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…