Edinburgh East

2015 Result:
Conservative: 4670 (9.9%)
Labour: 14082 (29.9%)
Lib Dem: 1325 (2.8%)
SNP: 23188 (49.2%)
Green: 2809 (6%)
UKIP: 898 (1.9%)
TUSC: 117 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 9106 (19.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

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

Main population centres: Edinburgh.

Profile: This seat includes the Old Town of Edinburgh, covering Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Holyrood palace and now the Scottish Parliament (though the boundary runs along Princes Street, so the retail heart of Edinburgh lies in Edinburgh North). The redevelopment of run down flats and the arrival of the Scottish Parliament means this is now a far more modern, upmarket and desirable area. Most of the electorate however live on the other side of Arthur`s Seat and Holyrood Park in areas like Meadowbank, Duddingston, Mountcastle, Portobello, Prestonfield, Restalrig, Southside and Tollcross. There are mixed areas here, some dsirable housing, a lot of student accomodation from Napier University, Victorian tenements and a lot of council accommodation from the last century, including notoriously deprived and troubled areas like Craigmillar and Niddrie, both largely demolished and redeveloped since the 1980s.

Politics: This was a safe Labour seat that fell to the SNP in 2015. The Edinburgh East and Musselburgh seat in the Scottish Parliament, fought as the name suggests on significantly different boundaries, fell to the SNP in 2007.

Current MP
TOMMY SHEPPARD (SNP) Born Ireland. Educated at Aberdeen University. Former Hackney councillor for the Labour party. First elected as MP for Edinburgh East in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 4358 (11%)
Lab: 17314 (43%)
LDem: 7751 (19%)
SNP: 8133 (20%)
Oth: 2309 (6%)
MAJ: 9181 (23%)
Con: 4093 (10%)
Lab: 15899 (40%)
LDem: 9697 (24%)
SNP: 6760 (17%)
Oth: 3260 (8%)
MAJ: 6202 (16%)
Con: 3906 (11%)
Lab: 18124 (53%)
LDem: 4981 (14%)
SNP: 5956 (17%)
Oth: 1487 (4%)
MAJ: 12168 (35%)
Con: 6483 (15%)
Lab: 22564 (54%)
LDem: 4511 (11%)
SNP: 8034 (19%)
Oth: 526 (1%)
MAJ: 14530 (34%)

2015 Candidates
JAMES MCMORDIE (Conservative)
SHEILA GILMORE (Labour) Born 1949, Aberdeen. Edinburgh councillor 1991-2007. Contested Edinburgh Pentlands 2007 Scottish election. MP for Edinburgh East 2010 to 2015.
KAREN UTTING (Liberal Democrat) Contested Edinburgh Central 1997, Falkirk East 2001.
PETER MCCOLL (Green) Born 1980, Belfast. Educated at Edinburgh university.
TOMMY SHEPPARD (SNP) Born Ireland. Educated at Aberdeen University. Former Hackney councillor for the Labour party.
Comments - 133 Responses on “Edinburgh East”
  1. Forecast for 2015

    Lab 45
    SNP 28
    Con 10
    LD 7
    Green 6
    Others 4

    George Kerevan is one of the few SNP people that I have time for and I agree with his critique of George Osborne’s strategy here:


  2. Interesting local issue here over the building of a new High school.


  3. how did a candidate born in 1949 come to be chosen by their party in 2010?

  4. Glyn Davies was born in 1944!

    I think its good that some older people get to stand. They have something to offer.

  5. but Glyn Davies was a long shot.. this is a rock solid seat…

    I agree on having the more experienced stand…at least they are not there for 35 years…! though Strom Thurmond in the US was a pretty frightening incumbent to be stuck with forever….

  6. Cllr Alex Lunn, 34, has defected from Labour to the SNP here. He represents the Craigentinny & Duddington ward. He intends to ‘cross the floor’ this month, but made his announcement to the press last month.

  7. Makes no difference to the set up of Edinburgh City Council as it is a Lab/SNP coalition.

    I had heard rumours that he took a massive cream puff after being overlooked for the shortlist of MSP candidates.

  8. Given the LD vote is probably going to go into meltdown here, I wonder what chance of that vote switching directly to the SNP?

