It was such a dandy idea, the burd is wishing she’d thought of it herself. Over at Better Nation, Jeff and Malc are visiting each of the electoral regions in turn, offering their views on how recent poll findings will translate into seats in the 2011 election (#sp11 for the unitiated is the Twitter hashtag for the elections).
And it’s very interesting. So interesting I, after consultation, thought I’d add my views. Jeff is an exact scientist – he’s even got a predictor thingy set up. The burd prefers to play a little fast and loose with the science. Politics is, after all, an art form and will always throw up surprises. So, in response, I’ve taken the most recent poll findings – which updates it all a little – from ICM, put the data into ScotlandVotes predictor, looked at what it says, and then made my own mind up. It’s a burdz prerogative. In doing so, I have applied the knowledge gleaned from a lifetime’s unhealthy interest in elections and all things political.
Let’s get the easy ones out of the way – the ones where I agree with Jeff.
Orkney and Shetland will both be Lib Dem holds. Inverness and Nairn, and Moray will both be SNP holds. Four down, four to go.
The seats of Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch and Caithness, Sutherland and Ross have been held since 1999 (in their previous incarnation) by the Liberal Democrats but both incumbents are retiring. Additionally, the equivalent Westminster seats have been occupied for a long time by Lib Dems. ScotlandVotes suggests the Lib Dems will hold on to both; Better Nation reckons that both will fall to the SNP, which has the benefit of existing list MSPs standing as candidates.
For once, guilty of sitting on the fence, the burd is splitting the difference. Caithness will fall to the SNP – the majority is smaller, the SNP MSP has been the candidate before, and the party has a number of councillors doing good work in this part of the Highlands. But Skye will stay Lib Dem. Don’t ask me why but instinct suggests that the Lib Dems will hold most of their rural seats and take the kicking the polls are predicting in urban constituencies.
Argyll and Bute fell to the SNP at the last election and despite a change in candidate, I reckon Mike Russell will hold the seat for the SNP. No controversy there then.
Both Better Nation and ScotlandVotes are applying the science strictly and stating that Labour will retake Na h-Eileanan an Iar from the SNP. But the polls said last time round in 2007 that Labour would hold on to this seat, albeit by the skin of its teeth. These are the kind of constituencies that national polls find it difficult to cater for. Lots of local circumstances, a certain independence of mind and the candidates still counting for a lot, if not more than the parties. The burd believes the SNP and Alasdair Allan will hold this seat, but his majority might be squeezed. I’d go so far as to predict a recount before the seat is settled.
So, on the constituencies, it will be SNP 5, Lib Dems 3, which would be remarkable really. And this could impact on who takes the regional seats.
In 2007, the SNP and Lib Dems shared the constituency spoils equally with four seats apiece. The regional vote produced three Labour MSPs, two SNP and two Conservatives.
This time round, the burd predicts that Labour will keep three, the Tories two but the SNP will lose one seat. It could go to the Lib Dems but I doubt it, and if Labour are having a very good night, they could just squeeze a fourth MSP out of this region, but it could also go to the Scottish Greens. Maximising its ability to take list seats in regions like this are crucial to Labour’s hopes of forming the next Scottish Government. But if the Scottish Greens take a six per cent share of the vote, as other polls have indicated they might (ICM puts them at four per cent), then that might just give them enough votes to take the last seat and return Eleanor Scott to Holyrood. Which do I reckon will happen? Labour will take a surprise fourth seat here.
If your head is reeling from all these numbers, here’s the round up:
Orkney – Lib Dem hold; Shetland – Lib Dem hold; Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch – Lib Dem hold; Moray – SNP hold; Inverness and Nairn – SNP hold; Na h-Eileanan an Iar – SNP hold; Argyll and Bute – SNP hold; Caithness, Sutherland and Ross – SNP GAIN
Seven seats in the region – 1 Lib Dem, 1 SNP, 2 Conservatives and 4 Labour.
The totals: Better Nation’s analysis suggests the SNP will take six seats – the burd agrees; the Lib Dems will take three seats – the burd agrees; we also agree that the Tories will keep two seats; Better Nation says four for Labour and I agree again. So far, so dull but it is in how these totals will be arrived at, that we differ. And sorry, but no seat for the Scottish Greens from me, but one from Better Nation.
Aren’t we going to have fun seeing who’s right and who’s wrong? In fact, we should set up some kind of side wager on it….