Banff & Buchan

2015 Result:
Conservative: 13148 (28.8%)
Labour: 2647 (5.8%)
Lib Dem: 2347 (5.1%)
SNP: 27487 (60.2%)
MAJORITY: 14339 (31.4%)

Category: Very safe SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, North East. Part of Aberdeenshire council area.

Main population centres: Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Rosehearty, Banff, Turriff, Macduff, Portsoy, Aberchirder,.

Profile: A largely coastal seat in the north of Aberdeenshire. Peterhead and Fraserburgh are major fishing ports.

Politics: Banff and Buchan was most associated with Alex Salmond, its MP for 23 years between 1987 and 2010. Under Salmond the seat was eventually built into an extremely safe SNP stronghold. Salmond himself returned as the MP for neighbouring Gordon in 2015.

Current MP
EILIDH WHITEFORD (Scottish National Party) Born 1969, Aberdeen. Educated at Banff Academy and Glasgow University. Former campaigns manager. First elected as MP for Banff and Buchan in 2010.
Past Results
Con: 11841 (31%)
Lab: 5382 (14%)
LDem: 4365 (11%)
SNP: 15868 (41%)
Oth: 1010 (3%)
MAJ: 4027 (10%)
Con: 7207 (19%)
Lab: 4476 (12%)
LDem: 4952 (13%)
SNP: 19044 (51%)
Oth: 1537 (4%)
MAJ: 11837 (32%)
Con: 6207 (20%)
Lab: 4363 (14%)
LDem: 2769 (9%)
SNP: 16710 (54%)
Oth: 757 (2%)
MAJ: 10503 (34%)
Con: 9564 (24%)
Lab: 4747 (12%)
LDem: 2398 (6%)
SNP: 22409 (56%)
Oth: 1060 (3%)
MAJ: 12845 (32%)

2015 Candidates
ALEX JOHNSTONE (Conservative) Born 1961, Kincardineshire. Educated at Mackie Academy. Former dairy farmer. Contested West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine 2005, 2010. MSP for North East Scotland since 1999.
SUMON HOQUE (Labour) Born 1982. Educated at Aberdeen University. Businessman.
DAVID EVANS (Liberal Democrat)
Comments - 197 Responses on “Banff & Buchan”
  1. Who would have thought this seat would be more statisically “winnable” for the Tories than East Renfrewshire! Jimmy Buchan’s personal vote probably had something to do with the massive swing for them last time round. It’s actually quite surprising there’s still that much of a Conservative vote despite Alex Salmond/SNP dominance for the last 25+ years.

    I’d imagine Eilidh Whiteford will increase her majority in 2015.

  2. A closer look at the result in Banff in February 1974-
    Watt (SNP, 11, 037, 46.11%, +23.2%)
    Baker (Conservative, 8, 252, 34.47%, -4.24%)
    Fraser (Liberal, 3, 121, 13.04%, -7.97%)
    Dool (Labour, 1, 528, 6.38%, -10.99%)

    Majority- 2, 785 (11.63%)
    Swing- +13.72% From Con to SNP.

  3. I think Whiteford will increase her majority here in 2015, and that the Tories and Lib Dems could fall back.

  4. Interesting question though is if the referendum fails then “whither the SNP” at the national level.. we can see them soldiering on locally and prospering but what will they have to say at Westminster? Will they be seen as second-class representatives? If so then your thesis of higher share is maybe a bit premature until we see what comes out in the wash of the referendum.

    A good example to look at may be the PQ in Quebec who have had repeated setbacks in the referendum efforts and have NO Federal MPs (the Bloc Quebecois holds a mere 4 seats out of 413 at the national level)…

  5. I suppose one spanner in the works is if the SNP lose the referendum, will a lot of the soft vote move to other parties or stick with them to keep the Tories out?

  6. I just don’t understand what the SNP will have to “say” as Westminster MPs after a referendum defeat.

    AV has disappeared from the LibDem dialogue since the referendum defeat, if Scottish independence is off the agenda then are the SNP (in Westminster) not a one-legged stool that lost their last leg?

  7. SNP HOLD MAJ: 16.2%
    SNP 43
    CON 26
    LAB 17
    LD 7
    UKIP 3
    GRN 2
    OTH 2

  8. Prediction for 2015-
    Whiteford (SNP)- 50%
    Conservative- 24%
    Labour- 15%
    Liberal Democrat- 5%
    UKIP- 4%
    Others- 2%

  9. Another one for Pete to admire:

    Truly bizarre.

  10. Pretentiousness overload here:

    “The character is a strong woman with an enquiring mind and a sense of social justice, the qualities we would like Scotland to have also”

  11. Alex Salmond’s electoral record in Banff and Buchan-
    1. 1987- 19, 462 (44.3%, +6.8%, 2, 441 (5.6%) majority)
    2. 1992- 21, 954 (47.5%, +3.2%, 4, 108 (8.9%) majority)
    3. 1997- 22, 409 (55.8%, +8.3%, 12, 845 (32.0%) majority)
    4. 2001- 16, 710 (54.2%, -1.6%, 10, 503 (34.1%) majority)
    5. 2005- 19, 044 (51.2%, -3.0%, 11, 837 (31.8%) majority)

  12. Alex Salmond clearly had a large personal vote here when he was the MP. That much is obvious from the result in 2010.

