Friday, March 27, 2015

Rampant SNP storm to by-election victory in symbolic battleground of Glenrothes

Weirdly, there were five council by-elections in the UK on Thursday, and no fewer than four of them were in Scotland.  Of course, we often have a problem making sense of Scottish by-elections due to the quirks of the STV voting system - a party can be "defending" a seat even though they were outpolled there at the last election.  That was exactly the position for Labour in the Glenrothes West and Kinglassie contest, which was the first of the four to declare.  However, even though the SNP won the popular vote in the ward three years ago, they did so by an extremely narrow margin.  That result suddenly seems like a very distant memory...

Glenrothes West and Kinglassie by-election result : 

SNP 55.3% (+12.8)
Labour 35.8% (-5.4)
Conservatives 4.4% (+1.4)
UKIP 3.2% (+3.2)
Liberal Democrats 1.3% (-0.3)

Swing from Labour to SNP = 9.1%

It's important to stress that all the percentage changes listed above, and the swing, are measured from the 2012 local elections, when the SNP were already slightly ahead of Labour nationally.  If we "just for a bit of fun" extrapolate this result, it would give the SNP a national lead over Labour of roughly 20% - very much in line with recent opinion polls.


  1. James, these aren't the percentage change figues being tweeted. Britain votes has

    SNP +26%
    Lab -8.5%
    Con -0.4%
    UKIP +3.2%
    LibDem -1.3%

    Swing from Labour to SNP being generally quoted as 17%. Care to elaborate? Where are you getting your baseline from?

    1. From the 2012 result - identical results are listed on several different websites that I generally trust. The numbers you've seen are probably a miscalculation due to there being multiple candidates for the two main parties last time.

    2. Having said that, Duncan Hothersall is always adamant that it's wrong to tot up the votes for the same party's candidates.

  2. I'll maybe understand it in the morning. Should be in bed now.

    I was mainly boggling at the straight 55.3% figure. That's phenomenal.

    1. To get the baseline figures, I added up the votes from all three SNP candidates last time, and the two Labour candidates last time. I would imagine that some of the figures appearing on social media have left out one or more of those candidates.

      I always end up having to make my own calculation of the swing in local by-elections, because there are usually conflicting claims. It's possible that I've made a mistake, but I don't think so - I double-checked everything as carefully as I could.

  3. This was the actual votes cast:

    Result (turnout 32.59%):—

    Martin Green (Ukip) — 146

    Jane Ann Liston (Lib Dems) — 61

    Alan Seath (Labour) — 1,643

    Craig Walker (SNP) — 2,539

    John Wheatley (Conservative) — 202.

    The low turnout may, or may not, be an issue.

    1. Turnout (32.6%) was only ~5% down compared to the council general election in 2012 (37.8%).

  4. What we may know, toungue in cheek, is that Rangers have 146 supporters in
    Glenrothes West and Kinglassie. Who'd have thought it?

    1. 147 actually if we follow you're logic..and I voted SNP..and have done for years..along with thousands of my fellow RFC followers. .SAOR ALBA

    2. I did say it was toungue in cheek!

  5. Results to follow later today from West Lothian, Moray and Western Isles.

  6. YouGov sub-sample is again a bit crazy: SNP 39, Lab 30, LD 15 (!), Con 10, Others <3.

    SNP score a bit more normal because the number of party identifiers is lower and therefore the down-weighting to 2010 is not as severe.

  7. Haha, YG subs all over the shop.

    Yesterday 15% UKIP, now 15% Libs today.

    Greens tomorrow?

    1. Aye, the right-wing vote has collapsed overnight. Tories down to 10%.

      I predict monster raving loony will peak on Tuesday.


      On a serious note, average SNP(+PC) down-weighting is definitely on the increase once more with our 'odd' polls and is now at the highest level since the referendum at 35% (x0.65). Also the highest I have recorded since collecting that in early 2013.

    2. Obviously, the SNP cannot possibly get over 50% of the vote. Just not possible so down weight them again and again. I think 50 % is achievable and that should be the aim in the GE and SE.

      Contrast this with Malcolm Bruce's speech yesterday where he was advocating gerrymandering the SG electoral system so the SNP can never have a majority again.

      He just does not get it. What if the SNP get over 50%?
      How do they devise some new voting system to down weight them!

      And this in a Parliment where 35% of the vote can give you a large majority!
      And the HOL is completely unelected. The irony is not lost on me.

      How very democratic from the Party that has had PR as a central part of their policy for decades?

      I hope they are wiped out completely from Scotland never to return - just like the National Liberals in the sixties.

  8. A note of caution - Jim Murphy on Question TIme, can see why he's got such a huge vote (For the moment) in East Renfrewshire...

