Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles)

2015 Result:
Conservative: 1215 (7.6%)
Labour: 4560 (28.6%)
Lib Dem: 456 (2.9%)
SNP: 8662 (54.3%)
Christian: 1045 (6.6%)
MAJORITY: 4102 (25.7%)

Category: Safe SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Highlands and islands. The whole of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar area.

Main population centres: Stornoway.

Profile: Na h-Eileanan an lar covers the Western Isles (the seat was called Western Isles until 2005). It covers the Outer Hebridies, the further reaches of the archipeligo off the coast of north-western Scotland, including the islands of Lewis and Harris, North Uist, South Uist, Barra, Benbecula, Scalpay, Great Bernera, Grimsay and the uninhabited St Kilda. The only town on the Outer Hebridies is the fishing port of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, from where ferries sail to the mainland. Stornoway also has an airport with services to the mainland. The seat is socially as well as geographically somewhat isolated: Gaelic is widely spoken, the Western Isles are the only area in Scotland were over 60% of people speak Gaelic. Sunday Observance is also still widely observed on the Islands, particularly in the Northern islands, with a widespread refusal to trade or travel on the Sabbath, due to the continuing strength of the Free Church and Free Presbyterian Church. In 2006 considerable controversey was caused with the opening of a ferry service to Lewis that operated on Sundays.

Politics: Na h-Eileanan an lar has the smallest electorate of any seat in the country with just over 20,000 voters, only a third of the size of most constituencies. Attempts to link the counstituency with others have always foundered on the geographical size of the area and problems of travel and communications for the MP. Politically the seat has been a marginal between the SNP and Labour since the war. In both 2005 and 2010 it was one of only a few seats where the Conservatives failed to retain their deposit. In the 1975 referendum on continued membership of the European Union, the Western Isles and Shetland Isles were the only areas to vote no.


Current MP
ANGUS MACNEIL (Scottish National Party) Born 1970, Barra. Educated at Nicholson Institute, Stornoway and Strathclyde University. Former teacher and BBC worker. Contested Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber 2001. First elected as MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar in 2005. A native speaker of Gaelic. MacNeil brough the original complaint that lead to the police investigation into "loans for peerages".
Past Results
2010
Con: 647 (4%)
Lab: 4838 (33%)
LDem: 1097 (7%)
SNP: 6723 (46%)
Oth: 1412 (10%)
MAJ: 1885 (13%)
2005
Con: 610 (4%)
Lab: 4772 (34%)
LDem: 1096 (8%)
SNP: 6213 (45%)
Oth: 1145 (8%)
MAJ: 1441 (10%)
2001*
Con: 1250 (9%)
Lab: 5924 (45%)
LDem: 849 (6%)
SNP: 4850 (37%)
Oth: 286 (2%)
MAJ: 1074 (8%)
1997
Con: 1071 (7%)
Lab: 8955 (56%)
LDem: 495 (3%)
SNP: 5379 (33%)
Oth: 206 (1%)
MAJ: 3576 (22%)

2015 Candidates
MARK BROWN (Conservative) Financial services manager.
ALASDAIR MORRISON (Labour) Born 1968, Stornoway. Educated at Nicolson Institute. Journalist. Contested MSP for Western Isles 1999-2007.
RUARAIDH FERGUSON (Liberal Democrat)
ANGUS MACNEIL (SNP) See above.
JOHN CORMACK (Christian)
Links
Comments - 443 Responses on “Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles)”
  1. Trump getting Covid is probably more damaging to him than it would be to a normal presidential candidate. He relies almost exclusively on monopolising the authoritarian populist vote – you know, the low-engagement voters who are looking for a strongman to go and shake things up. Well, when your appeal rests on being a strongman, being rushed to hospital is absolutely a blow to your so-called credibility.

  2. Problem is Trump is fooling no one with his tough guy act – even some of his most ardent supporters agree he’s been wreckless

    Of what remains, tonight’s debate between Pence and Harris should be intriguing. On the face of it you’d expect somebody as sharp and forensic as Harris to wipe the floor with the hapless Pence, but I’m not sure if the Vice President is quite the simpleton he seems, so republicans will be hoping he can pull something out the bag for Trump

    He needs it with a couple of recent polls showing Biden with double digit leads. I can’t see that continuing but Trump has it all to do – and increasingly it doesn’t look like he’s going to manage it

  3. Biden seems to be pulling away in the polls now – some of them are giving him a double digit lead. If Trump’s COVID-catching episode was an exaggeration to try to get him sympathy / make him look like a tough guy (both are common suspicions on the American left), it has backfired spectacularly.

