Friday, October 26, 2018

SNP vote holds up in agonisingly close Coatbridge South by-election

So unfortunately it turns out that I was correct earlier tonight in suggesting that Labour's chances in the Coatbridge South by-election were being underestimated - they ended up pipping the SNP by just 0.4% of the vote on first preferences, which made it all but inevitable they'd win on a later count due to the greater propensity of Tory voters to transfer to Labour.

Coatbridge South by-election result:

Labour 41.5% (+12.0)
SNP 41.1% (-1.6)
Conservatives 15.1% (+3.2)
Greens 1.4% (n/a)
UKIP 0.4% (n/a)
Liberal Democrats 0.4% (n/a)

[UPDATE, Friday, 5pm: I've had to correct the above figures, because the original version of the result that appeared on Twitter last night turned out to be slightly inaccurate.  It's amazing how often that happens.]

Technically this was a Labour hold rather than a gain, meaning that they won't have any more councillors in North Lanarkshire than they previously did.  Nevertheless, on paper it appeared that the SNP should have won tonight, because they topped the popular vote in the ward quite comfortably in May 2017.  This follows the same pattern as a few other by-elections in former Labour heartlands since the general election in which Labour have done significantly better than the national opinion polls would have led us to expect.  So what is going on?  Is there a localised Labour renaissance that the opinion polls aren't picking up?  In this particular case there may be a more prosaic explanation.  Although there was a technical swing from SNP to Labour, the SNP's own vote barely dropped at all.  On the face of it, the big increase in Labour's vote may have come almost entirely from people who voted for independents in May 2017.  And it just so happens that the independents were disgruntled former Labour councillors.  Perhaps, then, the SNP victory in the ward eighteen months ago was a bit illusory, and the 'real' Labour vote was always significantly higher than the 2017 result suggested.

Of course it may well be a bit more complex than that, but I'd be surprised if that isn't at least part of the explanation.  So let's not over-react to what is admittedly a very frustrating result.

16 comments:

  1. I think part of the reason is the SNP do seem to really suffer in very low turnout elections. The reassuring thing though is in council by elections there's been very little sign of the SNP-Labour swing they would need to win the Central Belt.

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    1. It's not a good sign if the SNP's voters are less motivated even than Labour's.

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  2. the biggest problem for the SNP in North Lanarkshire is that they have no real democracy, the branch or branches have no say, that and the two conflicting sides of long running battle for power, between the supporters of Mr Stubs and those of Phil Boswell. Until a new leader emerges or those who care about the constituents and not about building a dynasty or cabals they will never win. The SNP had every councilor, SMP, and even members of their National executive out in support and yet they failed. this is the second time they have tried to campaign on the same ticket as the Labour party and it has not worked.

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  3. There is a simpler explanation - in 2017 two independent candidates stood under the label of Independent Alliance North Lanarkshire- Jim Brooks and John Higgins, longstanding Labour councillors recently deselected by Labour. They got 11.5% of the first preference votes. In their absence, it looks as if their supporters overwhelmingly returned to the Labour fold.

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    1. Ahem. That's exactly what the blogpost says!

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  4. The 25% turnout is a real indictment on local democracy and its perceived value.

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  5. Quite a low turnout and not a bad result. Also local elections can be just that - local. Having such a low turnout gives added weight to the postal voters. Postal voters will have a higher turnout rate than those that go out to vote. It could be one party does well on the postal votes but in low turnout elections another party might do well on voters turning up to vote but not enough to counter the postal votes.

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    1. You're right. The local factors are important and on such a low turnout with only 12 votes in the difference on the 1st count, who knows what the result really means.

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  6. What was the turnout yesterday and then in 2017?

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  7. Well, as expected, that's the UK's initial WTO membership application rejected.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/britain-faces-talks-with-20-nations-after-trade-protest-ml8dt92pf

    Going by brexit negotiations, we're potentially looking at years before we get agreement there, particularly over the e.g. 'Falklands backstop'. I say we tell the WTO to just 'go whistle' and walk away.

    Personally, I couldn't understand why brexiters wanted to be part of the WTO. I mean why leave one overbearing trade block just to join another? That's not independence. Why would be want the Argies and 163 other countries making our laws?

    Every nation that some sort of historical gripe with England (which is much of the world), and even those just happy to kick a country when it's helpless, will be rounding on the UK in its weak and divided state going forward.

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    For the by-election. SNP honeymoon still going then 11 years on. To hold your vote comfortably in a by-election well into your second term in office suggests any modest changes in shares are merely local factor / turnout related.

    We also know that SNP% doesn't = indy support, so we should never try to read these into each other. Indy support remains higher than 2014 'tomorrow', with the public pretty much ready to vote Yes if brexit goes ahead, yet SNP notably down in VI polls, at least for Westminster. The general public does consider the purpose of each vote independently. By elections are nothing to do with indy or even central government to most punters. It's only 'hardcore' voters that always vote on party lines.

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    1. Ach soo the Jocko Nat si strategy is to wait for Brexit then attempt to have another referendum. And if won then apply to join the EU and hand Scotland over to the EU. The gravy train extends.

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    2. GWC AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois of the 77th (Manky Shirt, Self Funded) Auxiliaries and its crush on Yaxley-Lennon

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  8. We have a HCouncil by-election on 6th December. Should we advise people to "vote til they boak" or just vote for the SNP candidate?

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  9. What weight would you give, James, to the accusation that SNP parachuted an outsider in as candidate ignoring local SNP preferences?

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    Replies
    1. Junker Nat Si SloshOctober 28, 2018 at 8:28 AM

      23 stone 9 pounds. A lot lighter than obese jocks on Jezza Kyle. Ee I like your tattoos Mrs McHamish

      Delete
    2. Junker Nat Si Slosh AKA GWC AKA The Hon. Cordelia Bracely-Dubois of the 77th (Manky Shirt, Self Funded) Auxiliaries and its bizarre crush on Yaxley-Lennon

      Delete