Friday, July 31, 2015

Astounding Aberdeen by-elections suggest the SNP's position may have strengthened further since May

There were a couple of local by-elections for Aberdeen City Council yesterday, both caused by sitting SNP councillors becoming MPs.

Kincorth, Nigg & Cove by-election result (30th July) :

SNP 61.0% (+26.9)
Labour 19.1% (-18.8)
Conservatives 9.8% (+4.4)
Liberal Democrats 6.5% (-1.6)
Greens 3.6% (n/a)

Hilton, Woodside & Stockethill by-election result (30th July) :

SNP 55.1% (+19.6)
Labour 25.1% (-19.9)
Conservatives 11.4% (+6.0)
Greens 4.2% (+1.6)
Liberal Democrats 4.1% (+0.2)


As ever, I've done the calculations myself to be on the safe side, because it's amazing how often reports on Twitter of percentage changes and swing turn out to be wildly inaccurate (probably because of the complexities of the STV system).

The swing from Labour to SNP in the two wards averages out at just over 21%, which is a touch lower than the 25% seen at the Thorniewood by-election a few weeks ago - but that's hardly surprising, because 25% was almost off the scale. Remember that swings in local by-elections are measured from the 2012 result, in which the SNP were already 1% ahead of Labour nationally. So a 21% swing is roughly equivalent to a 32% or a 33% swing in the general election, when the SNP were starting from a much lower baseline. The actual swings in Aberdeen in May were considerably smaller than that, so it could be that the SNP are now performing even better - which would certainly be in line with what the opinion polls have been telling us recently.

We also have Scottish subsample figures from a new GB-wide ComRes poll : SNP 54%, Conservatives 19%, Labour 14%, Liberal Democrats 5%, Greens 3%, UKIP 3%, BNP 2%.

At the moment it looks as if any Corbyn bounce for Scottish Labour isn't likely to come along until and unless he is actually elected leader, and even then there are no guarantees.

33 comments:

  1. It would be disappointing if a Corbyn win moved many in Scotland to Labour again. What would they be voting for? The Labour Party would be very divided and voters would be expected to forget what Scottish Labour is like.
    Why do the LibDems even exist now? A further insult to Scotland with Carmichael being made shadow home affairs spokesman.
    Of course it could have been worse if he'd been made foreign affairs spokesman, he might have had to meet the French Ambassador.

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    1. A corbyn win could split the unionist vote. With luck.

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  2. BNP 2% ? Sheesh.

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    1. It's a subsample. The 2% is one person.

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  3. "The actual swings in Aberdeen in May were much lower than that, so it could be that the SNP are now performing even better - which would certainly be in line with what the opinion polls have been telling us recently."

    I've got a more realistic explanation, unfortunately. Having canvassed a lot in Cove and Kincorth during the general election and the by-election, the (brilliant) results we were getting for the by-election were pretty much the same as what we were getting for the general election - it just so happens that this ward was easily our strongest in Aberdeen South, as both Cove and Kincorth have shifted to the SNP in a big, big way.

    In May, these areas were balanced out somewhat by the likes of Lower Deeside, Queen's Cross and the posher parts of Ferryhill.

    Still, it does suggest that the "SNP tsunami" is not over by a long shot.

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  4. Why on earth would there be a Corbyn bounce?

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    1. For the reasons I gave here -

      http://scotgoespop.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/what-would-corbyn-win-mean-for-snp.html

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    2. Perhaps the Labour supporters with a unionist mindset will see Corbyn as their best chance as a "true socialist" taking their party back to its roots .... however, I'm sure they'll find That Reality a bit of a let-down. As for other Labour supporters, I believe their disillusionment with is so profound a road back at this time is not an option. . . . hopefully.

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  5. I think your analysis is (unusually) weak. Sorry because I turn to you most days for interesting and incisive analyses but I think you've fallen victim on this occasion to seeing things from inside a political junkie's bubble. Going by my own experience most voters are looking at Labour and seeing division and acrimony - this is based on canvassing in a n ongoing by-election campaign and the almost total absence of references to the Lab contest amongst facebook friends, even those who normally take an interest in these matters. I'd say Corbyn and his campaign have made almost no impact on disinterested voters, namely those outside Labour and the already convinced non-aligned Left. The notion of a Corbyn 'bounce' in such circumstances is not credible, I suspect the reverse is more likely, a further decline in Lab support based on the view that Labour are in a state of deep internal conflict. The by-election and (admittedly scant) polling data bears that out.

