Edinburgh South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 8626 (17.5%)
Labour: 19293 (39.1%)
Lib Dem: 1823 (3.7%)
SNP: 16656 (33.8%)
Green: 2090 (4.2%)
UKIP: 601 (1.2%)
Others: 197 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 2637 (5.4%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

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

Main population centres: Edinburgh.

Profile: Residential suburbs to the south of Edinburgh, set around the Braid hills. It includes traditionally well-to-do neighbourhoods like Morningside as well as student areas like Newington.

Politics: Consistently held by the Conservatives in 1987 Edinburgh South fell to Labour in 1987, later becoming a Labour vs Liberal Democrat marginal. In the 2015 SNP landslide it was the only Labour to withstand the SNP tide, leaving Ian Murray as Scottish Labour`s only MP.

Current MP
IAN MURRAY (Labour) Born 1976, Edinburgh. Educated at Edinburgh University. Former events manager. Edinburgh councillor 2003-2010. First elected as MP for Edinburgh South in 2010. Shadow Scottish Secretary since 2015.
Past Results
Con: 9452 (22%)
Lab: 15215 (35%)
LDem: 14899 (34%)
SNP: 3354 (8%)
Oth: 881 (2%)
MAJ: 316 (1%)
Con: 10291 (24%)
Lab: 14188 (33%)
LDem: 13783 (32%)
SNP: 2635 (6%)
Oth: 1801 (4%)
MAJ: 405 (1%)
Con: 6172 (17%)
Lab: 15671 (42%)
LDem: 10172 (27%)
SNP: 3683 (10%)
Oth: 1468 (4%)
MAJ: 5499 (15%)
Con: 9541 (21%)
Lab: 20993 (47%)
LDem: 7911 (18%)
SNP: 5791 (13%)
Oth: 602 (1%)
MAJ: 11452 (26%)

2015 Candidates
MILES BRIGGS (Conservative) Educated at Perth Grammar School and Robert Gordon University. Political advisor. Contested North East Fife 2010.
IAN MURRAY (Labour) See above.
PRAMOD SUBBARAMAN (Liberal Democrat) Educated at National English School Bangalore and Bangalore Institute of Dental Sciences. Dentist.
PHYL MEYER (Green) Driving instructor and consultant.
COLIN FOX (Scottish Socialist Party (SSP)) Born 1959, Motherwell. Educated at Our Ladys High School and Strathclyde University. Contested Edinburgh South West 2010. MSP for Lothian 2003-2007.
Comments - 489 Responses on “Edinburgh South”
  1. “HH’s post should be viewed through the usual context of his Tory pessimism of course.”

    Tory pessimism is usually justified on the subject of their performance in Scotland.

    “Hemmy is just pissed off at the Tories because of Brexit I should think. Although maybe less so now. He did have a “break” from UKPR iirc.”

    As a teenager it is you who should be pissed off about Brexit, not me. I’ve already benefitted as much as I needed to from free movement by living and working all over Europe. You most likely won’t be able to, at least as easily. Brexit has given me a much cheaper mortgage deal and made my exports (three quarters of my income) much more competitive. I’ve hardly ever been so busy in the summer. But for people your age, not to mention my own kids who are much younger, the long term ramifications could be very limiting.

  2. “Prove me wrong folks, prove me wrong!” – Here’s a thought, try comparing the results of the 2015 and 2016 elections. Notice anything?

    Well, for a start, turnout significantly lower in 2016. The Tory vote from 2016 would only give them ONE additional constituency (Berwick, Roxburgh & Selkirk – not East Renfrewshire, not West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine): there’s no basis to assume that the Conservatives will magically poll ahead across the north east: what is your supporting evidence? A gut feeling?

  3. Adding: the Conservatives didn’t come remotely close to taking any constituency seat in the North East other than Aberdeenshire West in 2016: how can they do so so much better in 2020 weighing in a higher turnout which will benefit the SNP.

    Given that you are making a baseless claim without any supporting evidence it is you who should be proving us wrong.

  4. *if you want to be taken seriously.

