#sp11 Regions revisited – North East Scotland

Less tortuous this time – you know Better Nation applies the science, though Malc is more sceptical of pure psephology – good man!  The burd applies a convoluted mix of a little bit of everything and we see if there’s any difference in the translating of poll findings into seats.  One more thing:  we are using different polls, owing to the fact that I came late to the party.  Mine is based on the recent ICM poll and I don’t have my own fancy predictor, I’m using ScotlandVotes.

The interesting thing to note about this region is that it gains a seat.  Angus is being split into two and the area will now elect 15 MSPs.

Anyhoo, Better Nation suggested that the SNP would take seven constituency seats, the Lib Dems two and Labour one.  My predictions differ (which is a good job really or else there would be no point to this game).

The SNP will hold Aberdeenshire East (Alex Salmond), Aberdeen Donside (Brian Adam), Banffshire and Buchan Coast (Stewart Stevenson) and Dundee East (Shona Robison).  It will take the two new Angus seats (Nigel Don and Graeme Dey) but this kind of amounts to a hold, as Angus has been returning SNP MPs and MSPs since the 80s. 

Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, currently a Lib Dem seat, will fall to the SNP’s Maureen Watt, despite the notional majority.  These are the kind of seats that the Lib Dems are going to struggle to hold;  the fact that the incumbent Nicol Stephen is standing down, and Maureen Watt is standing again, having got within a hair’s breadth in 2007, means the odds are stacked in the SNP’s favour.

But the SNP will lose Dundee West.  And it pains me to say this, for Joe FitzPatrick is a very fine MSP and doesn’t deserve to lose his seat.  But it’s a hunch.  Despite having a superlative local organisation, the SNP needed three attempts to take this constituency.  They are now running the council and like everyone else, cuts are having to be made.  The Labour challenger is also relatively well known and frankly, these are seats they must retake to be in with a shout of governing. 

Which leaves two constituencies:  Aberdeen Central which Labour will hold, possibly even with a bigger majority for Lewis MacDonald due to the unpopularity of the Lib Dem-SNP run council and the swing towards Labour likely to happen.  And Aberdeenshire West which Mike Rumbles will retain for the Lib Dems.

The total?  1 Lib Dem, 2 Labour, 7 SNP.

Who will take the seven list seats up for grabs?  Better Nation reckons 3 will fall to Labour, 3 to the Conservatives and 1 to the SNP.   But the polls all indicate that the Tories are flatlining at best, and in 2007 they only took 2 seats.  I really can’t see them improving on that, to be honest.

Moreover, even though the Liberal Democrats are in meltdown, they do still have a significant support, particularly in rural Aberdeenshire.  The loss of a constituency seat will translate into a regional gain. 

Labour will take three seats.  They are working a list strategy, for the first time ever, and are buoyant in the polls.  They have a considerable latent vote in Dundee as well as in Angus and in Aberdeen.  In 2007, they took two seats and will improve on this. 

Which leaves the final seat.  The SNP has been very good in previous campaigns at getting its voters to vote SNP twice, enabling it to hoover up constituency seats but also still pick up list seats.  The gain of Aberdeen South and the loss of Dundee West muddies the waters, as does the creation of an additional Angus constituency.  The burd is not at all sure the SNP will get any regional MSPs this time round, yet it must if it is to stay in government.  Who might benefit if this final seat goes elsewhere?  On a very good night, possibly Labour or the Lib Dems might just squeak another one through.  For once, the burd is completely torn but I will go for the SNP by a smidgeon.

The final list tally then – 3 Labour, 2 Conservatives, 1 Lib Dem, 1 SNP resulting in totals for this region of 8 SNP, 5 Labour, 2 Conservatives and 2 Liberal Democrats.  Better Nation arrives at the same total for the SNP, though we get there differently, one less for Labour and one extra for the Tories.   A side wager of some order is definitely seeming more attractive by the region…


