Friday, October 2, 2015

By-election bonanza for buoyant SNP

While I was unexpectedly marooned on Arran (I think my host at the guest house may even have used the word "incarcerated" at one point), the evidence continued to mount that Jeremy Corbyn has failed to turn things around for Labour in Scotland.  We still don't have a full-scale, post-Corbyn Scottish opinion poll, but seven local by-elections in the space of one day gives us quite a lot to go on, and the results are very much in line with what we saw in the period between the general election in May and the Labour leadership announcement last month.  This new information takes us quite a bit further forward, because unlike the straws in the wind from Scottish subsamples of recent GB-wide polls, the by-elections took place after the Labour conference.  Obviously opinions differ on whether that conference was a dazzling triumph or unmitigated disaster for Corbyn, but it was at least possible that the plentiful TV coverage of his speech on Tuesday might have produced a temporary bounce for Labour.  It appears even that didn't happen.

Glenrothes West and Kinglassie by-election result (1st October) :

SNP 59.0% (+16.5)
Labour 31.9% (-9.3)
Conservatives 6.2% (+3.2)
Greens 3.0% (n/a)

The swing from Labour to SNP in Glenrothes West and Kinglassie was just under 13% - but as always we must remember that the SNP start from a much higher base in local elections than they did in May.  In general election terms, this is the equivalent of a 24% or 25% swing.

Irvine Valley by-election result (1st October) : 

SNP 49.8% (+5.3%)

Conservatives 24.0% (+5.8%)
Labour 23.8% (-6.4%)
Greens 2.4% (n/a)

Nothing quite so dramatic in East Ayrshire - the swing from Labour to SNP was just under 6%, which is the rough equivalent of a 17% or 18% swing in May.  But Irvine Valley is a very different sort of ward, due to the sizeable Tory vote.  This result is strikingly similar to the Ayr East result a couple of weeks ago, in which the the SNP and Tory votes were both up by similar amounts.  However, in this case Labour were actually overtaken by the Tories, who turned around a sizeable deficit of 12% from three years ago to move into second place.

Heldon and Laich by-election result (1st October) :

Independent 41.1% (n/a)
SNP 31.1% (-5.9)
Conservatives 21.8% (+4.5)
Greens 6.0% (-0.6)

This is the only one of the seven by-elections that the SNP didn't actually win, and it's also only the third local council seat they've failed to win since the general election. However, on the previous two occasions it was literally impossible for them to take the seat, because they didn't have a candidate. So this one can be put down as the first real missed opportunity since May. They weren't officially defending the seat, but they did win the popular vote last time, and therefore on the face of it should have been in pole position for a nominal gain. The swing of just over 5% from SNP to Tory is particularly disappointing. However, commenters on this blog with local knowledge of Moray were predicting weeks ago that Heldon and Laich wasn't looking terribly promising, so it may well just be an aberration.

Midstocket and Rosemount by-election result (1st October) :

SNP 40.9% (+1.9)
Conservatives 23.6% (+9.8)
Labour 21.2% (-11.2)
Liberal Democrats 8.3% (+1.9)
Greens 6.0% (-0.4)

George Street and Harbour by-election result (1st October) :

51.2% (+17.5) 
Labour 26.1% (-5.4)
Conservatives 10.4% (+3.7)
Greens 7.2% (-0.1)
Liberal Democrats 5.1% (-4.8)

The above wards are both in Aberdeen, and the average swing in the two of them from Labour to SNP was just over 8%.  That's quite a bit lower than the 21% average swing recorded in the previous Aberdeen double-header back at the end of July.  But Doug Daniel cautioned us at the time that the July wards were ones that had recently swung to the SNP in a big, big way, and weren't typical of the rest of the city.

Stirling East by-election result (1st October) : 

SNP 45.2% (+12.1) 
Labour 37.7% (-7.8) 
Conservatives 11.8% (+4.0) 
Greens 5.2% (+1.0)

Roughly a 10% swing in Stirling, so the equivalent of a 21% or 22% swing in general election terms.

Linlithgow by-election result (1st October) :

SNP 43.1% (+1.4%)
Labour 22.9% (+2.6%)
Conservatives 20.5% (-12.7%)
Greens 5.9% (n/a)
Independent 4.8% (n/a)
Liberal Democrats 2.8% (n/a)

Last but not least, we have Linlithgow, where the Liberal Democrat candidate was none other than my fellow blogger Caron Lindsay.  (For those of you who don't know Caron, she's loved across the political spectrum for sticking doggedly to the following style of blogging : "History proved Nelson Mandela and Willie Rennie right about apartheid.")  Although she finished last out of six candidates, it's hard to interpret her showing because the Lib Dems didn't stand last time.  The real oddity in this result is the complete bucking of the swing from Labour to Tory seen everywhere else (a trend that may conceivably be caused by "moderate" unionist voters reacting against Corbyn's leadership).

