton/Gracemount area etc.

    Again, personal votes/incumbency is questionable in my view and only important on certain occassions (such as unionist tactical voting, as seen in the Edinburgh West constituency). I think the SNP are in with a chance of holding Edinburgh Southern but, again, I have Labour as the favourites here currently.

  2. The main areas missing from the Holyrood seat are a chunk of the Liberton/Gilmerton ward, which is probably now an SNP area, although Labour won it in 2012, and took a seat from the SNP in a by-election in 2013, and a chunk of the Colinton/Fairmilehead ward, which is the Tories best ward in the city, and I’d guess the most unionist too. I don’t think the Holyrood seat is worse for the SNP than the Westminster one is.

  3. @ Simon – I completely disagree – it’s like suggesting that Labour’s vote came from Barrhead in East Renfrewshire: the traditionally Labour areas of the constituency have flipped over to the SNP, and similarly, affluent areas which have historically been Liberal Democrat/Conservative have switched to/remained Labour voting.

    The Edinburgh Southern constituency excludes the southern section of the Liberton/Gilmerton electoral ward (it omits Gilmerton, Gracemount etc.) It also incorporates the Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart electoral ward.

    These are the two central differences in terms of boundaries between Edinburgh South and Edinburgh Southern.

    The Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart ward is very affluent, with the vast majority of it’s datazones being among the 15% most affluent in Scotland. By contrast: Gracemount has a number of datazones within the most deprived vigintiles and is by-enlarge a 50-50 mix of affluent and deprived areas. With this in mind, and the fact that the Labour party in it’s current form receives most of it’s concentrated support from the affluent middle classes, it seems natural to assume that Edinburgh Southern would be a more favourable constituency for the Labour party in the current political climate.

    Where is the evidence for this?

    Simple. Look at Labour’s target list in Scotland:
    1. Renfrewshire East (formerly the safest Conservative seat in Scotland, large middle class population around the Eastwood constituency boundaries)
    2. Edinburgh North and Leith (large middle class around the south/central of the constituency)
    3. Dumfries and Galloway (found along the Scottish borders: an incumbency unionist tactical factor likely enabled Labour to do comparably well here)
    4. East Lothian (the rural east of the constituency/North Berwick etc. is very affluent)

  4. @ Simon – the seat has a lower proportion of poorer datazones than that of the Edinburgh South constituency, yes the Edinburgh South constituency contains a small subsection of the Colinton/Fairmiliehead ward yet with the removal of what we can assume to be SNP-voting Gracemount/Gilmerton and the addition of the Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart ward the seat has a higher proportion of middle class voters: the majority of the working class section of the constituency is not contained within the Edinburgh Southern constituency.

    Whilst Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart does have more Green/SNP councillors, the area has historically had a very high Liberal Democrat/Tory vote, much of which will be picked up by Labour in my opinion.

  5. I don’t think Labour really has very good areas anywhere right now. In general, they got 25-30% in a swathe of different seats. The more middle class seats are better for them because they are relatively bad for the SNP rather than being good for Labour.

    Going through the differences in the two seats, I think that the southern part that’s in the Westminster seat but not the Holyrood one is pretty neutral. The (substantial) part of Colinton/Fairmilehead, which is made up of Comiston, Buckstone and Fairmilehead itself, will be very pro-Tory and anti-SNP. The similarly sized part of Liberton/Gilmerton that is not in the Holyrood seat will be SNP first and Labour second.

    The Fountainbridge and Craiglockhart ward is more mixed. Craiglockhart has more in common with Clinton/Fairmilehead, while Fountainbridge is much more mixed and will be where the SNP and Greens get most of their strength from. There’s also an area around Prestonfield and towards Craigmillar, which is in the Holyrood seat, but not the Westminster one, which will likely help the SNP.

  6. If Labour is to make a come-back in Scotland this seat is on their “must win” list. The SNP are still comparatively weak in the Scottish capital.

    Simon is quite right to polint out that middle-class seats have become bettr prospects for Labour becasue the SNP are weaker in them rather than because Labour are stronger.

    I doubt if Labour are going to regain their tribal vote in places like Central Glasow and Dundee in a hurry.

  7. I can’t see the Holyrood seat being anything other than a straightforward SNP gain, given that Malcolm Chisholm is retiring, Labour is defending a three figure majority, and there has been a further significant swing from Labour to the SNP since 2011.