12 thoughts on “#sp11 Regions revisited – North East Scotland

  1. Pingback: #sp11 Regions revisited – the totaliser « A Burdz Eye View

  2. The LD vote in rural areas of Aberdeenshire and in the posh bits of Aberdeen City is essentially a left over from the 80s when Tories switched en masse in areas like this to the LDs. I’ve never felt there was a significant core LD vote here and it’s been shown quite clearly that the LDs can be removed by hard fought campaigns by the SNP. Aberdeen Cooncil – tbh I beleive people know the difference btwn Holyrood and the local authority and want a sensible government in Edinburgh. so I’m not convinced that the SNP will get punished for the Council problems. You’re right of course about the Angus seats. The fantasist that believes Labour might win one manages to debase all his other predictions with one as absurd as that. Labour are in a unionist alliance in Angus with the Tories and LDs so a hard area to play the anti UK coalition card. Agree on Dundee East and Aberdeen South, the seat I lived in as a child. Watt has the advantage of a strong SNP voting area being moved into the seat. Greens – no seats. LDs hold one constituency and possibly one on the List. Tories – two at the most but it’s possible just one. NE Voters always rally round the SNP when there is a major squeeze between them and Labour. Also the area is incredibly prosperous with a strong economy. What cards does Labour have to play against the SNP in an area like this?

    • Ah, your local knowledge and incisiveness is telling! Still think there will be a wee bit of a backlash in areas where SNP has unpopular councils. Though should say that I think the SNP/LibDem administration in Aberdeen has done a sterling job in the worst possible circumstances – another council area where Labour left the biscuit tin empty and in this case, owing biscuits to others. I agree that the Lib Dem vote is soft and will switch away. But sometimes think folk then give a kind of sympathy vote on the list when switch from a long held voting record in the constituency. We’ll see. The hit on the oil revenues will do the SNP no harm at all, of course, at the expense of LDs and Tories!

      • I guess there is something which I think is missing in all your predictions but which applies especially strongly to the NE and that is what reasons you believe people might have for voting against the SNP. That’s why I disagree with your Lothian predictions too. The reasons you cite are all far too soft to outweigh the various factors in the SNP’s favour – recognition, popularity, strengthening economy, clear and attractive branding. Let’s ask ourselves why, for example, someone like my mother, a pensioner who lives in Aberdeen Central, might want to vote against the SNP. We all know Labour are hoping that folk like her will use this election as a chance to protest against the UK coalition but I just don’t believe that is enough to get Labour through in most of these seats or to garner sufficient support on the list to make up for the seats they’ve lost in the constituency vote. In fact it’s a strategy that’s bound to fail in places like the NE. The economy in this area is absolutely booming as a result of oil price increases. Unemployment is amongst the lowest in Europe so what do voters get by putting the SNP out? I think this scenario is not unique to the NE – the Lothians fall somewhat into the same category. One other issue is the utter collapse of Labour as an activist party in Aberdeen city and its almost total absence from all the rural seats which only leaves Dundee West as a possibility. I don’t agree with your sympathy vote for the LDs in this region – they are going to get more hammered here than almost anywhere else bar Central, Glasgow and West Scotland.NE was an area which returned a massive Salmond vote last time with voters actually switching to the SNP on the list if I remember correctly. Expect the SNP vote to rise here. This is not an area where LDs will switch to Labour.

      • I think these are all fair points and I ahve made them in other posts – around theme of what is labour for these days and how it has an awful lot of work to do on this area, especially on a big idea. And I don’t disagree with what you are saying about the campaign to come. Again, I have said that I think we will see more votes shift in the campaign proper than have for a long time – not least because the cuts hit people’s pockets for the first time and that will focus minds sharply!

        The joy of doing these kind of posts is knowing that at one level I am being deliberately provocative to get a debate going and also to hear other people’s views. And one of the reasons why me and the BN boys (-1) are actually quite similar is because we are trying to apply a bit of the science ie the poll findings and have been following these for months. So it does give us a different perspective on how people are likely to vote. And over the months – though it may shift in coming weeks – there has been a sense of the vote going home to Labour because of the Westminster storms around us. Whatever, Labour and the SNP are not going to take many seats from each other, 1 or 2 here or there. Who forms the government will be polarised between these two’s ability to take others’ seats (IMHO!) and whose vote stays up in which regions. The fact that it is so close is exciting no?!

        I think it would be really good to hear a different voice articulate the why would anyone vote against SNP and for Labour in this election and would love it if you fancied writing a post on this theme? You can email me direct at burdzeyeview@hotmail.co.uk to discuss.