  9. I think the only question in this seat is now whether it will be SNP or whether they stand aside for some other yes campaigner. For example, this was the Scottish Greens best seat in 2005, so if the Edinburgh Nats really want to make a deal, I guess this would be the Greens’ choice

  10. The problem for the SNP in making a deal is that it may be their best shot at winning a seat in Edinburgh, given that Yes got 47% in the referendum here.

  11. There is no deal on the table between the SNP and the Greens. In fact, Tommy Shepherd is being touted for the seat on the part of the SNP.

    The Greens are unfortunate in Edinburgh in that an Edinburgh Central seat would be ideal for them. The same is true in Glasgow, where the Glasgow Kelvin seat in the Scottish Parliament is much more favourable to them than the UK Glasgow North seat.

  12. Another quality candidate chosen by the SNP for this seat, former tv weatherman Lloyd “all No voters are bad parents” Quinan, a former SNP MSP who left them in a huff 10 years ago to join the SSP but now sems to have returned to the SNP.

  13. Any predictions for this seat?

  14. 8% > Greens < 10%

  15. I think a lot will depend on how the Lib Dem vote splits.

    My guess is that this might just be out of the reach of the SNP. May go down to a re-count though.

  16. Upon closer inspection of the figures, the SNP need a smaller swing to take this seat than they do in Glasgow North, another seat which I think will have a knife edge result but in which the bookies have the SNP as the favourites.

    And here the SNP have the advantage of starting from second place. Maybe this will be an SNP gain after all.

  17. I don’t think you’re altogether mistaken in drawing a comparison between Glasgow North and Edinburgh East. Indeed, in 2016 we will likely see a similar picture develop in Glasgow Kelvin and the Eastern parts of Edinburgh Central) in terms of a strong Green vote emerging due to the strong student populations.

    This year, however, there are two factors that could mark key differences between the two seats.

    Firstly, are the resident student populations of Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities going to behave similarly. Probably, generally, they will, although the Greens would be expected to perform better in Edinburgh where Peter McColl is the University Rector. Both seats are likely to see a big shift towards the SNP from the Lib Dems, although Glasgow North’s higher Lib Dem share will make this more marked.

    Secondly, the rest of the seat. The West End of Glasgow is starkly different from the East End of Edinburgh. Indeed, Glasgow North combines West End hipster with the edgier area of Maryhill. In the wake of the referendum, one would imagine both of these demographics to be very favourable to the SNP. In Edinburgh East, however, there are large areas of “desirable housing”, and the more deprived areas of Craigmiller and Niddrie are relatively small in comparison with the overall size of the seat.

    I think we are bound to see much bigger swings in Glasgow North, although I would expect both to go SNP-

    Another observation on universities. It is to be expected that the voting populations of Scottish universities will have higher proportions of students from the rest of the UK. This is because virtually all students from rUK will have registered at their campus address last year (same academic year) for the referendum in order to have a voice in the referendum. On the other hand, A large percentage of Scottish students will have voted in their home towns where they where naturally registered with their households. This could take away from the general wisdom that the SNP will do well in University seats.

  18. I always thought of this seat as Scotland’s equivalent of the Cities of London and Westminster seat. It would be a big blow to Labour if they lost this constituency in May.

  19. This seat contains a real mishmash: You have the the historic old town with the castle and Holyrood Palace and deprived areas like Dumbiedykes and Niddrie. With the LD vote going down the pan Labour and the SNP will be fighting for those votes between now and May 7th. Based on the Polls, it looks like the SNP have the advantage at the moment.

  20. Despite the surge of the SNP in Scotland, I’m not sure if they’ll win any Edinburgh seats or Edinburgh commuter seats like East Lothian or seats close to the English/Scottish border such as Dumfries and Galloway as all these aforementioned seats are quite “English”. Anyone agree?

  21. Disagree. The SNP hold all the Edinburgh seats in the Scottish Parliament, except North & Leith, which Labour held by around 500 due to Malcolm Chisholm’s personal vote. I think they are clear favourites to win Edinburgh East and South West (based on the higher Yes vote in East and Ashcroft having them 13 points clear in South West). They have a good chance in N&L because Lazarowicz is less popular than Chisholm, and the other two Edinburgh seats will likely go to anyone who can get 30% of the vote, so I wouldn’t be shocked if the SNP won two and I wouldn’t be shocked if they won all five.