  5. “Not a wholly baseless claim – the Tories do appear to be recovering. As I say, I think I would need to see more polls, election results to see if the Tories can supplant Lab in GEs.”
    – Recovering, yes. Recovering to the extent of sweeping gains in a general election, there’s no evidence to support this. What evidence is there to suggest that Banff & Buchan is a more likely Conservative gain over Glasgow North East going Labour? Both are incredibly unlikely, and in case you have forgotten the SNP managed to take Banff & Buchan with a larger majority than Glasgow North East in both 2015 and 2016. What evidence is there to suggest that the Conservatives will gain more than one constituency in the North East in 2020 (which is what you seem to be implying)? The central belt is no more “invincible” than the North East: constituencies in Edinburgh, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and South Ayrshire could all change hands depending on how the boundaries are organised. And it’s also possible that, with a decent general election turnout, the SNP may well hold to West Aberdeenshire… Did you forget the surprise Labour hold in Dumbarton in 2016? What evidence is there to suggest that the Conservatives will be able to repeat their 2016 election performance (it’s possible, I know, but we don’t yet have the polling evidence to make any solid conclusions).
    – Westminster elections =/= Holyrood elections: I know plenty of Conservatives from 2016 who are considering voting SNP in 2020.

    “That isn’t true. The Tories carried 4 Westminster seats in 2016. Another thing you’ve said is that there wasn’t much tactical voting on the constituency vote when it looks pretty clear that there was compared with 2011.”
    – It is true, the SNP vote in 2015 was far too strong in relation to the Tory vote in 2016 to put the Conservatives ahead in East Renfrewshire and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine. They could take East Renfrewshire and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine (or there equivalent constituencies), I’m not denying that. When did I say that there wasn’t much tactical voting on the constituency vote???

    “What claim am I making?”
    – “I was actually replying to someone else who said the SNP could not go on being “all things to all men” ad infinitum and pointing out constituencies where the breakdown of the current SNP voter coalition could cost the SNP in such a scenario.”
    – You are implying that the SNP are invincible in some parts of Scotland, that constituencies such as Banff & Buchan and Angus are potential “battlegrounds” (possible yet unlikely) and that the Conservatives will exceed their 2016 vote share. This is something which you have acknowledged by saying “Not a wholly baseless claim”.

    “I don’t believe the Tories will outpoll the SNP in the North East. I just don’t believe the SNP are invincible in that area.”
    – The SNP aren’t invincible in the central belt either.

    Saving the best ’til last:
    “Are you an SNP supporter or something. A Scottish Labour man perhaps, or a disgruntled “yes” voter?? ”
    “I have been on numerous occasions proved right. So i don’t need to prove much at all.”
    – Fallacy and more fallacy. If we must use latin; ad hominem et modus morons.

    – To the first point, ironically no, I am currently supporting the Conservatives: my political alignment has nothing to do with this.
    – To the second point, oh sorry Maxim – I should have known.

  6. The reason NTYUK is one of the better posters here is exactly because you can’t tell his political views from a short glance through his posts.

  7. That the Tories are consistently putting on 7,8,9% in first preference votes in local byelections suggests they will do a lot better in the next round of local elections next year, unless something calamitous happens for them between now and then. As for 2020, still too far off to say what the environment (and boundaries) will be by then.

  8. Good point Simon, much of us could take heed including myself

  9. @NTYUK ”Did you forget the surprise Labour hold in Dumbarton in 2016?”

    Jackie Baillie only survived because of anti-SNP tactical voting from Helensburgh and Lomond where there are significant Lib Dem and Tory votes. Baillie herself virtually admitted this when she was interviewed on BBC after the result came through.

  10. @ PEPPERMINTTEA: Yes, and I’m not disputing that point – canvassers from all parties reported a strong Labour constituency vote in the Helensburgh and Lomond section of the constituency, with an equally strong SNP vote in the West Dunbartonshire side of the constituency.

    My point being that Dumbarton, on the whole, is not a particularly affluent constituency – demographically it is around the Scottish national average. In many respects the constituency is quite similar to Cowdenbeath, which the SNP gained by over 10% of the vote… It was widely anticipated to go SNP in 2016. It went completely against the grain: the SNP’s vote share in the constituency fell back by around 5 percentage points from the 2014 Scottish independence referendum (well against the Scottish national average) and 10% from the 2015 UK general election.

  11. The result in Dumbarton was certainly exceptional within the context of the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.

    @ Simon: Thank you very much! I’m quite surprised to be honest, I always thought that my political views came across too much from my posts on here.

  12. @ Maxim Parr-Reid – I think that it’s a little early to be calling the result in Edinburgh for 2020 to be honest, a lot can happen in 4 years and we’ve not had any opinion polling for 2020 in Scotland since the 2016 EU referendum.

