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. The Liberal Democrats really haven’t become the party of Remain voters in England, they won a single by-election against an unpopular candidate standing as an independent. Labour are still Britain’s second largest political party.

  2. “I think the Conservatives are going to have a very good night indeed, and the SNP are due a jolly good thrashing due to being pro-independence and little else.”

    The SNP are still close to 50% in the polls but I do think that the Conservatives will make advances at the expense of the SNP in rural areas (particularly in the NE and South of Scotland) but in Central Scotland, Glasgow and Lanarkshire their gains will be from Labour.

    In Glasgow, I can now see the Conservatives winning Labour seats in wards other than Pollokshields or the new Partick East/ Kelvindale (that also covers Kelvinside, Hyndland and Dowanhill).

  3. I think Labour have more of a problem from the Greens than Conservatives in Kelvin.

  4. It’s not exactly impossible. They have a councillor in Ayr North which had a Yes vote of around 55% and they would’ve had a councillor elected in Irvine West had the by-election been for 4 seats (an area where the Yes camp took around 51% of the vote in 2014). I think that the Conservatives will manage to take one councillor in a number of Glasgow’s 4 member wards.

  5. Lol!

    The Yes vote here was 34.7% so I don’t think so unless then SNP repeat their poor choice of candidate .

  6. And boundary change may well transform this constituency into a very winnable Conservative target.

  7. As I’ve said the proposed Edinburgh South West & Central constituency would be winnable for the party.

    It’s a little premature to be guessing who will become the leader of the Tory party in 10/15 years time. If Ruth Davidson were to stand for PM I do not believe that ambition would go down overly well in Scotland given her repeated reassurances that she will not be doing so. I also believe that her role in the Conservative recovery in Scotland is best spent as the leader of the Scottish party: it’s a gold mine just needing Ruth to stay on as the Scottish leader and time to develop.

  8. If the boundaries remain intact or thereabouts in Edinburgh South I could see Labour holding on due to the tactical nature of their vote in this area. With boundary change the Conservatives could potentially win the successor constituency: it all depends on the boundaries.

    The one constituency that we know will not be touched by boundary changes regardless of whether they go through or not is East Lothian, which is already its own designated review area meaning that it will be entitled to its own constituency if the changes pass anyway.

    The more favourable Holyrood constituency (which excludes the more SNP-inclined town of Musselburgh) did go Labour in 2016: there’s clearly a good tactical vote in the area which will probably carry on into the next general election. In saying that my overwhelming suspicion is that the Conservatives will come second behind the SNP in East Lothian at this year’s council election: so perhaps that does provide some basis of a tactical unwind there.

  9. “Tories should strengthen in South Edinburgh but may remain in 3rd because of tactical vote and unwilling to risk letting the Nats in.”

    As I’ve said it all depends on the boundaries of the constituency. Something along the lines of Edinburgh South West & Central would be good boundaries for the Conservatives: a constituency they could win on the basis of the 2016 Holyrood election.

    As for this year’s council election in Edinburgh I can see the Conservatives taking the most seats/votes there: polling ahead in the following wards:
    Pentland Hills
    Drum Brae/Gyle (?)
    City Centre

  10. Basically all parts of the Edinburgh Central, Pentlands, Southern and Western constituencies barring Sighthill/Gorgie.

  11. Revised Scottish Independence Referendum (2014) notionals for the City of Edinburgh Scottish Parliament constituencies:

    Edinburgh Southern 68% NO [Labour]
    Edinburgh Western 66% NO [Liberal Democrat]
    Edinburgh Central 64% NO [Conservative]
    Edinburgh Pentlands 61% NO [Scottish National]
    Edinburgh Northern and Leith 56% NO [Scottish National]
    Edinburgh Eastern 52% NO [Scottish National]

  12. The official figures broken down by UK parliament constituency were as follows (and I’m sure I’ve mentioned these before but it’s an interesting parallel):

    Edinburgh West: 42,946 NO (65.5%) // 22,615 YES (34.5%)
    Edinburgh South: 38,298 NO (65.3%) // 20,340 YES (34.7%)
    Edinburgh South West: 39,509 NO (61.6%) // 24,659 YES (38.4%)
    Edinburgh North and Leith: 43,253 NO (60.0%) // 28,813 YES (40.0%)
    Edinburgh East: 30,632 (52.7%) NO // 27,500 YES (47.3%)

  13. My figures would suggest that the Portobello/Craigmillar and Sighthill/Gorgie wards very narrowly voted in favour of Scottish independence while Colinton/Fairmilehead and Meadows/Morningside went No at over 70% of the vote.

