Friday, September 7, 2018

Horror show for Labour in Fife by-election

Tonight we have the result of the first local government by-election in Scotland for several months...

Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay by-election result (first preferences):

Conservatives 37.3% (+0.7)
SNP 28.1% (-2.7)
Labour 12.0% (-4.8)
Liberal Democrats 9.1% (+4.1)
Independent - Collins 8.4% (n/a)
Greens 4.2% (+0.7)
Independent - Macintyre 0.6% (n/a)
Scottish Libertarian 0.2% (n/a)

I know the SNP were talking up their chances of outright victory, but for my money this is a very creditable result in difficult circumstances. In spite of the endless stream of negative headlines about Alex Salmond over the last couple of weeks, the SNP are only down a smidgeon on an election last year in which they won the national popular vote by a relatively comfortable margin. And although the Tories usually have an inbuilt advantage in local by-elections due to the greater motivation of their supporters to make it to the polling stations, the modest swing from the SNP they achieved would not be enough to overhaul the SNP's national lead if extrapolated to the whole country.

Technically this has to be reported as a "Tory gain from Labour", but that's just one of those wildly misleading quirks of the STV voting system. The Tories won the popular vote in the ward last year, and Labour were a distant third, so the chances of Labour 'holding' the seat were always remote (although arguably not totally non-existent, because Labour did finish a strong second in the ward back in 2012). Nevertheless, Richard Leonard ought to be horrified to see Labour's vote slip back more than the SNP's. We all know that any real threat to the SNP's predominance in Scottish politics would have to come from Labour, because there is a natural ceiling on Tory support. So the fact that the SNP have somehow improved their position relative to Labour in this ward is extremely heartening in the current climate. OK, Labour would probably argue that this was a classic third-party squeeze, with Labour voters lending their support to either the SNP or the Tories depending on whether they happen to be unionist diehards or not. But if it's quite as simple as that, why did the Lib Dems and the Greens both increase their vote share in fourth and sixth place respectively?  Is Labour's lack of clarity on Brexit costing them?

*  *  *


  1. Well I suppose the there is a positive to be found here. Labour have slipped a little further back. But on first glance the result is depressing. The Tory vote is staying strong and maybe even strengthening. It's getting to be a cliche but almost total government control of the media will have to be broken before there is any hope of shaking this Tory support.

  2. Unionists seem to be using the postal vote to their great advantage.

  3. Worth noting that Yougov for 'People's vote' who did a 2k Scottish sample (ending 14th August) on the EU (Remain uon the up) also seem to have asked Westminster and Holyrood VI as it's in the table cross-tabs. I don't believe this was released though.

    Assuming consistent turnout for all voters, would look something like this (changes on June):

    Holyrood Constituency
    43(+2)% SNP
    27(-)% Con
    21(-1)% Lab
    7(+1)% Lib

    SNP lead = 16 points

    41(+1)% SNP
    25(+2)% Lab
    25(-2)% Con
    8(+1)% Lib

    SNP lead = 16 points

    So fits with the general theme of the SNP being up on 2017 for Westminster and doing better than 2011-16 with respect to mid term polling for Holyrood (they've never dropped as low as they did in polling back then). A double digit lead like this 11 years into government is truly remarkable.

  4. Not sure I see as much positivity as you do James. The Tories vote held up well in spite of the current madness they are inflicting on the country. True its a blue seat historically but you can charge the Tories with a dark set of weather as much as you can the SNP.

  5. Well you are saying its OK for SNP despite having drag of Salmond.

    However given piss poor performance of current Tory government in power they have as many headwinds as SNP have. Despite this they did well comparatively.

    Labour languishing as they are doing nothing.

    1. There is absolutely nothing in the blogpost that was intended to imply that this isn't a moderately good result for the Tories. But the emphasis is on 'moderately'. If the Alex Salmond story had been really biting, the Tories would have achieved a big enough swing to knock out the SNP's lead if extrapolated nationally. They didn't.

      As I also pointed out, it's only really Labour that can threaten the SNP's predomoninance. So the fact that Labour isn't the unionist party that is prospering is in itself a positive sign.

    2. Kezia Davidson-RennieSeptember 8, 2018 at 1:40 AM

      Salmond in drag? Eh? Sober up JK Plagiarist

    3. Kezia Davidson-Rennie AKA GWC2 AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois

  6. Shows you how 'un-tory' Scotland is. In a 'Tory area' they only get 37%. They can get double that in a 'Tory area' in England.

    Just scroll through Britian elects and you get e.g.

    Aug 3
    Snettisham (King's Lynn & West Norfolk) result:
    CON: 77.4% (+6.7)
    LDEM: 8.3% (+8.3)
    GRN: 8.2% (+8.2)
    UKIP: 6.1% (+6.1)

    Now that's a Tory area. By contrast, the Tories got rejected by 63% in Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay, and that's likely with them turning out more.

    1. Jock nat si liar barstard. God save the Queeb. Rule Britainia you treacherus barstard.

    2. GWC2 AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois

    3. Aye, Labour in England brag about their membership down south, but cuidnae even put up a candidate!
      Two different countries right enough. Break the chains ASAP.

    4. Either write in English or in Scots. Dropping in a quaintly misspelled words here and their is a tad patronising. Like Harry Lauder or Brigadoon.

  7. Seems the two Tory parties are on a roll and the working class fucked as usual.

    1. GWC2 AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois

  8. I'd say Labour did amazingly well. 1 person in 8 voted for them despite the existence of their Branch leader, Jackie Baillie, Neil Findlay, James Kelly representing the party's greatest thinkers.

  9. The one thing I take from this is that the unionist vote Speers to be consolidating around the Tory's irrespective of their ideologies. This does give the impression of an increase/strengthen of the Tory vote. This could potentially mean that others are voting on ideology grounds and may make them a softer target to move to yes.