Saturday, October 24, 2015

Could the Lib Dems win even fewer seats next year?

I was asked by The National yesterday for an opinion on how many seats the Liberal Democrats are likely to win at the Holyrood election next year.  I don't think what I said has made it into the paper, so I thought I'd briefly explore the point here, because it's an intriguing one.  The Poll of Polls last weekend had the party on exactly 6% on both ballots - meaning that in comparison to the 2011 result they're up a trivial amount on the list, and down just a couple of points in the constituencies.  So essentially nothing much has changed, and on the face of it they should be on course to at least hold their five current seats.  But the complicating factor is that nobody knows what impact the Alistair Carmichael affair has had on Lib Dem support in their traditional fortress of the Northern Isles, which provides them with a full 40% of their current representation.  It's not impossible that their iron grip on the Shetland and Orkney constituencies could be loosened this time around.

If they did lose either or both of those constituency seats, could they make up for it on the list?  This was the list result in the Highlands & Islands region in 2011 -

SNP 47.5%
Labour 14.5%
Liberal Democrats 12.1%
Conservatives 11.6%
Greens 5.1%

Of the eight constituency seats, the SNP took six, and the Lib Dems took the other two.  The SNP claimed an additional three seats on the list, while Labour and the Tories took two list seats each.  So superficially it might look as if the Lib Dems were safe enough - ie. they would have ended up with two seats in the region anyway, regardless of whether they had won the Northern Isles constituencies.  But of course the snag is that a significant minority of their list votes in the Highlands also came from Shetland and Orkney.  If they take a hit on the constituency ballot in the Northern Isles next year, it's highly likely that they'll take a hit on the list vote there as well - and any sort of slippage at all will render them highly vulnerable to losing one of their two seats in the region.  On the 2011 result, a 2% drop would cost them a seat, but in reality even a smaller drop than that would leave them requiring a lot of luck - they'd be relying on the Tory and Green votes not increasing very much.   Even the SNP could conceivably snatch the seat with an extra few points of support. (I'm excluding the possibility of a Labour increase, because that's probably less likely, but you never know!)

The counter-argument is that the Lib Dems could compensate for a declining list vote in the Northern Isles by growing their support in the rest of the Highlands & Islands region, and doubtless their more optimistic activists would point to a recent local by-election result as evidence that a recovery is underway in that part of the world.  But one swallow doesn't make a summer, and all that.  My own view is that the loss of either Shetland or Orkney would probably leave the Lib Dems with even fewer MSPs across Scotland than they managed to cling onto after their calamitous campaign four years ago.

36 comments:

  1. I suspect the FibDums will lose one seat. Wonder if Danus will be SNP candidate for Holyrood.
    JK - what's your gut feeling on whether Rise will get any seats?

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    1. I don't think they will. I'm struggling to understand what it is about Rise that will have more electoral appeal than the SSP on its own. There'll be more feet on the ground, but will that be enough? They'll also have to establish awareness of their brand from scratch.

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    2. I get Rise stuff sent to me. They're slicker than SSP, more contemporary.

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  2. The Libdems in Scotland are down to their core vote.I can't see it improving without a change in policy and personnel.Individual constituencies will,as always have their own issues and campaigns.Orkney and Shetland? I really wouldn't like to guess.

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  3. The SSP and Solidarity are both badly damaged by the Sheridan trials. RISE on the other hand grew out of the Radical Independence Campaign which was one of last year's success stories.

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  4. Was on the EDI Dunfermline train this morning and thought for a moment I was in Surrey as was next to five middle aged middle class types with that accent. Of course they were Lib Dems on the way to conference! Overheard comments about Carmichael being badly treated as half of WM tell lies and how the SNP are 'riding a tiger'! Seemed so typical of what the Lib Dems now are

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    1. Riding a tiger?

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    2. They aren't on the same planet as the rest of us.

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  5. Remember in 2011 their were two high profile independent candidates standing in both Orkney and Shetland, James Stockan - a highly respected councillor - in Orkney and Billy Fox - anti Viking wind farm campaigner - in Shetland. Both split the anti Lib Dem vote, in fact the SNP came first in the list in Orkney and just a few hundred from topping the Shetland list. So in in the absence of strong independent candidates so far in both constituencies it may be closer than you think.