    My 2015 notionals for my proposed Edinburgh constituencies on the Edinburgh East page of this site are as follows:

    Scottish National – 48%
    Labour – 33%
    Conservative – 9%
    Liberal Democrat – 3%
    Other – 7%

    Scottish National – 39%
    Labour – 29%
    Conservative – 19%
    Liberal Democrat – 6%
    Other – 7%

    Labour – 35%
    Scottish National – 33%
    Conservative – 22%
    Liberal Democrat – 4%
    Other – 6%

    Scottish National – 44%
    Labour – 20%
    Liberal Democrat – 17%
    Conservative – 14%
    Other – 5%

  13. @NTYUK Obviously, people who pay attention will know what way you lean, and I don’t think that any of us can totally separate our own politics from our posting. The people who are the better posters on here tend to be the ones who can see when their own side are not going to do as well as they might, and who are aware of their own prejudices and biases.

  14. @ Simon – Yes I totally agree with you there 🙂 !

  15. I loved your so-called “baseless ramping”, MPR. A surprising amount of it (eg Tories winning Morley & Outwood) turned out to be true.

  16. I think the test for someone like Max is whether he hits on anything of significance in the first election where the Tories don’t fully reach or surpass expectations. If not, we might be entitled to conclude that it’s more of a case of Max’s hopes happening to match up with what happened.

  17. Has Edinburgh South gained Fairmilehead/ Collington/ Firhill?

    Has South lost any territory to East?

  18. I think it covers the City Centre, Meadows/Morningside, Fountainbridge/Craglockhart and Fairmilehead/Colinton wards, losing Southside/Newington and Liberton/Gilmerton to Edinburgh East.

  19. When the range of the new constituencies is between 71,031 and 78,507 for 53 constituencies does this mean that the range for the remaining 51 constituencies is greater when the two preserved Northern and Western isles constituencies are excluded?

    Does the same apply to South East England and the two preserved Southern isles constituencies (Wight East and Wight West)?

    Or is the range 71,031 and 78,507 based on 596 constituencies….excluding the 4 preserved isles constituencies altogether?

  20. I believe that the range is 71,031-78,507 for all non-preserved constituencies.

  21. With tactical voting in mind I guienely believe that if the proposed Edinburgh South constituency stays there’s a strong chance that Murray will be re-elected.

  22. I think he has a better chance on these boundaries than going head to head with Tommy Shepard in some sort of merged Edinburgh South East.

    Two factors go against him – The boundary changes creating the most middle class version of this constituency ever and the unwinding of Neil Hayes negative personal vote. While Morningside is the kind of area with distinct middle class radicalism, I am not certain that Fairmilehead or Colington are. The addition of these two areas could assist the Conservatives.

  23. @ Dalek – under normal circumstances the boundaries in Edinburgh South would be fantastic for the Conservatives: and with a different name they could possibly even gain the constituency on a good night. But look at the result in Edinburgh Southern- it went Labour on the constituency vote and Conservative on the List vote. That name carries some weight as the only Labour constituency in Scotland: and the tactical vote here is huge. This proposed constituency is even more unionist than the existing Edinburgh South constituency in the British Parliament and more unionist than Edinburgh Southern in the Scottish Parliament.

  24. Correct about Colinton/Fairmilehead* an extremely solid Tory vote.

    If Daniel Johnson is a good MSP for Southern though he could be able to help Murray squeeze some additional Tory votes in South Morningside (where his new office is) and Craiglockhart in 2020 however.

    *where I live on the current boundary next to Oxgangs

  25. I’m not suggesting that Colinton/Fairmilehead will magically go red overnight: what I’m saying is that tactical voting exists and it is still a significant political force. I myself live in one of the staunchest Conservative areas in Scotland, and yet there was clear evidence of significant pro-Labour tactical voting in my area in 2015.

  26. I’m not suggesting that Colinton/Fairmilehead will magically go red overnight: what I’m saying is that tactical voting exists and it is still a significant political force. I myself live in one of the staunchest Conservative areas in Scotland, and yet there was clear evidence of significant pro-Labour tactical voting in my area in 201

  27. Sorry for double comment.

  28. Edinburgh South 2015 notional

    SNP 35.5
    LAB 31.0
    CON 22.0
    OTH 11.5

  29. Edinburgh South 2016 constituency notional (more sketchy)

    SNP 32.0
    CON 30.5
    LAB 30.0
    OTH 7.5

    Conservatives ahead on the list.

  30. @NTY UK

    Well I suppose anything can theoretically happen, Colinton was nearly won by the LDs in a 2004 by election for example.

    Colinton/Fairmilehead will only become interesting next year if Loads of Tory voters give Labour a 2nd preference and the SNP falls well short of 25% overall despite strong support now in working class Oxgangs and Labour somehow overriding them on middle class preferences to edge the SNP out which strikes me as grossly implausible!