    I am also heartened from personal anecdotes I have picked up from the US. Though it’s a very polarised country nowadays there was still a bit of middle ground in 2016 for Trump to benefit from….eg midwestern voters who didn’t like Clinton and thought Trump would be good for the economy. A former colleague of mine in Pittsburgh fits that description well and voted Trump in 2016 for those kind of reasons, chatting with him the other day he was blistering about Trump and clearly won’t be voting for him. At least in PA, his birthplace after all, Biden goes down much better than Hillary did.

  4. Betting markets now are 1/2 Biden. So 66% Biden 33% Trump.

  5. Is there not a worry of the US equivalent of shy Tories taking effect here – ie: people too embarrassed to admit to pollsters they support Trump

    In places like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio – which despite what the polls are currently will be knive-edge results – it could make all the difference.

    Having said that, Biden’s numbers in the industrial mid west make it look almost certain he’ll retake Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin

  6. I’m not really sure “shy Tories” is even a problem in British polling any more. The 2015 polling miss was IIRC less about shy Tories and more a result of overestimating the turnout of labour-leaning demographics. Which means that the last election with an authentic shy Tory problem was 1992, when I was still in nappies. A notable difference between 2015 and 1992 was that in the latter, even the exit poll got it wrong, and exit polls don’t have to worry about turnout because by definition they only interview people who have actually voted. But 1992 is so ingrained into the minds of poll-watchers that “shy Tories” has become this paper tiger for the polling industry.

    As for an American equivalent – I suspect a shy Trump phenomenon would be dependent on neighbourhood. There are still redneck areas where Trump support is the norm and there is no reason to be shy about it. There may be some shy Trump effect in the cities, but I don’t see any reason why it should be a bigger issue than it was in 2016, and at this point, with Biden regularly posting double-digit leads, Trump would need an anomolously large number of shy voters to cling onto the White House.

  7. Second council by-election since the lockdown held here (first one was in Orkney last week), in Na Hearadh agus Ceann a Deas nan Loch ward

    37.7% turnout

    Ind Grant Fulton 536 votes
    Ind Annie McDonald 158
    Ind Kris O’Donnell 22

  8. Ty Andrea…you’ll forgive me for not having a view on that recent by election.

    The ‘shy Trump’ theory has been poo pooed by some of the pundits…Nate Silver I think doesn’t believe it, for example.

    I’m with Tim Jones, though, I suspect there might still be a tiny shy factor. Only one or two in a hundred maybe but in a close race that’s significant.

    Am still sticking with:
    Biden pop. vote.
    Trump electoral college.

  9. Have to say Mark I can’t see how Trump can win it in the electoral college. With Virginia and Colorado now more or less safe Democrat states, Biden can afford to lose states where he is currently ahead like Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa and Arizona – so long as he wins back Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and the size of his poll leads suggest he surely will

    To win the electoral college Trump has to win nearly all of those aforementioned states and I just see can’t see him doing that He will win some of them – maybe as many as half – but it won’t be enough

  10. Just wrote a huge post..then system crashed. Damn.

    Any way basically Trump won’t win COL VS PA…but he doesn’t need to.

    He can get to 280 if he wins Michigan Wisconsin OH FL AZ (and winsthe others he’s slight fav eg..TX NC). It’s a tie 269 each if he wins Michigan Wisconsin OH FL et al but loses AZ.

    I know it all sounds unlikely and Biden looks a big favourite but I think the postal voting, Biden’s health and his running mate could boost Trumps vote. I think the polling might be underestimating / failing to reach properly the “silent majority”

  11. (VS = VA Virginia).

    So in summary I disagree with you that Biden is a shoo-in in Michigan Wisconsin and even Pennsylvania but as I say DJT can still win – or tie – without PA

  12. Ipsos published a indy ref question today with what i must assume is the lowest no vote so far. Only 39% of respondents said no to whether Scotland should be an independent country

  13. As a staunch Unionist it’s saddens me to say that it seems a matter of when rather if Scotland becomes an independent country and I can’t imagine Boris Johnson will be overly keen to go down as the man in office when the most successful political union in the entire went up in smoke, despite many in his party not seeming to care too much one way or the other – another sad development from a party that used to be pretty uncompromising in its support for the union.

