Given that control of the city council was at stake, I was a bit nervous about yesterday's by-election in Edinburgh, especially after I saw that a Green activist on the ground had predicted a Labour gain. In the event, though, it was the Tories that ran the SNP close, after leading outright on first preferences. Here is the full result on the first count -
Conservatives 24.2% (+4)
SNP 23.1% (+2.7)
Labour 19.7% (+0.7)
Greens 14.3% (-3.7)
Independent 11.4% (-)
Liberal Democrats 7.3% (-12.6)
Intriguingly, the redistributed Lib Dem votes then broke much more for the Tories than for the SNP, although perhaps that isn't surprising given that this is the rump Lib Dem support, ie. the voters who are actually content with the Westminster coalition. The Tory lead increased further on the third count, but was then slashed on the fourth after the Green votes were redistributed. The Labour candidate was the last to be eliminated, and unsurprisingly more of her votes transferred to the SNP than to the Tories, leaving the Nationalists triumphant by 104 votes. The Lib Dem/SNP administration on the council should now be secure in office until the elections next spring, barring any more sudden resignations or defections of course!
It goes without saying that this is a calamitous result for the Lib Dems, but that's almost a matter of routine these days. Probably the biggest disappointment will be in the Labour and Green camps, after both had talked up their chances of winning.