Thursday, November 23, 2017

SNP vote surges in Perth by-election - but it's a tougher night in Rutherglen

It's already clear from gossip on Twitter that Labour have won the Rutherglen by-election.  That's a disappointing result for the SNP, who comfortably won the popular vote in the ward back in May, so clearly there has been a significant swing to Labour.  It's the third time over recent months that the SNP's performance in a west-central Scotland by-election has fallen well short of what the opinion polls would lead us to expect.  The obvious means of explaining that away would be to point to dismally low turnout - although it's not immediately clear why that would favour Labour so much (in contrast to the Tories, whose supporters are well known for flocking to the polls in low turnout contests).

All we know about the Perth South by-election so far comes from Pete Wishart, who says it's a two-horse race, with the SNP as one of the two horses.  My guess would be some sort of Tory victory, but we'll see.

UPDATE: I'll double-check the figures when I get a chance, but this appears to be the result from Rutherglen -

Labour 38.5% (+7.5) 
SNP 27.4% (-12.0)
Liberal Democrats 18.2% (+8.9)
Conservatives 12.1% (-4.2)
Greens 2.9% (-1.1)
UKIP 0.9% (n/a)

If true, there's no way of putting a positive gloss on that - it represents almost a 10% swing to Labour since May, and if extrapolated across the country would point to a clear Labour lead.  That obviously seems highly unlikely based on opinion poll evidence, so perhaps Labour are doing much better in some geographical pockets than in others, or perhaps they were simply better organised than the SNP in a low turnout by-election.  (Only about one-quarter of eligible voters took part.)

The only good thing is that the media, with their customary cluelessness about the quirks of STV by-elections, will report this in one-dimensional fashion as a Labour hold - which technically is what it is, but that doesn't tell the real story of Labour overtaking the SNP in the ward.

UPDATE II: As I suspected, the Tories have won Perth City South.  However, this one is much better news, because the SNP actually 'won' the by-election on first preference votes - an improvement from their second place in the ward in May.  The Tories only took the seat after the lower preferences of eliminated unionist candidates were redistributed.

The full result doesn't appear to be available online yet. Ruth Davidson seems to be suggesting that the Tories took 31% of the first preference vote - which would mean that the SNP must have done at least as well as that, pointing to an increase in the SNP vote of 5% (or more) since May.  A highly creditable result by any standards.

In the case of Perth, the media's cluelessness about STV by-elections will not work in the SNP's favour.  The result will be reported as a "Conservative hold", but the real story is the SNP jumping from second place to first (on first preference votes, that is), the Tories jumping from third place to second, and the Lib Dems slumping from first place to third

UPDATE III: According to Pete Wishart, this is the full result on first preferences -

SNP 32.1% (+6.4)
Conservatives 31.2% (+6.0)
Liberal Democrats 28.8% (-5.9)
Labour 5.7% (-0.7)
Greens 1.8% (-1.3)


Leaving aside the annoying fact that there's going to be a Tory rather than an SNP councillor, this is a cracking result for the SNP - it really is.  It looks like both the SNP and the Tories have been flattered by the drop in Lib Dem support (presumably caused by a popular Lib Dem councillor not being on the ballot paper this time), but even allowing for that, there has been a slight swing from Tory to SNP - which is not really what you'd expect given the greater tendency of Tory supporters to make it to the polls in local by-elections.  It's not a disastrous result for Ruth Davidson, and she'll obviously spin the 'victory' for all she's worth, but privately she must be less than thrilled with yet another second place finish in Perth.

There's also a reality check for Labour here - they may have done extremely well in Rutherglen, but it could be that they're being squeezed in traditional SNP-Tory battlegrounds.

38 comments:

  1. Rutherglen 1st preference votes here: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DPWtjzkXcAAz4Fi.jpg And although I don't know whether the SNP branch membership there is a total overlap on the council ward electorate, this article does suggest that as recently as late 2014 there were 900+ members.http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/rutherglen-snp-branch-report-massive-4396852 True, that was the big membership surge and there has been a general and natural rollback since then. But the simultaneous possibility at least exists that a) even local members may not have turned out in full force and b) the wider SNP-sympathetic vote in the ward may have felt even less inclined to turn out and vote. Who knows the reasons but a combination of complacency and general lack of enthusiasm could be 2 factors. Just supposition on my part.

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    1. Like a lot of places in central Scotland, I suspect the orange order has something to do with this.

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    2. They aren't that big a deal anymore. People quite like Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn and are willing to give them a go. Also, the SNP are a bit tired and seem to want to head down the road of increasing authoritarianism when not talking about indy.

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    3. In a low turnout by election they are.

      How exactly do you know what people are willing to do?

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    4. It just seems that the Orange Lodge is now the catch all excuse for anything that doesn't go well for the SNP. It prevents genuine introspection and improvement.

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    5. Hardly using it as a catch all. It does however go some way in explaining how Tory councillors picked up seats in areas like Dennistoun. Similar to saying that Corbyn is the reason that the vote is falling, is it not?