    They’re looking pretty good in the West Lothian seats too. Midlothian might be tight, with the SNP slight favourites, and I think East Lothian is too close to call – Labour held on by 70 votes in 2011 with Iain Grey as their candidates. Of the three border seats, I think they’re all a bit of a stretch for the SNP, although not to the extent of being an absolute shock. Ashcroft has them very competitive in Dumfries and David Mundell’s seat.

  22. In this seat, the main thing that could save Labour is if the Greens do well and take very disproportionately from the SNP.

  23. I agree @Simon.

    Labour’s best chance of holding this seat is to convince the LD voters to back them rather than the SNP.

  24. WOOF:

    Given that this is the Green’s number one target seat, and much of the 2010 Lib Dems will have been students that have now left the seat, Labour would have to compete hard for the new(ish) student vote. I am unaware of them being particularly strong among this demographic in Edinburgh.

  25. I think Woof meant that Labour should try and suggest that students and others who previously voted Lib Dem should vote Green rather than SNP.

  26. I don’t understand some of (YouGov) Nowcast projections?

    It has Edinburgh South and Edinburgh SW as SNP gains yet has Edinburgh East and Edinburgh North & Leith as Labour holds.

    I would have thought that the best seat in Edinburgh for the SNP was East because its make up is more like a West Central Scottish constituency followed by Edinburgh West where the SNP can win with a small share of the vote.

    My view is that Edinburgh South is one of the most likely Labour holds in Scotland (particularly with recent events there).

    While Edinburgh Northern & Leith was the only Edinburgh seat to not fall to the SNP in 2011, I am certain that Edinburgh South is the most likely not to be won by the SNP in 2015.

  27. SNP Gain

  28. With Kenny MacAskill standing down in the Scottish Parliamentary seat here (Edinburgh Eastern), I imagine this would benefit Kezia Dugdale, who is standing in the same constituency in 2016.

  29. Edinburgh Eastern contains much of Edinburgh South where Labour increased their majority but it is mostly made up of Edinburgh East where the SNP won by 5 figures. You could compare Kez Dugdale to David McLetchie in Edinburgh Pentlands or Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Govan. She is unlikely to win next May but could win that seat in the future if she continues to stand.

  30. Dalek – that’s true, but I think the places where Labour picked up their vote this year were the more middle class areas (Marchmont, the Grange, Morningside – hence Colin Fox’s jibe about Miss Jean Brodie), which aren’t in the Edinburgh East seat for Holyrood. The working class areas of the seat which it shares with the Holyrood seat (Gilmerton etc.) I think swung pretty solidly to the SNP.

  31. I doubt the Edinburgh East seat or it’s equivalent Edinburgh Eastern Seat in Scottish Parliament will return to Labour in the foreseeable future.

  32. Labour look set to install yet another featherweight as Scottish Labour leader. Sturgeon will eat Dugdale for breakfast. Why are Alexander, Brown and Darling sitting back and allowing their party to collapse into irrelevance with talentless minnows in charge?

    Before the election I ridiculed Neil Turner for suggesting that the Tories might eventually become the main opposition to the SNP in Scotland but if Labour carries on like this then I suppose it might happen. Certainly if Sturgeon starts to use her new powers to ratchet up taxes then it will probably cause the most revolt in the old Tory areas like Perthshire.

  33. I don’t really know what the answer is for Scottish Labour, although I think there are reasons why the three you mention are not ideal. Darling is too toxic with Yes voters, because of his role in Better Together. Alexander is too much of a moderniser and has never really shown much interest in Holyrood and Scottish politics. If just being a reasonably competent politician was enough, Jim Murphy would have done better than he did. Brown is the only one who might work, but he’s also not shown much interest in politics since 2010, and if he doesn’t have the energy and desire to do the job then he really won’t help.

    The other problem for Labour is that they really have no talent coming up. The Holyrood PLP is made up of timeservers that have survived through since 1999, most of whom will probably lose next year, and a bunch of younger people like Dugdale, who never expected to be in Parliament in 2011, but got in on the list due to Labour’s terrible constituency performance.