  14. A very interesting article from YouGov regarding Scottish independence voting intention: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/01/27/why-have-polls-not-shown-shift-towards-scottish-in/

    From the article polling from YouGov held between August and December 2016 found that in the event of a second referendum on Scottish independence 46% intend to vote No, 39% intend to vote Yes and 11% are undecided (that breaks down to 54% No 46% Yes with Don’t Knows excluded).

    Based on the 2015 UK general election and the 2016 EU referendum No would be starting the campaign in a solid position in councils like Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway, Highland, Orkney, Shetland, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire. In contrast Yes would be looking to advance around the Central Belt, in particular around Stirling, Greater Glasgow and Edinburgh.

  15. I would anticipate that No would also do better around the North East where the Leave vote was stronger (Aberdeenshire, Angus and Moray) however the vote is more volatile in that area compared to Argyll & Bute, Dumfries & Galloway, Highland, Orkney, Shetland, Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire.

  16. There seems to be very little correlation between Indyref and EU ref voting – the 62% remain vote in Scotland came from pretty much 62% of unionists and 62% of nationalists. There isn’t much of a pattern in how council areas voted across the two referendums either.

  17. There were a number of patterns:
    – Wealthy urban areas tended to have very strong No/Remain votes – for example: East Dunbartonshire (61.2% No:71.4% Remain), East Renfrewshire (63.2% No:74.3% Remain) and Edinburgh (61.1% No:74.4% Remain).
    – Deprived urban areas tended to have decent Yes/Remain votes – for example: Glasgow (53.5% Yes:66.6% Remain) and Inverclyde (50.1% No:63.8% Yes).
    – New towns tended to have stronger Yes/Leave votes – for example: Irvine and Glenrothes both voted Yes and had good Leave votes.
    – Rural areas tended to have better Leave votes – for example Aberdeenshire (55.0% Remain), Dumfries & Galloway (53.1% Remain) and Moray (50.1% Remain).
    – Areas which are traditionally represented by the SNP tended to have better Leave votes – for example Banff & Buchan (54% Leave), Falkirk (56.8% Remain), Moray (50.1% Remain) and North Ayrshire (56.9% Remain).

  18. Yes there are those patterns – but in the round there are not really any patterns that link Yes/No to Leave/Remain directly.

  19. I see Cllr. Nick Cook is switching from the Liberton/Gilmerton ward to the Morningside ward for the forthcoming council election. A cynic might say he is carpet bagging a safer ward to win. 🙂

  20. My own post from the Vote UK site:

    Here’s a fresh set of (sketchy) notionals for all proposed initial constituencies which would be potential Conservative targets in Scotland based on the 2016 Holyrood election constituency results using my 2014 Scottish independence referendum ward notionals. The results are interesting…

    Aberdeen South
    63% No
    37% Yes

    SNP – 42
    Con – 31
    Lab – 20
    Lib – 7
    11% SNP Majority

    Ayr and Carrick
    58% No
    42% Yes

    SNP – 43
    Con – 41
    Lab – 14
    Lib – 2
    2% SNP Majority

    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
    66% No
    34% Yes

    Con – 48
    SNP – 36
    Lib – 9
    Lab – 7
    12% Conservative Majority

    Clydesdale and Eskdale
    67% No
    33% Yes

    SNP – 37
    Con – 35
    Lab – 22
    Lib – 3
    Ind – 2
    CSSI – 1
    2% SNP Majority

    Dumfries and Galloway
    64% No
    36% Yes

    Con – 41
    SNP – 38
    Lab – 18
    Lib – 3
    3% Conservative Majority

    Eastwood and Loudoun (aka. Cunninghame East)
    65% No
    35% Yes

    SNP – 37%
    Con – 33%
    Lab – 27%
    Lib – 3%
    4% SNP Majority

    Edinburgh South West and Central
    68% No
    32% Yes

    Con – 33
    SNP – 30
    Lab – 28
    Lib – 5
    Grn – 4
    Lbt – 0
    3% Conservative Majority