  31. I suspect that Tory voters in Colinton/Fairmilehead will give their second preference to the Tory candidate they did not vote for in the first preference !

  32. I suspect that Ian Murray is already preparing bar charts to show the inhabitants of Colinton/Fairmilehead that he’s the only one who can defeat the evil secessionists in 2020. He’s also been saying the sort of anti-Corbyn things that will allow the locals there to decide he’s a nice lad, and can therefore receive their votes. Meanwhile the Tories will continue to rack up the votes in the ward in the Council elections.

  33. Edinburgh South West and Central is a really daft name when the neighbouring constituency based in the south east of Edinburgh is called “Edinburgh East”.

  34. Murray’s ability to persuade Tories to vote for him will depend largely on the outcome of the local elections in May.

    If the Conservatives out poll Labour heavily on the new boundaries next May, then it will be harder for Murray to appeal to Conservatives.

  35. While Liberton was perhaps once Labour’s most reliable part of Edinburgh South it might have voted SNP in 2015 so it may be no great loss but I suspect that Labour may have won on Newington/ Southside due to tactical voting and the loss of this ward is detrimental to Murray chances of holding on.

  36. Newington/Southside was good Labour territory in 2015 and 2016. Their ability to win a constituency based around the south of Edinburgh largely rests on whether that constituency includes both Newington/Southside and Meadows/Morningside!

  37. I honestly don’t know the area well though one of my relatives who comes from Edinburgh South told me that the area used to be thoroughly affluent and Tory til the development of council housing towards the south of the constituency in the 1980s, which led to some of the middle classes moving away from the area.

    Ironically voting in Edinburgh South has inverted in on itself as the more deprived parts of the constituency which gave Labour their victories here in 2005 and 2010 are now staunchly SNP, whilst the more affluent Liberal Democrat inclined parts of the constituency are now more supportive of Labour…

  38. The Edinburgh Southern constituency effectively covers the more affluent parts of the seat, the council estate of Gracemount is located to the southeast of the constituency.

  39. Almost all areas located in the proposed Edinburgh South West and Central are affluent though!

  40. I live in East Lothian but am very familiar for Edinburgh having worked in it and driven through it for a few decades now. My son goes to school just to the north of the proposed constituency. Obviously the New Town area surrounding Great King Street is extremely prosperous, Northumberland Street was mentioned recently as Scotland’s most expensive street I think.
    The seat as far as I can see only contains one pocket of serious council housing (around Slateford) although the private rented sector will be large in other areas (Marchmont).
    Overwhelmingly as already pointed out this is a very affluent seat.

  41. Electoral Calculus’s Notional Result for Edinburgh SW & C (the successor to Edinburgh South).

    NAT 23,242 37.1%
    CON 15,728 25.1%
    LAB 15,479 24.7%
    Green 3,816 6.1%
    LIB 2,929 4.7%
    UKIP 1,381 2.2%
    OTH 93 0.1%

    NAT Majority 7,514 12.0%

  42. Electoral calculus is total crap, especially in Scotland’s case – it just applies the last local election (held back in 2012) to 2015. The fact that they have 0.0% Liberal democrats in most areas where the lib Dems didn’t stand councillors proves that.

  43. Based on the 2016 Scottish Parliament election the unionist targets are:

    1. Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
    2. Clydesdale and Eskdale
    3. Dumfries and Galloway
    4. Edinburgh South West and Central
    5. Ayr and Carrick
    6. Cunninghame East
    7. Gordon and Deeside
    8. Aberdeen South
    9. Kincardine and Angus East

    Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk and Clydesdale & Eskdale notionally went Conservative in 2016 while Dumfries & Galloway, Edinburgh South West & Central and Ayr & Carrick were within a 1% swing of being won by the Conservatives on the constituency vote (Edinburgh South West & Central was won by the Conservatives on the list vote). Cunninghame East would be their next closest target, requiring a swing of less than 4% to win on the constituency vote.

    1. Edinburgh South West and Central
    2. East Lothian
    3. Cunninghame East

    Notionally Labour won in none of the proposed constituencies in 2016, Edinburgh South West & Central would be their closest result on the constituency side of the vote, requiring a 1% swing to gain.