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    1. "I'd say Corbyn and his campaign have made almost no impact on disinterested voters"

      I didn't say he'd made any impact yet. My exact words were : "At the moment it looks as if any Corbyn bounce for Scottish Labour isn't likely to come along until and unless he is actually elected leader, and even then there are no guarantees." If Labour elect Corbyn - it's still a big if but he has a real chance - they will have their most left-wing leader since...I don't even know when, because he's probably more left-wing than Michael Foot. The idea that it's just going to be business as usual after that is a bit difficult to sustain.

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    2. Most left wing leader since Clem Attlee perhaps?

      Although Attlee was pro death penalty and pro nukes. Sometime in the late fifties / early sixties, the labour party departed from a kind of working class male, 'macho' socialism and began a journey to what I can only describe as pussification. Labour's main concern over the last few days? Not Scotland. Not its own internal and very public civil war. Not the events in Calais. No, their main concern is Cameron using the word "swarm" in a discussion about immigrants.

      I don't even bother to curse at the TV anymore.

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  6. I suspect the Corbyn bounce might consist of the fragments of the Labour Party blowing apart if he is actually elected leader.

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    1. Watching the other candidates {and the candidates for Labour-with-a-see-you-Jimmy-hat on} you can almost hear the brain cells imploding, so little do they get anything happening around them.. It's quite hilarious to watch, but still a little sad at the same time.

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  7. What happened to the SNP post the 1979 General Election may happen to Labour following the 2015 General Election.

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  8. Corbyn is the only candidate in the Labour leadership contest who has the potential to at least restore some credibility to Labour in Scotland imo. His politics appear to be very similar to Nicola Sturgeon's, apart from her support for independence that is.

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    1. In some ways they are, although he is clearly to the left of Sturgeon on a number of issues.

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    2. Well, you could be right there James. However, they both are against nuclear weapons, an elected second chamber to replace the House of Lords (at least while we are still part of the British state), the rich to pay a little more, they are both generally against war. He would want to return the NHS in England to a fully public service, which would be the same as Scotland's. I am not really that convinced that Corbyn is really an out and out socialist, he would certainly position Labour on a much stronger social democratic platform. I do not think he is the Trotskyite/Militant figure some in the MSM have tried to paint him as.

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    3. If Corbyn isn't an out-and-out socialist, Labour don't have any socialists left. I can't think of any Labour MP who is more left-wing than Corbyn.

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    4. James, there has been a small group of left wing politicians in the Labour Party over the last 20 years or so. Tony Benn was one, another was and still is John McDonnell. It really depends what you mean by socialists, some are against capitalism, while others are prepared to work under it, to try and mitigate its faults and negative impacts. Jeremy Corbyn is not in the former category imo. He seems to be advocating a mild rolling back of the neo-liberal advance, mainly under Thatcher/Blair/Brown and Cameron. I am not convinced Corbyn is all that radical.

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    5. I don't think the change of direction that Corbyn is proposing could reasonably be described as "mild", so we'll just have to agree to differ. He's not a Marxist-Leninist, I'll give you that, but then neither was Tony Bennm

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    6. Aye, that's true enough...

      "Another one of Benn’s achievements as Energy Minister was the closure of more pits than Thatcher has managed, and all justified with the same monetarist logic that he now denounces the Tories for. Moreover, despite the Left’s attack on the development of nuclear power, the brutality of the cops and the threatened use of the army to put down strikes, when Benn was part of the Cabinet, he armed the Atomic Energy Authority, participated in the government’s brutal use of cops to put down the Notting Hill carnival riots of 1976 and 1977 and never raised a squeak in protest against the use of troops in the firemen’s strike of ’77 – ’78."

      http://dialectical-delinquents.com/war-politics/tony-benn-another-left-wing-capitalist-pig

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  9. I think the factor missing from the Corbyn campaign is credibility as competent government (although I would say that applies to New Labour as much as it does to Corbyn).

    He was a Local Councillor in the past for about a decade. It would be interesting to look back at how effective he was then. I might also help if he were questioned more on his views about the practicability of doing some things, like nationalizing lots of stuff.

    That would be up to the MSM including the BBC, so I'm not holding my breath.

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  10. I just wonder whether the anti-Corbyn coup will come before or after the leadership election, and whether the Labour left will, finally, question their continuing loyalty to what their party has become. Any possibility of a broad anti-austerity alliance including left Labour, SNP, Plaid etc (but clearly NOT including "Scottish" Labour)?