The average increase in the SNP vote across the seven wards was just under 7%, which would imply a national vote share of around 39%.  That's misleading, though, because the SNP tend to poll less well in local elections - independents are generally stronger in areas that are traditional SNP heartlands in parliamentary terms.  So realistically these results point to an SNP vote at least in the low 40s, and probably higher if you make allowances for the rather odd result in Moray distorting the average.

The average swing from Labour to SNP in the six wards where both parties stood was 7.7%, which implies a nationwide SNP lead over Labour of just over 16% (but again, it's necessary to factor in the SNP's slight handicap in local elections).

*  *  *

After I arrived in Arran on Thursday, I was surprised to discover that I didn't have to move too far onto higher ground to get completely out of the fog and into bright sunshine.  It suddenly occurred to me that if I walked halfway up Goatfell, I might discover what it's like to look down on a sea that's completely blanketed by mist.  It turns out that it looks like this -

Quite a contrast to return to the sea-front a couple of hours later, where the "view" out to the Firth of Clyde looked like this -

As I came down the mountain, I heard what I assumed to be the foghorn on the ferry getting ever closer, so I was absolutely convinced it would be there waiting for me.  It was a bit of a shock to my system to be told it was in Gourock, wouldn't be getting back for another three hours, and then would be staying the night.  I'm still not quite sure how to explain the foghorn - my theory is that they hid the ferry when they saw me coming.

My best-laid plans to conserve the charge on my phone to get me through Friday didn't work out, so instead I had a "1998 nostalgia day" as I tried to survive without a phone.  Inevitably, when I finally got home I discovered that I'd missed about seventeen important emails and texts.  Ah well, another life lesson learned - never, ever set off on a "day-trip" on a CalMac ferry without packing a phone charger.


  1. Welcome back,James - And your "bigotry on the train" story ??????

    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 2, 2015 at 10:33 PM

      The SNP privatised trains have extensive CCTV. Lets hope it works and can identify those nasty anti Scots!

    2. There was only one anti-Scottish bigot on the train. But his rant was lengthy and profoundly offensive.

    3. Did he come from from Glasgow and say he was from a Working Class background, by any chance?

    4. No, he was English, I'm afraid.

    5. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 2, 2015 at 11:26 PM

      Do not be afraid James just present the scenario that occurred and get this nasty English person before the courts. You surely do not want people thinking you are just making this up to promote nationalism!

    6. It never really occurred to me that anyone wouldn't believe me. As for "the courts", it's certainly the case that if this individual had been talking about Catholics rather than Scots, he would have fallen foul of anti-sectarian legislation. I've no idea what the law says about expressions of anti-Scottish bigotry.

    7. I think you'll find that, John Major privatised the railways.

    8. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 3, 2015 at 7:48 PM

      Would that be Scottish Kaffliks James or Scottish Proddies. You did say you would probably elaborate further in your initial comment and why would you not! After all such alleged behaviour requires clarity. No one is saying you are not to be believed but then evidense is required in such matters. So one has to ask, why did you raise the matter?

    9. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 3, 2015 at 7:56 PM

      It was indeed the Tories that privatised the railways and buses. The SNP must surely be grateful for this as they got pocket money from a subsequent private

    10. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 3, 2015 at 9:42 PM

      David Francis your above comments are like a fool who is handed a shovel and told to dig his own grave and proceeds to do so.

    11. "evidense is required in such matters"

      Is that the American spelling of 'evidense'?

      "So one has to ask, why did you raise the matter?"

      Because I was profoundly shocked.

    12. GWC - you passed that point a long time ago.

      You are now, no more than the Site Idiot.

    13. Aye he is a total bawbag.his trolling is so obvious it's a joke and now he has become a figure of fun instead of an annoying prick. Ha ha result

    14. GWC is funny for all the wrong reasons. You can't have a reasoned debate with someone who yells about Nazis at every opportunity.

    15. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 4, 2015 at 9:33 PM

      James, it is incumbent on you to describe the traumatic anti Scottish scenario you had to endure on the train! No more avoidance lets hear it.

    16. "James, it is incumbent on you to describe..."

      Explain why.

    17. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 5, 2015 at 8:04 PM

      You said you were likely to do so.