    From a personal point of view, I think Scotland breaking up from the UK is every bit as mad as the UK leaving the EU and it’s farcical seeing SNP politicians relying of the very same arguments they regularly poured scorn on when used in the Brexit debate

  14. it’s interesting. These are two issues I’ve never found myself particularly on one side or the other. I voted with no real convinction to Remain in the EU and if I lived in Scotland I’d probably have done the same to remain in the UK. I found myself becoming increasingly eurosceptic and fairly supportive of Scottish independence. I think mainly I feel very disillusioned by politics atm. Scottish independence is a very emotional idea. It provokes excitement and fear. It seems to be the only thing that provokes any emotional response that isn’t ‘I’m fed up of Brexit/Covid’

    I don’t see Boris budging though.

  15. The Scottish Nationalists want their independence from the British Union but want to rejoin another Union/Empire – one btw which destroyed their own fishing industry!

    And “once in a lifetime/generation” that all the top SNP polticians agreed and stated in 2014, means in my book, there shouldn’t be another one until – at the earliest – 2032.

  16. Totally agree Mark. Pro-independence activists never tired of voicing the once in a generation argument during the referendum thus can hardly complain when their opponents wish to hold them to it. A generation for me is 20 years so yes the earliest a second referendum could take place would be 2034 – when of course the situation is likely to be entirely different – not least because we would have been out of the EU for over a decade by then

  17. Realistically I think Labour’s only shot at government in 2024 is with SNP support which price will be indyref2 which might cost Labour seats in England

  18. 2024 is a long way away and many massively important political things – Brexit and Covid – happen between then and now, making any kind of election prediction impossible at this stage.

    Labour’s support for the Union has always been shallow and now there’s no shortage of the Tories – typically on the English Nationalist Right like Baker and Leigh etc – who see eye to eye with the SNP and want rid of Scotland.

    That’s a relatively new phenomenon, and a profoundly depressing one from a party to whom support of the Union was once a pre-requisit

    Has to be said the current governments strange blend of English nationalism, state socialism and control from the centre are all philosophies that Conservatives used to oppose.

    Everyone knows Boris is an out and out opportunist but I’m genuinely surprised by how many colleagues are willing to drop principles that were once fundamental to being a Tory

  19. Matt: honestly, I don’t think most people in England care about Scotland one way or the other. I’m not sure it would shift many votes. I know there was a theory it did in 2015, but so much has changed since then I’m not sure that would apply by 2024.

  20. It was used fairly successful by Boris last year too, ‘under Labour there would be two referendums in 2020’

  21. Boris won the election because he was up against Jeremy Corbyn – who was disliked equally by the rich – who feared he would steal their money – and poor – who saw him as an unpatriotic terrorist sympathiser.

    Boris’ get Brexit done played well in the seats that he managed to flip for the Tories – and there wasn’t much support for a second referendum on Brexit – another referendum on Scotland just wasn’t an issue south of the boarder

    It’s this indifference from those who live elsewhere in the UK that is perhaps why Scotland might go it alone

  22. The Labour Party actually arguably performed better amongst the rich than the poor. The Tory lead was largest amongst C2, almost double what it was amongsy ABC1

  23. Worth bearing in mind that the ABC1C2DE classification ie not a perfect proxy for wealth. Other metrics, such as home ownership, still make the Tories the party of the rich, albeit by historically small margins.

  24. Biden clear favourite (c. 70% or more) in WI MI NC GA. Also roughly a 60% fav in crucial FL and AZ. He’s 85% fav in Virginia!

    His polling is holding up, probably because the fears that he would be badly exposed has been proved wrong; he’s held it together.

    Would have to be another big polling cock up – and this time it won’t be within margin of error(s) – if DJT won.

  25. Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico have shifted remarkably quickly into the ‘solid Democrat’ column (Biden will almost certainly win all three states by 10-15%). One wonders if Arizona is shifting in that direction too. But this is a difficult election in which to identify trends as Trump is so polarising and has such a high disapproval rating. I think Biden is almost certain to win on 3 Nov but I also think it’s going to be a grim 4 years for whoever is in power.

  26. Thf Clinton won all 3 last time. If Biden wants to win these should be solid

  27. Yes I know that. I was talking recent (i.e. last 20 years) historical trends, not the last election. I’d have thought that was extremely obvious…sorry if that wasn’t the case.

  28. Virginia has become as solid blue as neighbouring West Virginia has flipped Into solid republican territory (a state won by Carter and Dukakis in their landslide defeats in 1980 and 1988 respectively).

    Colorado and New Mexico are a bit different as Clinton won both in 92. But Virginia used to be as solidly red as the likes Oklahoma and Tennessee but has changed thanks to an influx of largely affluent voters with distinctly urban attitudes into the DC suburbs

    It’s one of only 2 states will a fully active electric chair, the other being the reactionary Tennessee

  29. Yes VA looks gone for Trump. However he’s still competitive in WI MI FL AZ NC OH and …PA (all 5% or less behind).

    He takes those and he’ll sneak home – while at the same time taking a hammering in the popular vote (it’ll be third time in last 6 GEs).