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  11. If Corbyn does win, and that is still far from clear of course, then it will be interesting to see what his policy towards Scotland would be. I have no idea what he would do. However, given that he is obviously attached to Labour's traditional values, I wonder if he would support a move to more significant Home Rule for Scotland? I cannot see Corbyn being as hostile to the SNP as New Labour were and still are, but you never know.

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    1. He was asked about Scotland by the New Statesman, and although his reply was very brief, I found it slightly troubling. He said that he would prefer autonomy "as now" to independence - which sounds like the status quo, or something not much beyond the Smith Commission. However, he did say we had a right to an independence referendum if we want one.

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    2. Cheers, I missed that article. It sounds like Corbyn was being cautious. However, if he becomes leader of the UK Labour Party, and merely backs the Smith Commission, which they are already doing at present anyway, I cannot really see a way back for them in Scotland. They would still be indistinguishable from the Tories on Scotland. It would be a very conservative position to take. Obviously I am not surprised Corbyn is against independence, but I thought he might have been more progressive on Holyrood's powers than Miliband and co were.

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    3. By all accounts he is going to renationalise the railways and energy companies and scrap Trident. I think that in itself might win a few votes!

      Where further devolution is concerned, he will naturally oppose anything that hinders cross border pooling and sharing of resources. The SNP position is that they essentially want independence within the UK. In other words, you can be in the same country as someone but not be able to help them - or receive help from them. Corbyn can easily dismiss this as 'unsocialist' and move the discussion back onto his own political agenda.

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    4. Aldo, if Corbyn won (a big 'if) Blairites, who control the Party's inner workings, will press the self-destruct button, before allowing a left wing policy into 'their' manifesto. It's also a moot point if the millions of English voters will be stirred enough from their apathy to get out and vote. Given the iron grip of the right wing press barons, a Project Fear mark II would be unleashed on the English 'plebs' by their political masters, which would only swell the number of tory MPS and the continued rule by Tories which will probably last another 20 -30 years at least & being taken out of the EU. Scotland's only hope to escape 30 years of Tory rule is for a second Indy Ref.

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  12. There are always some local factors in a by-election, but that is a good solid result by a strong Aberdeen team.

    My main note of caution would be the state of the opposition. Labour in Aberdeen have been so determinedly bad that you would almost think a couple of the councillors are secretly working for the Tories. They have lost a lot of support as a result, because of their own stupidity.

    The Tories have had more incarnations and factions than the people's front of Judaea. Just how many ways can you align four people?

    I'm sure you get the picture, great result but a sorry mess of an opposition.

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  13. A lot of ground to cover between now and next May.

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  14. Much though I despise the Blairite faction in the British Labour party,they do have a point.
    They know what they have to say and do in order to win English votes which is what elects governments to Westminster.
    Unless you are seen to be in the centre of English politics,far to the right of Scottish political gravity,you will not be considered as "competent" to form a government.
    Fun and games but of little relevance to Scotland's future.

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  15. If in the North East of Scotland we tune the shares to:

    SNP 55.0007%
    Labour 13.7000%
    Cons 18.0000%
    Lib Dem 4.5000%
    Green 3.8500%

    and apply them to the list we find in addition to winning all the constituency seats the SNP take TWO from the list.

    Worth noting SNP got 52% in 2011 so not too incredible.

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  16. James, do you think many Scottish (ie UK) Labour Party supporters are now turning to the Tories? I am thinking of the 'orange order', working class rooted unionist who was more comfortable with Labour but may have switched to the Tories due to (a) their fundamentalist 'OO' UKOK, deluded monarchist outlook, (b) Labour's hollowing out in Scotland & (c) the extinction of Liberal Democrat votes, now forcing them into their one remaining strong UKOK union before everything option; the Tories. Interested in your views (or directions where I can read these, if you have covered this possible development already)? Many thanks.

    If you're wondering where Jim Murphy is these days, he was spotted in Brodick, Isle of Arran, yesterday (possibly not to see the Elaine C Smith show tonight)! He passed my 18 yr old in a shop entrance & spotted her (very large) SNP badges all over her jacket & bag. He then changed his mind and walked out! He obviously did not want to be in a very small shop with anyone festooned in SNP badges. What a great photo opportunity that would have been! UK Labour's 'Malcolm Tucker' has clearly warned Jimbo to avoid such eventualities! Poor man. Where is he to go in Scotland to avoid these awful SNP voters...

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