    He seems to have carried this over to Holyrood, albeit at Gordon. In the equivalent seat to this one, the SNP do even better even without Salmond as candidate for the Banff and Buchan Coast seat, so it’s perhaps become their natural strength now.

    All the same, I do think the SNP’s strength here at Westminster level is attributable to Salmond- This seat was marginal until the landslide of 1997. That election came along and has clearly knocked the Tories out of contention in a huge swathe of seats in Scotland ever since. But although his gain of this seat from Albert McQuarrie was solid in terms of vote share increase (a bit like East Angus and Moray which the SNP also gained in 1987) that at the time it may have looked in line with the party’s strong performance in North East Scotland. But 1992 showed a stronger result for Salmond than Andrew Welsh and Margaret Ewing I would say for two reasons- He was party leader, and began to cultivate his personal vote. After all, unlike in the other two seats, the SNP majority actually increased here.

  13. List of televised seats Scotland Today showed brief clips of during their results report
    Of the 1997 General Election-
    1. Edinburgh East And Musselburgh
    2. Edinburgh West
    3. Edinburgh Pentlands
    4. Perth
    5. North Tayside
    6. Eastwood
    7. Galloway and Upper Nithsdale
    8. Argyll and Bute
    9. Banff and Buchan
    10. Hamilton South
    11. Dunfermline East
    12. Gordon
    13. West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
    14. Aberdeen South
    15. Stirling
    16. Ayr
    17. Glasgow Govan


  14. If the Tories get a decent candidate in here they might be able to “stay in touch” for the next election in 2020. I’d still expect an SNP hold atm.

  15. Of the seats that I don’t see any chance of changing hands, this is one of the most intriguing. Specifically, that the reduced majority was a straight swing from SNP to Tory, rather than a swing which was significantly impacted by the SNP vote going to other parties.

    Of course the SNP draws centre right voters due to being the only noteworthy nationalist party, but what’s less obvious is why said voters would give a personal vote to a left-wing leader, and yet not continue to vote nationalist when an independence referendum was starting to look plausible. I would have assumed the opposite: that left-leaning unionists would be the ones who went elsewhere in 2010.

  16. Alex Salmond must have had a huge personal vote here, particularly if the result here last time is anything to go off.

    I would personally be surprised if, on the basis of first-time incumbency alone, Eilidh Whiteford didn’t manage to increase her majority to about 6-7,000.

  17. The Conservatives also had a very strong candidate in 2010….The skipper from the BBCs Trailer men.

  18. Yes they did but I would be surprised if the SNP lead did not increase here next time.

  19. Peter Kellner of YouGov — “Salmond within touching distance of victory”:

  20. It’s looking possible but I highly doubt it.
    It’s perhaps less significant than the 2 polls showing Labour leads in the 1979 campaign.

    Salmond’s pitch is unashamedly left wing and badly thought through but he has stumbled across something which may resonate, and the No campaign looks patronising and scaremongering.

  21. Jim Sillars has lost it whilst loudhailering in his Margo Mobile. He said there’ll be, “a Day of Reckoning” for No supporters when Yes wins and suggested they should leave the Country. He then went on to say BP should be nationalised by an independent Scotland.

  22. Antiochian – whatever the result, there’s little point in being an SNP MP.

  23. Jim Sillars has a history of making or breaking. He removed Labour’s overall majority in 1975 for example; it wasn’t to return for 22 years. And then he brought the SNP back to prominence with the 1988 Govan by-election win.

  24. “He then went on to say BP should be nationalised by an independent Scotland.”

    Sillars obviously doesn’t realise that most of BP’s assets are not under UK jurisdiction and are therefore untouchable by any nationalisation attempt. I highly doubt that BP will be stupid enough to legally headquarter its UK assets in an independent Scotland. I do not expect Westminster to roll over and allow the Scots to take the majority of North Sea oil, and most likely the Americans will be anxious to keep them in UK hands to avoid exactly the kind of scenario Jim Sillars wants to bring about. It is entirely possible that an independent Scotland could end up with little or no oil should the US decide to play hardball with them on the issue.

  25. HH – exactly. In fact all of these companies are UK-listed PLCs. I don’t even think the SNP has realised they’d need their own Stock Exchange, FSA, Security Service etc. Or rather they don’t want people to think about it all. Re oil, I’m surprised no-one has raised the fact that not all oil reserves are within Scottis waters. IIRC 25% would come under N Ireland or Rockall, which are both British. Andy JS – yes, Sillars also alleged a few months ago, that MI5 are involved in dirty tricks rather than the cyber Nats!

  26. It’s a non-calculated insult I reckon. A crass misjudgement which has turned out to be insulting. And a very very false comparison.

  27. Nationalists making comments which could be perceived – rightly or wrongly – as prejudiced?

    Surely not.

