Friday, April 6, 2018

Magical Mallaig moment as SNP vote increases in Highland by-election

So the STV by-election gods giveth, and the STV by-election gods taketh away.  A couple of weeks ago we were enjoying a technical SNP 'gain' from Labour in Penicuik, even though the SNP's vote had gone down slightly and they had remained in first place in the ward.  Today we're getting the flip-side of the equation: the SNP have technically 'lost' a seat in Caol and Mallaig, even though they have remained in second place in the ward and their vote has gone up appreciably.  On the plus side, because the Liberal Democrats have gained the seat, it's always quite a fun pastime trying to work out which triumphalist Lib Dem supporters are just pretending not to understand how the voting system works, and which ones are genuinely clueless enough to think that this is some sort of terrible setback for the SNP.  For a party that is supposed to regard STV as the holy grail of voting systems, the Lib Dems don't always give the impression of being terribly well versed in it.

Caol and Maillaig by-election result (first preferences):

Liberal Democrats 31.1% (+21.7)
SNP 27.2% (+3.2)
Independent - Wood 21.5% (n/a)
Conservatives 8.7% (+0.5)
Independent - MacKinnon 6.9% (n/a)
Independent - Campbell 4.6% (n/a)

There's probably not a lot of point in trying to make sense of the big increase in the Lib Dem vote - this is a part of the world where the candidate often counts for more than the party label, which is why a lot of people were betting on victory for one of the three independent candidates.  A Lib Dem win is a surprise, but isn't a sign that Rennie-mania is sweeping the nation.  For the same reason we shouldn't get too excited about the fact that there has been a small net swing from Tory to SNP.


  1. Local elections, local factors.

  2. Mein Gott what a bunch of right wing Tartan Tory nat sis and right wing Unionists. Not a hint of a Socialist.

    1. State of this and its pretence at socialism.

  3. Edith Snellgrove-WhitmanApril 6, 2018 at 7:23 PM

    Good that the Tories polled badly despite flooding the seat with their leaflets.

    1. Was that flooding the seat with Tory ladies and sticky buns!

    2. State of this.

  4. Foxglove Nisbett-DuboisApril 6, 2018 at 10:50 PM

    Will Willie Rennie and his Liberal warriors be dancing in the streets of Beasdale tonight?
    They might try.

  5. Very well done to Alex MacInnes! He ran a great campaign, but the Lib Dems seem to have pushed national resources into this. That said Denis Rixson was a fantastic candidate for them: a classic local character, former schoolteacher, bookshop proprietor, local historian and author of several interesting books. Quite simply, a nice guy!

    The contest seems to have been very fairly and vigorously contested, and friendly, as is typical of the area! I fought the Mallaig, Small Isles, Morar, Arisaig, Glenfinnan part of this seat a couple of time for the SNP in the early 90s, and still have wonderful memories of those campaigns. I loved every minute of it. I was beaten by both “Independent Liberal Democrat” Michael Foxley, and by true Independent Charlie King. To my knowledge, both men subsequently voted Yes, so there is hope for Rixson ;)

    I think I got about 19 or 20% on both occasions. Back then the more eastern Caol and Kilmallie areas had a strong Labour vote, but that seems to have evaporated.

  6. It's not really a surprise win at all, it tends to be the same people that vote in each election and rather than voting for political party's they tend to vote for their local candidate, In a normal election Mallaig voters would vote for their local Candidate Allan Henderson(Independent) but given he is a sitting councillor they were able to give their vote to another Mallaig local Denis Rixson. Had the SNP actually put forward a local candidate and not one that lives over a 2 hr drive outside the ward then they could of easily won this especially given that their was not a single decent Independent candidate. Alex MacInnes is a great candidate and done exceptionally well considering but the SNP only have themselves to blame for this.