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    6. Corbyn is more likely to cause ripples in Scottish politics than the Orange Lodge in this day and age.

      A problem SNP supporters have is in acknowledging that their detractors and opponents may actually have a point. So any defeat is dismissed as being the result of Orange bigotry. It's a great solution if you want to demonise your opponents, or it might be, if this were the 1970s instead of 2017.

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    7. You seem to be defending the orange Lodge but are not explaining electoral results that defy logic, such as Tories in Dennistoun? Care to offer your opinion?

      I suspect that Corbyn voters will be bitterly disappointed. He is 68 now and will be 73 by the time of the next realistic election.

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    8. I'm not defending the Orange Lodge - just pointing out they are unlikely to be the root cause of all unionist political success in Scotland.

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    9. That is not what I said. I was referring to areas of central Scotland. That is not a generalisation that applies to all of Scotland.

      I also suspect that the whipping up of the No vote, Brexit, downplaying independence, differential turnout, Corbyn, confusion over devolution and a whole host of other factors, have had an impact.

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    10. For the two last UK polls, Tories and Labour were equal then Tories slightly ahead of Labour.
      Corbyn has nothing to offer after 7yrs of austerity and now Brexit. Of course he has betrayed the huge numbers of young who thought Lab would stop Brexit.
      Voters in Scotland would doom themselves and their children's future fooling themselves with Corbyn.

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  2. The Unionist vote is overwhelming in Ruglen. The Unionists need to concentrate on getting rid of Knickerless and her abysmal record in Govanhill.. She would sell out Scotland to the EU given an opportunity. The Kim Yung Eck dusty brown bin is waiting for her.

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    1. Why are you still here?

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    2. Why are you still here?

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    3. How about you and I arrange a place to meet and we will discuss this?

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    4. Are you a bent shot?

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    5. Nope. Just looking to have a civil conversation with you. Quite happy to perform a psychological assessment as well.

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    6. Name a time and place GWC2?

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    7. It won't as it is Gutless! hence it hides behind that stupid GW2 it is nothing but a idiot who is two Sandwiches short of a Picnic.

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    8. Crimson Star Bar London Road 150 yds from Brigton x. You name the time and date.

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    9. Wilson you are an underwear Klingon.

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    10. That is flute practice night however all blawhards are welcome.

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    11. You give that a pass for this meeting.

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  3. The local Tory councillor who resigned was a pedo so that may explain the swing to SNP. Its not necessarily a regional or national phenomenon.

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    1. Tories voting Nat si, Nat sis voting Tory when it suits them. Yellow or Blue Tories same shite same smell.

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    2. Swivel-eyed omnishambles.

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  4. I'm astonished the LibDems have as many as 18.2 voters in Rutherglen, let alone 18.2% of the vote. Who votes for them anymore? Bizarre.

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    1. People who are pro union, pro Europe, broadly centrist on economic affairs, socially liberal and anti-war.

      The libs are at a low point but they have a very large pool of potential supporters.

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    2. The Liberals and the later LibDems actually have a history of local government councillors in Rutherglen so it is not a surprise to me . Local elections have local factors in play with local personalities or where a candidate lives as issue.

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  5. I live in Rutherglen.

    The Libs were at my door twice - including Robert Brown - and I got at least 6 leaflets from them.

    The Tories turned up once and I got about 3 pieces of literature.

    SNP only produced one GOTV guy last night and 2 leaflets

    Labour were invisible - so the result is totally baffling and I strongly suspect jiggery pokery.

    If not jiggery pokery then the only explanation is that they must have targeted the run down parts of the wards highly effectively as they were nowhere to be seen in the more affluent areas

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    1. That is because the workin class in Ruglen know the Nat sis, Libs and Tories wear the same skiddie underwear. It was easy for Labour.

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    2. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! Boring!!!!!

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  6. Labour were strong on social media with their one of their videos striking around 6500 views. The largest SNP one was about 1000 views. I suspect that they invested heavily in social media advertising reach people on their Facebook accounts. Their candidates Facebook page also had far more likes than the SNP candidates so social media seems to have been key here above traditional campaigning.

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  7. The interesting thing is people will have to live with what they voted for whether they like it or not.
    In couple of years time no amount of tactics will save them from what is coming.
    It was funny to hear a Tory MP complaining about the UK not being able to enter European City of Culture competition. He said plaintively, we are leaving the EU, not Europe.
    Mrs May in Florence, "we were never comfortable in Europe".

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    1. Saying Europe she meant the EU. Councils employ lawyers and those lawyers should have advised the councils. The EU are doing exactly what the hard brexiters want.
      The City of Culture should have absolutely nothing to do with the EU politicians and beaurocrats.

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    2. State of this.

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  8. Noticing a couple of comments about the Orange Order. The overwhelming majority of its members grew up in the relative security of NI being in the EU and those in their caves here also in the EU and protected by the Scottish Government.
    Some seismic shocks coming for them.

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