  8. Simon is correct, the Edinburgh Leith seat in the Scottish Parliament has more unfavourable boundaries for the party in it’s current state (wherein they are reliant on a more middle class/unionist vote) than the UK parliamentary seat, so it is unlikely that the party will hold the seat.

    But as much as he would like otherwise, the seat voted against independence at 60% No. It had the most marginal SNP victory of all former “Labour Heartland” seats in Scotland, with a 9.6% SNP lead over Labour.

    Lothian’s working class/ex-Labour vote has remained the most “unionist” of all parts of the former Labour Heartlands, with the Heartland seats in the area having a combined No vote of around 57% (effectively excluding west/south/central Edinburgh).

    Following this, East Lothian is the most likely former Heartland seat to return to Labour. It had a 61.7% No vote with an SNP lead over Labour of 11.5% in the UK Parliament seat. The Scottish Parliament seat is even more ‘middle class’ than the seat in the UK Parliament, making it the most likely Labour Heartland constituency seat in the Scottish Parliament to return to the party.

    In the case of both seats it is necessary that the party attract a sizeable portion of the local Conservative vote without jeopardising their support among the Unionist working class.

    At the moment I see no signs of recovery for the party in either seat for 2016.

  9. It’s also necessary that they win votes back from the SNP. With fragments of the vote going to the Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP, it’s very difficult to beat someone who can score 40+%.

    Also, this

    “In the case of both seats it is necessary that the party attract a sizeable portion of the local Conservative vote without jeopardising their support among the Unionist working class.”

    is very hard to do. There’s not much coming from the Labour leadership election that makes me think they can effectively deal with the problem of losing support to the left and right at the same time.

  10. @ Simon – the problem is under the current format of the party I do not believe that realistically they can attract many SNP voters – as can be demonstrated by 2015.

  11. they’re kind of struggling to attract any voters from anywhere right now.

  12. I believe the area of the city which includes the Episcopalian and Catholic Cathedrals and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery was in Edinburgh North 1918-1983 and Edinburgh Central 1983-2005. At Holyrood I think it has always been in Edinburgh Central.

  13. ‘the Old Town, Holyrood and St Andrews House are in Edinburgh East, the New Town and the retail centre of Edinburgh lie within this seat’

    Were not all these areas in one constituency before 2005?

  14. I wonder if a Corbyn-led Labour Party could win this seat (or its successor) in 2020?

  15. A rivival in the minor party (UKIP, Green, LibDem) vote would make it harder for Labour to make a comeback here.

    Mu guess is that a Corbyn led Labour Party would be likely to lose votes here to the LibDems in particular, although I would not wish to exaggerate the size of this likely movement.

  16. The Lib Dems are pretty much dead in these parts now. Something substantial would have to change before they became relevant again. I suspect that most of the remaining Labour voters will stick with them come what may, although obviously a Corbynite party would find it harder to gather unionist tactical votes. I don’t think they will make progress against the SNP either unless support for independence diminishes significantly.

  17. Double council by-election in the Leith Walk ward next week, to replace the new MP and a Green councillor. In 2012, the SNP and Labour were effectively neck and neck with the Greens close behind. You’d imagine the SNP will probably retain their seat on the first count, with Labour and the Greens fighting it out for the other seat. That said, I’d expect the Tories to do less badly than normal, as their candidate has a high profile as a campaigner against the statutory notices scandal. None of the other candidates should trouble the scorers significantly.

  18. I suspect all will go to the SNP.

  19. The SNP are only standing one candidate, which means the second seat will go elsewhere.

    My money’s on the Green candidate, largely due to transfers after the SNP have sown up their seat.

  20. I’m slightly surprised the SNP only put up one candidate given that they’re pretty much guaranteed to hold their seat.

  21. Results: SNP candidate elected on the first count. Labour candidate elected on the 10th count. 8% swing from Labour to the SNP since 2012. Other parties pretty much hold their ground – the Greens were up by 2% and narrowly missed out on the other seat.

    I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad result for the SNP. It’s a lot smaller than the swings they’ve been achieving in by-elections in the West. Then again, it’s a pretty mixed ward, and would have voted no by a fair margin last year. Given that pro-Yes parties got around 60% of the vote, there probably isn’t much room for further growth. Looks very likely that the result next time for the full ward will be 2 SNP, 1 Lab and 1 Green, which would result in the SNP winning one of the Labour seats and the Greens recovering their by-election loss from Labour.