    Gordon and Deeside
    65% No
    35% Yes

    SNP – 39
    Con – 33
    Lib – 22
    Lab – 6
    6% SNP Majority

    Kincardine and Angus East
    60% No
    40% Yes

    SNP – 45
    Con – 37
    Lab – 10
    Lib – 8
    8% SNP Majority

    So the Conservative target list based on the 2016 Holyrood election constituency results would be:
    1. Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – 12% Conservative Majority
    2. Dumfries and Galloway – 3% Conservative Majority
    3. Edinburgh South West and Central – 3% Conservative Majority
    4. Clydesdale and Eskdale – 2% SNP Majority
    5. Ayr and Carrick – 2% SNP Majority
    6. Eastwood and Loudoun – 4% SNP Majority
    7. Gordon and Deeside – 6% SNP Majority
    8. Kincardine and Angus East – 8% SNP Majority
    9. Aberdeen South – 11% SNP Majority

    Important note: there was pro-Labour tactical voting on the constituency vote in Aberdeen South, Clydesdale, Eastwood and Edinburgh South and pro-Liberal Democrat tactical voting in Gordon.

    Based on the latest Panelbase poll the Conservatives would most likely win 7 out of the 9 listed targets.

  21. And for you Labour folk who are desperate for any good news here’s the figures for East Lothian:

    SNP – 40
    Lab – 34
    Con – 22
    Lib – 4
    6% SNP Majority

    I’m not going to attempt Edinburgh West for the Lib Dems but safe to say the boundaries are significantly better for them than the existing Edinburgh West constituency and the Edinburgh Western constituency at the Scottish Parliament: they have a good shot of gaining that seat in 2020.

  22. Excellent work NTY

    What do you say to adding a third statistic to each constituency – that of the vote shares in the EU referendum? Clearly another significant factor, though perhaps not as reliable a predictor as the others?

  23. @ BT Says: that’s tricky!

    Some really quick guesses based on Chris Hanretty’s estimates:
    Aberdeen South-
    67% Remain
    33% Leave

    Ayr and Carrick-
    59% Remain
    41% Leave

    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk-
    57% Remain
    43% Leave

    Clydesdale and Eskdale-
    57% Remain
    43% Leave

    Dumfries and Galloway-
    55% Remain
    45% Leave

    Eastwood and Loudoun-
    73% Remain
    27% Leave

    Edinburgh South West and Central-
    80% Remain
    20% Leave

    Gordon and Deeside-
    59% Remain
    41% Leave

    Kincardine and Angus East-
    59% Remain
    41% Leave

    @ Maxim/Conservative Estimate/Plopwellian Tory:

    Nope the proposed Edinburgh North and Leith constituency omits most of the more affluent areas around Edinburgh’s city centre and more closely resembles the Edinburgh Northern and Leith constituency at the Scottish Parliament. I would suggest it had a 56% No vote.

    One seat of interest for Labour could be West Renfrewshire which also went 56% No.

  24. Thanks NTY, that’s quite illuminating. To me that suggests the Eastwood and Edinburgh seats are going to be a lot harder for Tories to take. Likewise but less so Aberdeen S, which did at least have 33% Leavers.

    The others all look quite reasonable. It’s worth remembering that Tories are still polling as well as they polled at the 2016 Holyrood election, even though 23rd June has come and gone, so whilst there will be significant churn underneath the numbers I wouldn’t expect their chances in most of these others to be worse, on average.

    On the same measure, this is why I think their chances across the Moray / Aberdeenshire region, where Leave polled much closer to 50%, will have slightly improved on the 2016 results / notionals. It needs a lot more analysis and perception than simple UNS to guess where the gains will and won’t be, more than ever before – as I know you will agree.

  25. @ BT Says…:

    The latest Scottish Westminster opinion poll actually has the Conservatives on 27% of the vote (up 5% on the Holyrood constituency vote) with the SNP on 47% of the vote (which is unchanged on the Holyrood constituency vote).

    It’s important to keep in mind the fact that the Eastwood and Edinburgh Southern Holyrood constituencies had a substantial pro-Labour tactical vote which resulted in the Conservatives under-performing by 2.6% of the vote in Eastwood and by 3.1% in Edinburgh Southern in comparison to their respective regional list returns.

    I’m not sure what impact the EU referendum will have on the results of the next UK general election in Scotland although one consistent pattern from recent local council by-elections is that the Conservatives tend to be making their strongest gains in wards which had stronger Leave votes at the EU referendum: in particular around the North East of Scotland. What’s also apparent is that they are in fact making some GAINS in working class/pro-Remain areas as well: just not as strong. With this in mind Conservative gains are likely to be lowest around the Greater Glasgow region as that area had the largest Yes/Remain vote in Scotland.