  28. The more apt comparison with South Africa is the immense amount of sacrifice, forgiveness, restraint, patience, economic pain, effort and above all time required to transition to the promised land. We are still 40 or 50 years away from a South Africa that will truly provide equality of opportunity for all. Yet the economic pain shouldered even to get to this point has been immense. In the 1970s, one South African Rand was worth two pounds. Today, two pounds are worth 35 Rand. I imagine the Scottish Groat will follow a similar trajectory.

  29. I can’t help feeling we should really be asking ourselves why clowns like Sillars and slightly creepy would be caudillos like Salmond have so much appeal in Scotland. Something must be badly wrong for this to be so.

  30. I wonder if those who are adamant about voting yes and those who’ve recently converted to it actually care about the very real risks that independence has to Scotland’s economy. Especially if you consider how much of the Yes movement is non-SNP and a lot further to the left of what Salmond has proposed. I.e. people who don’t listen to what business are saying because they’re all following “neoliberalism” (a tired, overused word by parts of the left).

    It’s probably hyperbolic to say an independent Scotland will turn into Europe’s answer to Venezuela, but it won’t exact;y be one that other economies would aspire to be like.

  31. What an independent Scotland might look like is fairly unpredictable I would say.

    But the scope for widespread disappointment s very large I would say given how outlandish some of the promises being made by the yes side are – and how weirdly heterogeneous the yes side are, ranging from right-wing nationalists through economic liberals to far-left utopians.

    The SNP’s attempt to court the underclass vote for this referendum is storing up quite a lot of trouble for them should they win, I think.

  32. I think the Tories should try and get this seat.

  33. They won’t though whatever the referendum result. They’d be better off concentrating on W Aberdeenshire & Kincardine where they do have a genuine chance.

  34. I was quite encouraged by the result here last time – almost stupendous momentum but as you say there were special factors and a long way further to go.

  35. Far from staying silent, Jim Sillars is touring BBC, Sky, ITN Studios, repeating his rant! The Iceland CEO said he’s, “talking b*******.”

  36. Eilidh Whiteford doesn’t have Alex Salmond’s personal vote to fall on, but she might have built up an incumbency quietly in the last 4 years in this seat. She does seem pretty low profile in Westminster compared to some of the other SNP MPs.

  37. HM Queen has apparently said that, “people should think very carefully about the future, before giving up what we all have.” The Telegraph goes with it as their front page, although the significance seems to be that the press were ushered up to photograph/film the conversations. Simon Danczuk MP and Henry Bellingham MP both state that it means the Queen wants a No vote. Rupert Murdoch has tweeted that the SNP aren’t talking about independence, but “want more welfarism, expensive greenery and interference from Brussels” indicating that Salmond courting him has failed.

  38. More or Less with Tim Harford – “Understanding the Scottish referendum polls”:

  39. Of course the Queen wants a No vote. She has loved Balmoral since childhood and won’t be able to bear to let it go (as she most certainly would have to if Yes win).

    But, quite rightly, she cannot and will not comment publicly on political matters and I believe that even on something as fundamental as this she is right to keep quiet. I shudder to think what kind of mess King Charles and Queen Camilla would make of this, were they in charge.

  40. HH – I don’t think even Jim Sillars would suggest nationalising Balmoral. Unless you mean it could become the British Embassy in Scotland? Incidentally, I’m surprised none of the media have gone negative on Salmond personally, as happened with Clegg just before the 2010 General. My colleague who is Scottish, but works in England suspects its because so much of the media are physically in London. He mentioned that Salmond’s wife is 18 years older than him and is never seen with him and he drinks a lot at racecourses. It may be that that wouldn’t harm him in Scotland, but I suspect if he was a politician in England, the media would have investigated his background in the way they did Boris, Ken or the LibDem leadership hopefuls etc.

  41. Anthony Wells is one of those interviewed in the radio programme linked to above.

  42. “Eilidh Whiteford doesn’t have Alex Salmond’s personal vote”

    How could she have a personal vote? She’s not a LibDem.

  43. Oh that’s easily fixed – she can defect to the LDs & then suddenly she will have an enormous personal vote. And there will be momentum too.

  44. And will attract infinite numbers of Labour tactical votes of course.

  45. Balmoral is the personal property of the Royal Family, not a property of the State, so they wouldn’t lose it. Not a royalist so just saying.

  46. Perhaps Jim Sillars has his eyes on it as a future dacha

  47. “Balmoral is the personal property of the Royal Family, not a property of the State, so they wouldn’t lose it.”

    The “personal property of the Royal Family” is intertwined with the state, and if the state breaks in half their assets north of the border will be intertwined with the Scottish state.

    Even if the Scottish government does not eventually turn it into Alex Salmond’s Chequers, it is politically inconceivable that the Queen’s main summer residence could be in a foreign country.

  48. “it is politically inconceivable that the Queen’s main summer residence could be in a foreign country.”

    She is directly descended from the Scottish monarchs which decided to condemn England to hundreds of years of Scottish oppression, and would remain head of state either until her death (easier to convince people to break away from the monarchy with Charles on the throne), or until Salmond decided that publicly telling her to [even I know that some things will get you moderated] would win him one more vote than it would cost him.

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