  22. Does anyone know why they put up one candidate? Did they hope to give the other seat to the Greens?

  23. Possibly a combination of that and being somewhat overcautious. Not that it would have made any difference on the actual result.

  24. Looking at the results i don’t think a second SNP candidate would have made any difference. If the SNP vote was split between two candidates theres no way they would both be ahead of Labour and the Greens and so one SNP candidate would have been eliminated pushing the other SNP candidate across the electoral quota and the the reallocations would then have been the same.

    It would be fascinating to know how the Tory and Lib Dem voters other preferences split between Labour and the SNP


  26. Perennial Tory candidate Iain McGill has been reselected here.

  27. Lorna Slater has been selected for the Greens. They have also stated this is the only seat in Edinburgh they will contest.


  28. Not been much talk about this seat on here. What do people think? Cons seem to be trying hard if Twitter is anything to go by, but it ought to be a prime Lab target too. Three-way marginal?

  29. Pretty sure on that recent poll this would be the only Labour gain in Scotland. However, I tend to think the split in the unionist vote will leave the SNP in power here. Besides, both the Tories and Labour have easier targets which they will be pouring their resources into.

  30. Unlikely. Biggest Remain vote in Scotland so far as I can recall. The SNP have made some strong advances here since 2015 (as per the 2016 Scottish Parliament election and 2017 local elections). It should be a comfortable SNP hold, probably with an increased majority as the Conservatives top the poll towards the south-west of the constituency around Inverleith whilst Labour fall back but remain in second place around Leith itself.

    By all accounts East Lothian is a more likely Labour gain as they came first in that constituency at the 2017 local election and managed a close second to the SNP in 2016 (they did win the Scottish Parliamentary constituency of East Lothian in 2016 however the boundaries are better for them versus the Westminster seat with the exclusion of Musselburgh).

    The Conservatives will be optimistic for second here.

  31. In saying that a strong Green vote could split the nationalist vote here and potentially let the Conservatives or Labour gain the seat: unlikely but certainly a possibility which would parallel the result in the Edinburgh Central constituency at last year’s Holyrood election.

  32. At 39% to Con 29% and Lab 25% the SNP would still have the majority of the Scottish constituencies but there would be a huge number of SNP marginals and very few safe SNP seats. Only a few constituencies like Cumbernauld, Falkirk and Dundee West would retain 20% plus SNP majorities.

  33. With the SNP at 39% to Con 29% and Lab 25% the SNP would still have the majority of the Scottish constituencies but there would be a huge number of SNP marginals and very few safe SNP seats. Only a few constituencies like Cumbernauld, Falkirk and Dundee West would retain 20% plus SNP majorities.

  34. The fightback has to start somewhere – the SNP only had 6 seats not that long ago.

  35. Labour stand their best chance of a gain in East Lothian. In my opinion this is shaping up to be a very marginal contest indeed. If Labour do manage to sustain and increase their vote in the polls in Scotland then there is a chance that they might gain a few former Working Class strongholds as well: however I am sceptical.

    The main seats which spring to mind based on the results of the 2016 Scottish Parliament election and 2017 locals are Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath and Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill, although Rutherglen & Hamilton West, Lanark & Hamilton East and Dunfermline & West Fife would also be viable targets if Labour manage to make up some ground in Scotland.

  36. Lots of nerdy little details in the Electoral Reform Society’s report on the election (spoilers: they want to introduce PR).

    For example, Edinburgh North was the seat where most votes were cast for losing candidates – around 37,500 in total.

  37. I believe Brexit will have a lot to do with the by-elections, Scotland voted remain in general, the Tories and the Labour party are constantly infighting between themselves on this, other than Lib Dem and Green gains I can see SNP landslide.

  38. Leith walk by election 11 April (caused by Lab resignation)

    SNP gain from Lab – elected stage 11

    SNP: 35.7% (+1.4)
    GRN: 25.5% (+5.9)
    LAB: 15.5% (-7.0)
    CON: 10.7% (-3.7)
    LDEM: 8.6% (+4.8)

    Turnout 30.3% spolit:67

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