  3. I broadly agree with Aberdeen Central and Aberdeen South & NK predictions. Dundee W I don’t know, looking at the constituency I can’t see how he can hang on with what looks to be a big rise in the Labour vote.

    John, am I right in saying you’re involved in the Lab Angus campaign? You must be pretty mighty to get a near 20pt swing ;).

    I’m sad that the Greens don’t even get a mention in the blogpost. ‘We’ did have a seat from 2003-7. (I’m a new member) I suppose that this election will show us up here just how much of an impact local environmental issues such as the Trump and UTG really have.

    I’ll admit that it doesn’t outwardly look great for getting a Green elected based on the figures alone. The additional constituency should be a benefit. I think the vote should definitely rise.. I feel like we’ll be borderline for the 7th seat and at the mercy of the vagaries of the electoral system. That’s on a good day. If we have a repeat of 2007 we’re not going to figure

    • I apologise – I hadn’t factored in the local issues nor the local recognition Martin Ford will carry and I think you are right – the Greens are in with a shout at that 7th seat. But based on the ICM findings of 5% they still have a wee bit to go to get there. All to play for though! Enjoy your first election campaign as a Green!

    • Hi Daniel,
      Dundee Labour have put in a lot of hard work to Dundee West, with a well known local figure and lots of work on the streets and knocking on doors. I think its going to be one of the “bellweather seats” this time around and if Labour doesnt get it, the SNP are going to stay in Government.

      Well spotted – I am the Labour Agent in Angus North & Mearns. I’ll agree that its not one of our key seats, but I think there are several factors which could result in a surprise here:

      No sitting MSP – Andrew Welsh has retired, and Mike Rumbles is going for Aberdeenshire West. Could mean a drop of 5-10% in SNP vote? Drop in the Lib Dem vote?

      Totally new constituency – reduces tactical voting factor – people wont know who to vote for/not vote for

      Disaffected Lib Dems – some wont vote, some will vote for us some will stick with them through thick & thin

      Notionally, 2nd, 3rd and 4th are relatively close

      SNP & Tory candidates are both on their lists and are sitting list MSPs, and thus far have not campaigned very hard-they’ll both get elected whatever the result

      So we have reasons to be cheerful. And so far, we have been the only party out on the ground, talking to voters in the street, although its been hard against MSPs with their communication allowance….

  4. I was commenting on this post last night when it vanished before I had finished! A good analysis -only you will have to bear with me for when I predict a surprise Labour victory in Angus North 🙂

    I think you’re right about Dundee West & Aberdeen Central, although I thought Aberdeen Central was a notional SNP seat under the new boundaries, so technically a Labour gain.

    You’re right about a list strategy, as last time (and probably before) we lost a lot of votes on the list. the cross-paper analysis showed a lot of votes going to the SNP, which I suspect wont happen (as much) this time.

    I dont think the SNP will pick up any list seats, as under the notional list boundary they had 40.5% of the vote with no list seats, and they would need their list vote to increase to gain that extra seat if they pick up the expected number of constituencies. I still think that the Greens have a good chance here, especially picking up disaffected Lib dems, as they are fielding Martin Ford, a disaffected Lib Dem on their list. I’ll give them the last list seat in place of the SNP one you gave.

    What we’re finding on the ground here, at least in rural Aberdeenshire is that at least a third of the Lib Dem vote was actually Labour supporters voting tactically to keep the tory out. But they dont have Mike Rumbles to vote for in the Mearns, so we might get them back, and we might get them on the list now too.

    • Yes sorry for confusing the bejeebers out of you! Thanks for those comments – they are most welcome and intuitive. And I had forgotten about the Martin Ford factor so think you are right and that the Greens may well pick up the 7th seat. Think they will need 6 per cent plus though to do it, and on the ICM poll findings they are a wee bit off. But yes, local issues will play a role and a lot of people are unhappy – still – about the Trump decision. Understandably so.

      I do think you travel more in hope than expectation but good luck with your campaign! Keep it clean!

      • My spreadsheet is maybe not as fancy as the better nation swingometer, but for the north east at any rate, the Greens can make a breakthrough at less than 6% (I’ve even had them pick one up at 4.9% of the vote!) it all depends on the configuration of the other parties.

        Thanks, but I wont have anything to do with a dirty or personal campaign – I want to get our positive message (yes we do have one!) out there.

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