    Applying the Panelbase figures to a general election and it’s likely that the Conservatives would make some gains in the proposed Edinburgh South West & Central constituency (as opposed to falling back against the SNP): they would most likely gain that seat. It’s likely that they would also gain the proposed Ayr & Carrick, Clydesdale & Eskdale and Gordon & Deeside constituencies as well as “holding” Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk and Dumfries & Galloway from the Holyrood election. Eastwood & Loudoun is a difficult one to guess although a traditional strong Conservative vote from that constituency makes me inclined to think that the constituency would vote Conservative on a 47% SNP – 27% Conservative result.

    Moray & Nairn would require a swing FROM the SNP to the Conservatives on the Holyrood election. It’s possible but with a 43% Yes vote from that constituency I’m not convinced that the Conservatives will be competitive in that area unless they manage to bring the SNP down towards 45% of the vote nationally.

  26. Moray and Nairn would require a direct swing from SNP to Conservative.*

  27. The secondary consultation period on the proposed boundary changes has begun. As a part of this all responses from members of the public have been publicised.

    Here’s the basic run-down from areas which had a significant number of responses:

    Over 300 responses:
    Ayr, Prestwick and Troon: in favour of joining up Ayr, Prestwick and Troon into a single Westminster constituency

    Over 200 responses:
    Banchory: in protest to splitting up Banchory from the rest of Royal Deeside

    Over 100 responses:
    Dumfriesshire: in protest to joining up Eskdale with Clydesdale
    East Dunbartonshire: in protest to splitting up Bearsden
    Edinburgh South West & Central: mixed response, some in support of the proposed Edinburgh South West & Central constituency and others in support of Ian Murray’s counter-proposal
    South Perthshire: in protest to joining up South Perthshire with Cowdenbeath

  28. Ian Murray’s counter-proposal from the proposed Edinburgh South West and Central boundaries would see City Centre move in with Edinburgh East, swapped out for Southside/Newington.

    This change would actually create Scotland’s ONLY Conservative-Labour marginal: a constituency with a substantial 70% No vote where the SNP would be unlikely to come first or second.

  29. Just like to add from a more personal perspective:
    – Glad to see such a strong response from my own area of Ayr, Prestwick and Troon: I strongly agree with the consensus that Ayr, Prestwick and Troon belong together within a single constituency.
    – I also think that Ian Murray’s counter-proposal in Edinburgh South West & Central makes sense as the suburbs of Newington and Southside are very similar in character to one another and share a number of services etc.

  30. It is possible to include Banchory in with the proposed Gordon and Deeside constituency through ward-splitting.

    This would result in Kincardine joining up with Montrose, Brechin, Forfar and Kirriemuir to form “Kincardine and North Angus”, leaving the eastern part of Dundee to join up with Monifieth, Carnoustie and Arbroath as “Dundee East and South Angus”.

    Personally I much prefer these boundaries.

    Gordon and Deeside would become a very likely Conservative gain on current public opinion polling with the inclusion of Banchory (having voted against independence at around 67% No 33% Yes), with Kincardine and North Angus also becoming a much stronger Conservative target in comparison with the proposed Kincardine and Angus East constituency (voting roughly 62% No 38% Yes).

    If these changes do go through the Conservatives will be in a good position in the North East of Scotland where boundaries are concerned…

  31. No it’s really not? These changes are scheduled to go through from the government’s manifesto from 2015.

  32. The boundary changes are mandated by the government’s manifesto, the fact that they are now overdue and popular support from the general public.

  33. Last time the vote went 334 against – 292 for. Even if 20-odd Conservative MP’s rebel or abstain from the vote this time around it’s likely that the plans will pass. It’s also likely that other parties will support the changes as they are clearly grounded in the Conservative majority government’s manifesto and are overdue (as I’ve mentioned).

  34. It’s hard to see why any fair-minded person would put up a roadblock to passing boundary changes. Way overdue, and only giving due respects to the voters by correcting the unfair weighting of different constituencies due to population ‘drift”.

    I also believe that it will appear less political, and therefore harder to gain support from the public for opposing, under May’s leadership than under Cameron’s.