    He's hypnotised them all !

  9. Just out of interest, what were the Scottish Westminster voting intention polls like at the time of the 2012 local elections in Scotland?

    1. We only have one Yougov around that time. Lab 42%, SNP 30%.

      However, UK poll subsets suggest closer, more 36% each.

      Big lack of UKGE data between 2010 and iref in Scotland.

  10. ICM poll Scottish subsample (done ahead of their debate poll):

    41% SNP
    26% Lab
    14% Con
    10% UKIP
    6% Green
    3% Lib

    As AW says on UKPR, the poll was very good for Labour UK-wide, so decent SNP numbers there.

    1. Note the sample was of people who watched the debate, not of the population as a whole.

    2. Which you would have thought would favour Lab and Con, since it was their leaders that were appearing. Perhaps more so Lab as the challenger.

  11. The SNP vote number yesterday was higher than polled in 2012 and it being on a lower turnout. Local elections can be just that, local. Local personalities play well in these contests. However this by-election was crucial as Labour would lose overall control of the council and so did a pile of work to retain it.

    1. I see that Cara Hilton (Labour MSP elected for Dunfermline after Bill Walker resigned) has resigned her council seat. The local by-election there (also in Fife) will happen on same day as the UK general election.

  12. Populus sub-sample: SNP 46, Lab 21, Con 13, LD 13, Others <5.

    No sign of movement there.

  13. Normal populus crossbreak
    46% SNP
    21% Lab
    13% Con
    13% Lib
    5% UKIP
    2% Green

  14. Buckie By-Election counting underway, but looking good for the SNP

    Joe Millican ‏@nscot_jmill 12 mins12 minutes ago

    Might be premature, but word from the by-election count in Buckie is that it is looking good for #snp candidate Sonya Warren

    1. Only tweet from the Council so far is that the turnout was 32%.

    2. "Britian Elects" twitter says that the SNP has won the Buckie election (Moray council). Gain from an independent.

    3. Result:

      SNP - 1485
      IND - 696
      CON - 315

      Swing figures a bit meaningless because only SNP and Con stood last time. It was a different independent. Still, winning ~60% of the vote isn't bad.

  15. The Edinburgh Uni research into the referendum is getting big coverage in the media today (predictably focusing on the "it wisnae the vow" bit).

  16. SNP lost the Western Isles seat to an independent.

    Technically an independent gain from Labour, who didn't stand this time.

    Beinn na Foghla (Western Isles) vote result:
    IND - 437
    SNP - 302

    1. For the very little that it's worth, the SNP vote share was up from 17% to 41%.

  17. SNP Gain - Sonya Warren 1485, IND 696, Tory 315

  18. Re: That vow survey.

    When you look at the 'reasons for switching from Yes to No, specific reasons are listed:

    Promise of more powers 10% •
    Quote: “The promise of devo max which is a transition to home rule"

    Small sample size though.

    The overall conclusions still don't rule out the vow having a big impact.
    Just that fears/doubts/risks were a bigger factor.

    Negative campaigning works it seems.

  19. Kudos to the Glenrothes officials for not losing the marked up register again, like they did last time. Oh, come on, I'm sure it was all just innocent error.

  20. @Onwards

    Not sure I agree with your last sentence. Support for independence was at around 25 per cent when the referendum campaign began in 2012. By September 2014 Yes got 45 per cent.

  21. It's also worth noting that when you ask people whether the "vow" - which has proved to be not worth the paper it was written on - influenced their choice, you are asking people to admit that they were duped, made fools of. Better to avoid that embarrassment and say it didn't influence you. But yes, project fear did its job.

    1. Yes, I'd have been more interested in them putting more focus on those who admitted to being scared because of all the hysteria surrounding what would happen to jobs/pensions etc since a lot of THAT was so much baloney (or, at the least, is subject to forces which WM seems currently unable to do anything much about either).

      Much bigger story than even The Vow in my view. By the time it rolled out, many people were bricking it because of the various scare stories and had made their minds up. The Vow was for last minute waverers, of which it seems there were comparatively few.

      They seem to be trying to re-write it to be all about The Vow and let's never mind how anxious we made vast numbers of people with all our lies. Approaching mental abuse much of it, but never mind because Westminster still rules supreme!

  22. SNP won the Armadale (WL council) by-election. No figures yet. Sounds like it went to later preferences. Bit difficult to compare it with 2012 because first preferences were dominated by an independent candidate (Borrowman).

  23. Armadale figures
    First Count
    Con 6.8%
    Green 2.4%
    SNP 43.4%
    Indep 20.3%
    Lab 27.0%

    Final stage:
    SNP 57.55%
    Lab 42.44%

    1. Thanks Michael.

      Not much closing of the gap with the transfers.