    1. Orkney and Shetland
    2. Edinburgh West
    3. North East Fife

    The Liberal Democrats polled miles ahead in Orkney and Shetland, increasing their number of votes on 2015. They were well ahead in the Edinburgh Western and North East Fife constituencies in the Scottish Parliament. I’m not certain how the vote went in the proposed Edinburgh West constituency though with tactical voting in mind it must be said that new Edinburgh West constituency is better territory for the Liberal Democrats than the Scottish Parliament seat of Edinburgh Western. The proposed North East Fife constituency went SNP in 2016, covering some more industrial/working class towns to the south-west.

  44. The current North East Fife is well below even to electoral quota for 59 MP’s. It is gaining some 20000 electors and is returning to the more or less the pre-1983 Fife East boundaries.

    NTY UK is correct to say that the Lib Dems may not have one on the new Westminster boundaries in 2016.

    The annexed territory is formerly solid Labour/ now SNP working class coastal communities.

  45. Yes the new boundaries for the North East Fife constituency is definitely an improvement for the SNP, much more working class in nature by comparison to the Scottish Parliamentary seat which is almost exclusively middle class in nature.

  46. @Max Both seats are still very prosperous and middle-class, although their mix has diverged to an extent. South has more areas like Marchmont, Bruntsfield and Morningside which are seen as relatively desirable, but are largely tenement-style flats. These tend to have a younger, more cosmopolitan population with more students, academics and public sector workers, although they’d generally be relatively affluent. I’d say these would be the sort of areas that have swung away from the Tories substantially over the past twenty or thirty years, as has happened in similar seats in England. Both seats have large swathes of very affluent, expensive housing, which will be good for the Tories/Lib Dems – generally full of private sector/professional types who send their kids to private school and are largely hostile to the SNP. Lastly, around much of the periphery of the city there are more working class areas, such as Gracemount, Gilmerton, Sighthill, Drum Brae and so on, which are going to be SNP dominated with Labour second.

    The area that falls into the Colinton/Fairmilehead ward is the obvious exception, although it isn’t as affluent as you might expect from the Tory domination. I would suggest Fairmilehead has an aging population – it used to be where people who couldn’t quite afford the really well-off areas closer to the centre ended up, but many of these people now either buy in the nicer tenement areas or properly out of the city if they want space. I’d imagine this may change soon, with the area becoming younger and less Conservative. I think the Tories will always do well in the ward, as Colinton will remain good for them, and the area has a lot of army housing from the barracks, many of whom are not Scottish, and who probably disproportionately vote Tory.

  47. Interesting notional result for the new Edinburgh South West & Central (the true successor to Edinburgh South) –

    SNP 20228
    Con 15843
    Lab 15279
    Green 3729
    LD 2778

    SNP Maj 4385

    I think that the SNP candidate will be Joanna Cherry MP as the Edinburgh Pentlands & Livingston constituency is the successor to Livingston. While the SNP vote may have peaked in 2015….here it will have been diluted by the Neil Hay factor….and the SNP could still poll 20000 in 2020.

    I also think that Murray will stand but his vote may have peaked and there may be considerable tactical unwinding back to the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.

    What is interesting is that the Conservatives are ahead on the notional result and they have been helped by solidly Conservative parts of South West being added.

    My view is that if Ruth Davidson stood here she would give Joanna Cherry a serious run for her money. I see here as much better placed that Ian Murray to win this majority unionist seat (unionist majority in excess of 10000). However, if the unionist vote remains equally divided by Murray still polling a strong vote the SNP could still win.

  48. @ Dalek –

    Edinburgh South West & Central is a really difficult call: my notionals suggest that the Conservatives would have come very close here at the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. Disregarding a clear tactical vote for Labour in Edinburgh Southern they would have most likely won here.

    The central challenge for the party is Ian Murray’s perceived incumbency here which may well allow for Labour to steal a chunk of tactical votes off of the Conservatives. Overcoming that, this is a viable target for the party in 2020.

  49. Just to point out (and I could be wrong here) those notional figures seem well off the mark for Edinburgh SW&C (as they seem to imply that the City Centre ward went Conservative in 2015 – it most certainly went SNP)

    In my own area of Ayr & Carrick the figures are pretty skewed as well (the SNP figure should be down by 5%, Conservatives up 3%, Labour up 3%)…

  50. With a 10% poll lead over Labour and an apparent ratio of 5 Tories to every 3 Labour voters in Scotland it looks possible that Labour could come third on the councillors count next May.

    Is Labour being hammered from both ends…losing the Red Nat vote in 2011 and 2015 and then the Red Unionist vote to the Tories in 2016. Seems Scottish Labour is being eroded at both ends, losing a two front war against both the SNP and the Tories on who can be the most effective nationalist or unionist party.

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