We now have the remaining three results in from yesterday. First up is Buckie, a Moray council ward in which the SNP did pretty well in 2012. However, this is nominally an SNP gain from an independent.
Buckie by-election result :
SNP 59.5% (+14.4)
Independent-Calder 27.9% (+27.9)
Conservatives 12.6% (+5.5)
Swing from Conservatives to SNP = 4.5%
The absence of a Labour candidate means that this tells us very little about the national SNP/Labour battle, and even the rise in both the SNP and Tory votes can perhaps be partly explained by the fact that the field was slightly more crowded last time around, with two independents standing rather than one. However, the SNP vote has increased by almost three times as much as the Tory vote, which is what you would expect to happen in the light of the national SNP surge.
* * *
The by-election in the Western Isles tells us even less about the national picture, because the SNP were the only one of the political parties to put up a candidate. Labour's absence is particularly odd, given that it had previously been their seat. Technically, then, this is an independent gain from Labour. Even more peculiar is the fact that the winning independent candidate seems to have stood for the SNP in 2012 (unless it's an astonishing coincidence and it's two different people with the same name), so the SNP's percentage gain is actually measured from Mr Walker's own performance last time!
Beinn na Foghla agus Uibhist a Tuath by-election result :
Independent-Walker 59.1% (+59.1%)
SNP 40.9% (+24.5%)
Although the SNP hold a respectable number of seats on Western Isles Council, it's still heavily dominated by the independents. So this result can be looked at in one of two ways - it's either an impressive SNP surge in a heartland of the independents, or it's a disappointing failure to gain a seat at a moment of maximum opportunity. Either way, I don't think the SNP's Angus MacNeil need have any fears in the parliamentary constituency in May, especially given that the Yes vote in the Western Isles was higher than the national average.
* * *
The most useful of the three results we've had today is in West Lothian, because both Labour and the SNP put up candidates. Technically this is an SNP hold, although the popular vote in the ward was actually won by an independent last time around.
Armadale and Blackridge by-election result :
SNP 43.4% (+20.4)
Labour 27.0% (+9.4)
Independent-Mackay 20.3% (+20.3)
Conservatives 6.8% (+4.0)
Greens 2.4% (+2.4)
Swing from Labour to SNP = 5.5%
So a smaller underlying swing than in Glenrothes, but if you extrapolate to the national picture it would still be enough to put the SNP 12% ahead of Labour. In truth, the 5.5% figure isn't particularly meaningful, because the 2012 result in Armadale was heavily dominated by the victorious independent candidate, and we don't know whether he was attracting his votes disproportionately from Labour or from SNP supporters.
However, what we can do is average out the swings from yesterday in the two wards in which the SNP and Labour were up against each other, and that produces a figure of 7.3%. Nationally, that would put the SNP roughly 15% or 16% ahead of Labour, very much in line with the recent ICM poll. In reality it's probably better than that, because the SNP's national vote in local elections tends to be a touch lower relative to Labour's due to the success of independents in rural areas.
Incidentally, the average increase in the SNP's own vote in all four by-elections is an astonishing 18% - and remember that's measured from the 2012 baseline, when they were on 32.3% nationwide.
The Glenrothes West and Kinglassie result, which was declared overnight, can be found HERE.