    The main reason that the idea of the Tories being the main opposition is a non-starter is that they have not managed to appeal to anyone new since 1997. Despite everything that’s happened in Scottish politics since then, they’re still stuck only reaching their usual 15-18%.

  34. DALEK

    “You could compare Kez Dugdale to David McLetchie in Edinburgh Pentlands or Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Govan. She is unlikely to win next May but could win that seat in the future if she continues to stand.”

    Costituency shadowing has undoubtedly been one of Labour’s problems at Holyrood since the inauguration of the Parliament. There are countless examples of SNP list MSPs who stood for a constituency several times before winning it (Sturgeon, Hyslop and MacAskill, for example). Indeed, they will do the same next year with the likes of Yusaf in Pollok, Doris in Maryhill and Brodie in Ayr.

    The Conservatives have also used the same approach to maintain a strong presence in some constituences, such as Johnstone in Angus, Annabel Goldie in North/West Renfrewshire, and even taking Galloway through Alex Fergusson in 2003.

    Even the Liberal Democrats maintained a strong presence through the continued candidature of list MSP Robert Brown in Rutherglen, and Patrick Harvie will be aiming to shadow Kelvin to the same effect.

    If Labour are to stage a recovery, they need to take the same long-term approach. Dugdale needs to stick in at Edinburgh East until the SNP slip up (of course, her probable leadership position – and subsequent sacking – may lead to her leaving the parliament before time), and the same goes for the likes of Neil Findlay in West Lothian and Jenny Marra in Dundee. Name recognition, and list representation, seems to go a long way in Holyrood elections.

  35. With Kenny MacAskill’s impending retirement, there are now 9 SNP MSPs standing down (including the Presiding Officer) at the next election, plus 3 that have left the party. This, in addition to the Dunfermline by-election loss during the last parliament, means that 13/69 SNP MSPs have so far confirmed they will stand down.

    In addition, I would expect Alex Salmond to stand down in Aberdeenshire East, and perhaps others who were also on his front bench including Mike Russell and Stewart Stevenson.

    This would mean that between 1/4 and 1/5 of the 2011 SNP members being replaced, which seems high.

  36. Is that high? I think that it makes sense that there are quite a few retirements this time round. There will be some who are not in favour with the new leadership, and some who don’t feel they have the energy to go on for another four or five years, especially post-referendum. I’d also imagine that the party would be reasonably happy for people to go now, given that next year is currently looking pretty good for them. It’s not a bad time to hand over seats to new people.

  37. Also worth noting that one of the replacements has happened already – albeit indirectly. Brian Adam died, Mark McDonald moved from the list to retain the seat in the subsequent by-election, and Christian Allard replaced McDonald on the list.

  38. What were the 1975-1996 equivalents of the present-day City Centre ward?

  39. Interesting that 3 Holyrood SNP members have left the Party. Particularly given that some of the SNP MPs at Westminster have not been members of that party for all that long, what are the chances of some SNP members at Westminster defecting before 2020. And how many SNP members will choose to be one-term MPs?

  40. Today’s “Private Eye” features Tommy Shepard as this issue’s “New Boy”, including reference to his history as a Labour Party official before he was “fired”.

  41. Scottish Labour’s Regional List Candidates

    Central Scotland
    1. Richard Leonard
    2. Monica Lennon
    3. Mark Griffin
    4. Elaine Smith
    5. Craig Martin
    6. Margaret McCulloch
    7. John Pentland
    8. LizAnne Handibode
    9. Michael McMahon
    10. Siobhan McMahon
    11. Hugh Gaffney
    12. Angela Feeney

    Glasgow (& Rutherglen)
    1. Anas Sarwar
    2. Johann Lamont
    3. James Kelly
    4. Pauline McNeill
    5. Bill Butler
    6. Patricia Ferguson
    7. James Adams
    8. Soryia Siddique
    9. Paul Martin
    10. Samantha Ritchie
    11. Hanzala Malik
    12. Anne McTaggart

    Highlands and Islands
    1. Rhoda Grant
    2. David Stewart
    3. Leah Franchetti
    4. Sean Morton
    5. Sarah Atkin
    6. John Erskine
    7. Robina Barton
    8. Gerry McGarvey