  2. It appears that Scots may have eventually wised up to the true nature of the British Labour Party.
    Let's hope so.

  3. As a random thought for Moray, Exercise Joint Warrior 2015 - 2 (JP152) is on now, and Lossie saw some interesting kit coming in from Canada, the US, Germany. Three P8s and a C295 - maritime patrol aircraft as well as other stuff. There was also a Sikorsky I saw on flightradar24, looking like it was doing some weird stuff. Who knows what effect that could have?

    Just a thought.

    1. No effect yesindyref2. But I'll guess the result is because of 1. the large number of RAF personal in the Heldon & Laich constituency. 2. the large number of retired folk living here who have come up from England. 3. the "independent" winner being an local ex-fisherman with strong ties with local retired folk [two of my close elderly relatives voted for him for example: one went to school with him, the other is also an ex-fisherman].
      H & L is really a strange constituency and should not be seen as indicative of Moray as a whole.
      BTW today's Moray edition of the British nationalist press & journal is a real stomach-churner. P & J showing its true puke-like colours.

    2. My mither kent his fether Dan but still she didnae vote for him. He soaked up most of the Tory preference votes as well despite stating in his election lit he wasn't a closet Tory.

      He will no doubt become part of that awful ruling Brit Nat coalition on the council though. Talk about folk sticking their heids in the sand, well this is a classic example of the ostrich act.

  4. Re Linlithgow, the movement away from the Tories in this one can't be taken at face value as their current councillor gets a huge personal vote. I would venture that the 'real' movement in Linlithgow is pretty much the same as everywhere else; i.e. swing to SNP from Lab, swing to Con from Lab and the apparent swing between SNP and Con a function of both.

    In the case of Linlithgow, which was strongly No last year, I would not expect there to be as large a movement from Lab to SNP as in other places though.

  5. What a shame for Karen Lindsay.

    A) No sympathy for anybody who can't even spell their own name correctly.

    B) She's the Lying Libdem version of McTurnip. Only without the wit charm, good looks and personality.

  6. The fog was caused by a layer of heavy cold air stuck under warmer air. Sound waves bounce along this layer for miles just like light in a fiber-optic cable. On properly spooky days you can hear people talking as if they are right next to you when they are just a wee speck on the horizon.

  7. James, the "foghorn" you heard approaching was not the sound of a ferry, or any craft wrought by the hand of Man, but the lonesome call of the Gourock Sea Serpent:

    In 1942, a strange carcass was washed ashore: dismissed as a basking shark a whale, its true nature was never confirmed when it was hurriedly buried under what is now the school pitch of St. Ninian's Primary School. It is said that on misty days and nights, you can hear the plaintive cry of the monster, still searching for its lost companion...

    1. Thanks for that.I'll be having nightmares now.

    2. Partly decomposed large sea creatures can confound all but the most experienced anatomist/zoologist. As a scientist with a passing knowledge of anatomy I could have a stab but would likely call in someone better versed to be sure.

      Basking sharks having a cartilaginous skeleton can decompose in interesting ways especially since they have special rakers on the inside of their gills to filter out the plankton and if the jaw has gone and the gill arches have become separated they can look like tentacles around a mouth.

      Quite possibly a model for Cthulu.

      'Twas ever thus though. The Vampire myth comes from a misunderstanding of normal processes from decomposition of humans. BTW hair and toenails do not grow on corpses, the skin shrinks to make them look longer.

  8. Always wondered why Caron Lindsay spelt her name that way. Something to do with the river local river perhaps?

    2.8% - just brilliant and she is one of the Lib-Dem rising stars. The Lib-Dems truely are finished in Scotland.

    We just need Carmicheal to be booted out to complete the rout. Fingers crossed!

    1. I don't think Caron would describe herself as a rising star - she's been around for quite a while. She's more in the "party stalwart" category.

  9. That Glasgow Working Class eejit caused the Fog with all the hot air that comes from it. Time this person got a job or a hobby or maybe sent back to the mentally ill ward. Something not quite right with this person.

  10. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 7, 2015 at 1:21 AM

    My hobby is exposing the men tally disturbed Scottish Nat sis who think they are owed something from their hard working English neighbours.

    1. Spelling 'mentally' as two words makes you look completely mental.

      Not sure if you are aware how creepy and disturbed you are coming across here or if you even have the capacity to realise it.

      Let me put it this way - your erratic spacing brings to mind a serial killer cutting individual letters out of newspapers and sending them to a victims family.

      In short, it makes you look like a complete nutter with a furtive, dubious and sinister hobby.