    Also worth noting Robert Cahaly of Trafalgar group – one of the few people who predicted Trump’s 2016 victory – expects the shy Trump voter effect to be greater this year than in 2016.

  30. Not sure what polls your referring to Mark as the ones I checked about 3/4 hours had Biden between 6 and 7pts ahead in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Only a fool would write Trump off entirely in these states but the polls will have to be very wrong for Trump to have any chance of winning any of those 3 States, and if that proves to be the case, it makes Florida and Ohio almost irrelevant

    People said the same in 2016 but I just can’t see a Trump route to victory.

  31. It’s all relative ofc, single digit leads suggest a more competitive race in comparison with the double digit leads of safer seats.

    Worth remembering not only did people say they didn’t see a route for Trump. People genuinely didn’t see it. Who actually predicted Wisconsin or Michigan would go for Trump. The belief was he’d have to win SC, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, NH, etc. to win. He did win 2 of those but three he didn’t and he won. Wisconsin is another blue state held by l McGovern and Walter Mondale that now leans more red than nearby swong ststes like Michigan

  32. The metropolitan v county stat is probably the dividing as most metropolitan areas are Labour today – regardless of whether they are affluent or not – whilst most non metropolitan areas tend to be Tory by and large, again regardless of whether they are prosperous or not

  33. This is a neat tool by FiveThirtyEight. Pick who wins the battleground states, and see how that changes their forecast:

    https://t.co/mr2YBY67JV

    Im coming up with 271 and 282 Trump with my two picks

  34. I’ve got Biden 335 and Trump 203

  35. Debate tonight: 2am
    Anyone interested in a prediction challenge? I’ll put a nominal £10 to win to go to charity of winner’s choice. Did this for GE2019 and 11 people joined in (I won btw!).

    It would be on the close / battleground States: 
    Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Arizona, Georgia,  Florida, Michigan, 
    Colorado, N Carolina, Maine. Nebraska 2nd Cong district, Texas, Ohio.

  36. You are on

    I’ll go on for :

    Wisconsin – Biden (DEM)
    Pennsylvania – Biden (DEM)
    New Hampshire – Biden (DEM)
    Minnesota – Biden (DEM)
    Arizona – Biden (DEM) – although only just – could be tighter than Florida
    Georgia – Trump (REP)
    Florida – Biden (DEM)
    Michigan – Biden (DEM)
    Colorado – Biden (DEM)
    North Carolina – Biden (DEM)
    Maine – Biden (DEM)
    Iowa – Trump (REP)
    Ohio – Trump (REP)
    Texas – Trump (REP) – but democrats to be close
    Nebraska urban district – Biden (DEM)
    Maine swing district – Biden (DEM)

    Predicting with my heart a bit – which seldom bodes well – but I’ll stick a tenner or whatever on that.

  37. Interesting you see Arizona closer than Florida. Arizona went Den midterm but not Florida

  38. I meant just £10 from me to the winner, there’s no entry fee.

    At this time (not final), mine are:
    Wisconsin – TRUMP
    Pennsylvania– TRUMP
    New Hamps– Biden
    Minnesota – Biden
    Arizona – TRUMP
    Georgia – TRUMP
    Florida – TRUMP
    Michigan – Biden
    Colorado – Biden
    N Carolina – TRUMP
    Maine – Biden
    Iowa – TRUMP
    Ohio – TRUMP
    Texas – TRUMP
    Neb. 2nd – TRUMP

    TRUMP 281 BIDEN 257

  39. CORRECTION: Neb. 2nd: Biden
    281 / 257

  40. Punters not much confidence in Trump win. He gone out to 3.1 on Betfair (32%). Biden is 1.47 (68%). Liquidity is high – £162 million traded.

  41. The likes of Arizona, Florida and North Carolina are likely to be so tight that they could plausibly go either way – although I think Biden has had a big and long enough lead in all 3 states to make him favourite

    Pennsylvania could well be tougher than it looks on paper – although it would be a shock were Biden not to win so the only state I really disagree with you about is left-leaning Wisconsin – which id expect to retreat to its Democratic base

  42. I wouldn’t be shocked if Wisconsin went back to the Dems but they couldn’t even win it back from Rick Scott during midterms

  43. I think you mean Scott Walker Matt

    Rick Scott is the Trump-supporting senator from Florida who used to be governor of the sunshine state.

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