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) :
SNP 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.