Friday, May 8, 2015

Sheer arithmetical poetry, Mark II : Scotland unites behind the SNP, for a future built to last

Long-term readers of this blog might remember that on the day after the 2011 SNP landslide, I was too bleary-eyed to write a blogpost, so instead I just allowed the "sheer arithmetical poetry" of the raw numbers to speak for themselves.  In the circumstances, I thought it might be an idea to repeat the exercise today.

Result of the 2015 UK general election in Scotland :

SNP 56
Liberal Democrats 1
Labour 1
Conservatives 1

Popular vote :

SNP 50.0%
Labour 24.3%
Conservatives 14.9%
Liberal Democrats 7.5%
UKIP 1.6%
Greens 1.3%

Amidst all the talk of the Labour calamity, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that 14.9% is an all-time low for the Tories as well - their previous record low was 15.6% under William Hague in 2001.

*  *  *

I was slightly horrified when I turned on the computer a few minutes ago to spot that the Tories had somehow got up to 331 seats across the UK.  Officially, that's an overall majority of 12, which is significantly smaller than the 21 that John Major started with in 1992 (and which he eventually lost over the course of the five-year term as a result of by-elections and defections).  But the difference is that Sinn Féin had no seats at all in the 1992-97 parliament, compared to the four they have now - none of whom will take their seats.  So the de facto Tory majority is a healthier 16.  The only scenario that might see a return to a hung parliament over the next couple of years would be a sudden realignment in the party system caused by the EU referendum (ie. if some Tory backbenchers can't stomach Cameron campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU, and march off to UKIP or a completely new party in disgust).

[UPDATE : I can't work out whether the BBC are counting John Bercow as a Tory MP.  If they're not, the de facto Tory majority is actually 18 - almost identical to John Major's.]

All the same, this government is going to be significantly weaker than the coalition government, which started life with a very handsome majority of 76.  We will see a fair number of tight votes, and the whips in all of the three main parties (of which the SNP are now one) will be kept very busy.


  1. Is the 50% a definite, James?
    Someone posted elsewhere that it was 50.3%.

    1. I'm using the BBC figures. Obviously I can't be totally certain, but I'd be surprised if they're not accurate. Of course the two main pro-independence parties have 51.3% between them.

    2. OK, thanks.
      Can't be too greedy today. :-)

    3. 49.97% for the nats - a minority (and that's relying on unionist lefties who would vote no in any future referendum on independence).

    4. 51.3% for the pro-independence parties - a majority. Now do stop randomly spamming old threads, there's a good chap.

  2. Great work throughout the campaign James. It's been a pleasure to read your assessment of all the polls. What an incredible result. And due credit to John Curtice who very accurately predicted the percentages and the final seat results. Being out by only two seats in Scotland, including two very tight races which could have just as easily gone to the SNP, is an outstanding achievement. Hope you're enjoying the day and taking a well-deserved rest. Roll on 2016 and the Holyrood elections!

  3. Thanks James for the all the effort you have put into the blog since the disappointment of the Referendum. It has been much appreciated. Now onto the next major voting event, the Eurovision Song Contest. I fancy Italy will do well.

  4. Thanks for all your work James. Please don't disappear now.

    The de facto Tory majority is actually 15:

    650 MPs
    330 Tory MPs
    ....1 Speaker
    319 non-Tory MPs
    ....4 Sinn Féin
    315 de facto non-Tory MPs
    ..15 de facto Tory majority

    1. No, you're forgetting the Deputy Speakers. Because Bercow was a Tory when he was elected, the Deputies will be 2 Labour, 1 Tory.

    2. Yes I was. I didn't realise they didn't count. Ta.
      *sits corrected*

  5. An outright tory win - a staggering result that basically nullifies any influence the SNP may have in parliament. They are now the feeble 56.

    DUP / UUP / UKIP are essentially tories as well. They are certainly of the right and will act to bolster the conservative government if need be. If that fails, perhaps the libdem rump can be called upon again.

    The important thing here is no gimpy Ed Miliband premiership manipulated by scheming Sturgeon and Salmond. The unionists voted for the UK and the SNP response was to threaten to sabotage it. Not this time, chaps - the people in England and Wales are a lot smarter than half of Scotland, it would seem.

    Better luck next time - although in five years the bubble will have well and truly burst.

    1. If you mean we'll be independent long before then, I must admit I'm becoming increasingly optimistic that you're right. For the reason why, examine your own attitudes.