    Though there is still a possibility that boundary changes go ahead whilst, after all, retaiing 650 MPs. But that would take quite a while to adjust and then get passed.

  35. On a different note, NTY – do you think that proportional swing or uniform swing is a more accurate way of predicting changes in Scottish seats based on current polling? Or does even this depend on which party you’re talking about?

    I can imagine proportional swing being more effective in predicting Conservative vote share changes from 2016 to next GE in individual seats – meaning that in a seat where they are already on eg. 32% they might easily get 40% not 37%, whereas in a seat where they are on 10% they might just get 13% not 15%.

    That’s even before you take into account other factors that always vary the swing away from the national trend of course. (eg in fact that ‘40%’ might actually prove to be 45% – or 35% – based on other pull factors / strength of candidates etc. – as happens at every election). Hence also a word of caution about assuming eg SNP not falling to a losing % in a clutch of seats where they might be expected to retain closer to 50% still based on UNS).

  36. I like Peter Bone, but I’m not sure that too many MPs would take a cue from him – in fact it might work the other way!

  37. @ BT Says…: When I comment on here I tend to use universal swing for safety, although the truth is that it’s a lot more complicated than that. For the SNP I do tend to keep the Scottish independence referendum results in mind as they rarely slip below the Yes vote in any given constituency.

    In practice I think that there are a whole mix of factors in play when determining where the Conservatives are more likely to increase their vote and where they are not. Naturally you would expect areas with stronger Leave/No votes to return larger swings towards the Conservatives (so much of north-east and southern Scotland). In saying that you’ve got a more exhausted Conservative vote in places like Ayr and Edinburgh Pentlands, which could limit any vote increase in those areas. A good point of reference will be the 2017 local elections this May!

  38. NTY

    Fair enough. Thanks for replying. Yes, each election between now and 2020 will give a few more indications in this new epoch that we are in – and no doubt the odd red herring or two as well!

  39. Given the recent polling, the electorate may be in two minds about who is best placed to beat the SNP here (if that is the predominant aim).

    There may therefore be an SNP gain here if they field a good candidate.

  40. Stephanie Smith has been selected for the Conservatives. She also happens to be standing for the Liberton/Gilmerton ward at next weeks council election.

  41. Does that mean a by election for the council seat if she is elected to parliament?

  42. The Greens look to be standing aside here for the SNP. The SNP had a poor candidate here last time around as well, and this constituency had a massive Remain vote.

    At the very least I would expect the SNP vote to increase slightly, probably to the 2014 referendum Yes vote of 35% here.

    A Conservative gain here is unrealistic right now I would say: Labour are well-organised in this part of Edinburgh and have developed as the clear anti-SNP favourites in this constituency.

    The Edinburgh South Westminster boundaries are also not comparable with the Edinburgh Southern Holyrood boundaries as the Holyrood seat omits the most of the SNP’s best ward of Liberton/Gilmerton, where the Conservatives are weakest.

  43. I suspect that this will be a tight Labour-SNP marginal where the result will very much depend on how much of the Labour vote breaks over to the Conservatives, and whether or not the SNP gain votes from disgruntled No/Remain voters here.

    I would put the SNP as the favourites. The Conservatives don’t really stand a chance.

  44. If you’ve nowt t’seh, seh nowt!

    LAB 39.2
    SNP 32.7
    CON 25.8
    LDEM 4.3
    April 27th, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Based on 102% which I have just made up as a guess on the back of my fag packet.

  46. Ian Murray has done an incredible job two elections in a row. Hats off to him if he can hold on again.

  47. He has done well but the main reason he won last time was that the SNP selected a complete clown as a candidate.

  48. Scottyboy’s right, in theory this seat should be similar/slightly better for Labour over East Renfrewshire.

    Ian Murray just got lucky in 2015 with the perfect storm of anti-SNP tactical votes from the Lib Dems and Tories in Edinburgh South alongside a questionable SNP candidate and a poorly managed SNP campaign around Morningside and Newington.

  49. The Conservatives had a considerable stronger notional vote in 2001 on the new boundaries (effectively bringing them to a competitive third place). Tactical voting against Labour in 2005 and 2010 and then for Labour in 2015 has greatly suppressed the potential Conservative vote.

    Without the Neil Hay factor Murray may have suffered the same fate as Russell Brown in Dumfries & Galloway of not only losing his seat but also being beaten into third place by the Conservatives.

    I agree that Ian Murray was certainly a lucky man.

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