Weirdly, there were five council by-elections in the UK on Thursday, and no fewer than four of them were in Scotland. Of course, we often have a problem making sense of Scottish by-elections due to the quirks of the STV voting system - a party can be "defending" a seat even though they were outpolled there at the last election. That was exactly the position for Labour in the Glenrothes West and Kinglassie contest, which was the first of the four to declare. However, even though the SNP won the popular vote in the ward three years ago, they did so by an extremely narrow margin. That result suddenly seems like a very distant memory...
Glenrothes West and Kinglassie by-election result :
SNP 55.3% (+12.8)
Labour 35.8% (-5.4)
Conservatives 4.4% (+1.4)
UKIP 3.2% (+3.2)
Liberal Democrats 1.3% (-0.3)
Swing from Labour to SNP = 9.1%
It's important to stress that all the percentage changes listed above, and the swing, are measured from the 2012 local elections, when the SNP were already slightly ahead of Labour nationally. If we "just for a bit of fun" extrapolate this result, it would give the SNP a national lead over Labour of roughly 20% - very much in line with recent opinion polls.