    Lothian (including Edinburgh)
    1. Kezia Dugdale
    2. Neil Findlay
    3. Sarah Boyack
    4. Daniel Johnson
    5. Lesley Hinds
    6. Jalal Chaudry
    7. Cat Headley
    8. Bernard Harkins
    9. Eilidh MacDonald
    10. Shami Khan
    11. Ann Henderson
    12. Richard Corral

    Mid Scotland and Fife
    1. Alex Rowley
    2. Claire Baker
    3. Thomas Docherty
    4. Cara Hilton
    5. Craig Miller
    6. Johanna Boyd
    7. Jamie Glackin
    8. Jayne Baxter
    9. Jim Leishman
    10. Lesley Laird
    11. Altany Craik
    12. Mary Lockhart

    North East Scotland
    1. Jenny Marra
    2. Lewis MacDonald
    3. Lesley Brennan
    4. Richard McCready
    5. Sarah Duncan
    6. Willie Young
    7. Alison Evison
    8. Frank Gilfeather
    9. Joanne McFadden
    10. Nathan Morrison

    South Scotland
    1. Iain Gray
    2. Claudia Beamish
    3. Colin Smyth
    4. Carol Mochan
    5. Kenryck Lloyd-Jones
    6. Fiona O’Donnell
    7. Andrew Cochrane
    8. Fiona Dugdale

    West Scotland
    1. Jackie Baillie
    2. Neil Bibby
    3. Mary Fee
    4. Ken MacIntosh
    5. Johanna Baxter
    6. Joe Cullinane
    7. Siobhan McCready
    8. Martin McCluskey
    9. Moira Ramage
    10. Mark McMillan
    11. Gail Casey
    12. Paul Sweeney


  42. With the retirement of Kenneth MacAskill in Edinburgh East who was defending a majority of just 2233 I wonder if Kezia Dugdale could pull of what David McLetchie achieved in 2003 with a surprise defeat of Iain Gray in Edinburgh Pentlands.

    Kezia Dugdale will have a much higher media profile than the new SNP candidate Ashten Regan-Denham.

    My view is that this is perhaps Labour’s best prospect in Edinburgh (better than Edinburgh Northern & Leith or Edinburgh Southern) due to the candidates.

    I think that the SNP will hold Edinburgh East but not by a large margin.

  43. As well as controversially stating she may support Scottish Independence if it meant staying in the EU, Kezia Dugdale has now said that Holyrood is, “the gayest Parliament in the world.”

    I assume she was referring to the Scottish Tory Leader, Scottish Secretary, Scottish Green leader and Scottish UKIP MEP.

  44. Not to mention herself – http://attitude.co.uk/kezia-dugdale-scottish-labour-leader-comes-out/

    Comments on indy very silly in my view. In this election the voters that have gone over to the SNP are as good as lost, it is the unionists who might be tempted by Ruth Davidson’s ‘strong opposition’ pitch she needs to be worried about.

  45. I’ve warmed to Ruth Davidson, having initially disliked her.

    Her performance on Question Time a few weeks ago was excellent.

    Jack is correct, there is surely more mileage in opposing the SNP robustly than in meekly bending towards their agenda.

  46. Certainly for the Tories, that’s clearly the right approach. It’s much harder for Labour given they don’t radically disagree with the SNP on most non-constitutional issues.

  47. New Scottish Parliament poll from TNS, who have usually been most favourable to the SNP and least favourable for the Tories:


    SNP 56 (-4)
    LAB 19 (-2)
    CON 15 (+2)
    LD 6 (+2)


    SNP 47 (-8)
    LAB 21 (-)
    CON 15 (+2)
    GRN 8 (+2)
    LD 6 (+2)

  48. I haven’t followed the campaign very closely, but from what I’ve seen (which is mostly the debates) the Lib Dems, Tories and Greens have been having a good campaign, while Labour have been having a poor but non-disastrous campaign, and those polls are consistent with that.

    The fall in the SNP vote is unexplained by events and may well be a rogue shift, but it is possible that the increased exposure for the minor parties (i.e. everyone else!) is hurting them.

  49. @Bill

    I expect the sharp SNP drop is because the previous TNS poll, with the SNP on 60% of the constituency vote, was rogue. Whilst they are obviously on for another storming result it is hard to envisage them getting as high as 60% (i.e. 10% better than even last year). This poll is more in line with other pollsters.

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