So here's a paradox within a paradox within a paradox. On Scottish local elections night two years ago, the SNP failed to win an overall majority in any council, and yet they've somehow pulled that feat off tonight on English local elections night. Winning a single by-election was enough for them regain outright control of Dundee City Council after two years of running a minority administration. The SNP gained the crucial seat from Labour, and yet it was a poor result for the SNP. Confused? Well, it's our old friend, the STV voting system, making everything a bit complicated again. The vacancy was caused by the death of a Labour councillor, but the popular vote in the ward was dominated by the SNP last time around. They haven't done as well tonight, and Labour have made a significant comeback.
Dundee North-East by-election result (2nd May 2019):
SNP 46.9% (-6.9)
Labour 38.1% (+11.1)
Conservatives 8.4% (-0.7)
Anti-Cuts 2.8% (+1.5)
Greens 2.4% (+0.8)
Citizens First 1.4% (n/a)
It's difficult to make much sense of the direction of travel there - it's completely out of line with other recent Scottish local by-elections, with recent Scottish opinion polls, and even with the English local elections, in which so far Labour seem to be taking a pounding. Probably those on the ground in Dundee would know the explanation - perhaps the Labour candidate is particularly well known, or perhaps there was some local factor that was suppressing the SNP vote.
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It seems to me that the obvious point a lot of commentators are missing about the English results is that, at least to a large extent, the Brexit vote had nowhere to go. Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party didn't stand, and UKIP only stood in a small minority of wards. So if the Tories do end up with a surprise lead in the projected national vote, as now looks possible, there'll be no great mystery about the divergence from opinion polls showing a Labour lead - it'll have happened because some disgruntled pro-Brexit voters reluctantly stuck with the Tories yesterday in the absence of a clear alternative. They won't have the same problem later this month in the Euro elections.