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  6. On a completely different matter, I was pleased to attend the Plaid Cymru conference in Aberystwyth yesterday and hear a brilliant address by Nicola Sturgeon. Such a contrast to the dismal pessimism we get from Labour Assembly Ministers in Wales.

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    1. Dafydd-I watched that speech too & yes it was uplifting.
      Has Plaid Cymry had an increase in membership recently as their conference was well attended?

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    2. Yes, there has been an increase since the election - I can't put my finger on the figure but it's modest compared with the huge growth in SNP numbers.

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  7. They won't get many votes in Edinburgh where the Libdem/labour/tory/green/deadmargo tram is going to cost 2,000 people their jobs.

    Is the revolting slagheap C Lindsay going to stand as a candidate? Maybe beat her own low of 2.8%. Make me laugh.

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  8. Lose Orkney, retain Shetland would be my guess, and pick up a list seat elsewhere (no change).

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    1. Other way around since but for Orkney vote then Carmichael would have been a goner.

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  9. Will the Lib-Dems show some ambition or even show a survival instinct? Are their supporters just bemused old hippies,are they relevant? probably not,and will they survive in the Northern Isles? I think they will survive and hold what they have,this time but in the longer outlook I think they might shrink to being nothing more than commenter's on "bloggs" and newspaper's letters pages. (tongue in cheek of course a lot of people will give them a "pity" vote)

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  10. Will we see an emergence of another Tactical Voting campaign being orchestrated from south of the border? Well the last one was anarchic so it probably wont make any difference.

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    1. I hope we do.Such moves highlight the panic in the unionist camp

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  11. Tavish is toast, but Liam might survive. Unthinkable that both may go, but anything is possible. Liam is continually in 'The Orcadian' taking credit where he can, so he must be worried.

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  12. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 24, 2015 at 10:08 PM

    The hypocrital tartan tory voters is something to behold. Just vote Tory and be honest.

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    1. Eat your cereal splash.

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    2. Aye, choke down that cereal, troll.

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  13. In 2011 the LD vote held up better in constituencies where the LD's had a defending LD MSP although the vote received was quite poor compared to 2007. There are no mainland LD MSP's seats so the LD's could see a reduction in those seats next year. Where there was a sitting MSP that helped their list vote, they won't have that this time.

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    1. Aye,and a lot has happened since 2011.None of it good for the Libdems.

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 25, 2015 at 11:01 AM

      They are a bunch of Tory collaborators who like the Nat sis have nothing to offer the working classes. Why did the Sottish steekworks not get contracts for the Forth Crossing. EU rules blah blah.

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    4. Hardly a shock to see every single quisling repeat the same lie about the contract for steel to build the new Forth Crossing.

      They are a cult who have no original thoughts and just parrot the words handed to them on tablets of gold by their divine leaders.

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    5. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 25, 2015 at 7:24 PM

      You appear to be the one with a divine leader. Rather than talk about breakfast cereal give us your take on the steel contract(s).

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    6. Choke that cereal down, Tory troll.

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    7. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 25, 2015 at 9:18 PM

      Ok I will choke now what about the steel contracts old fellow.

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    8. Eat your cereal.

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  14. I'm hoping for a wipeout personally. Surely all it'd take is for the Greens to be slightly ahead of them on the list votes and for them to lose Orkney and Shetland.

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    1. Do you mean wiped out across Scotland? That's highly unlikely to happen. They're polling well enough to take the odd list seat here or there, as they did last time.

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 25, 2015 at 9:16 PM

      Orkney and Shetland perhaps Dumfries and Galloway may well succeed from Scotland and stay in the Union. The will of the people!

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    3. Eat your cereal.

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  15. They could.....

    But with Tim Farron going around saying he thinks there should be a £12/hr minimum wage, maybe the Scottish Liberals are going to adopt more left wing policies?

    I'd imagine at the moment there's a good chance there won't be much movement either way for the Liberals.

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