#sp11 Regions revisited – Lothians

Every time I think I’m catching up, Better Nation forges ahead.  That’ll be because there are two of them and one of me huh?

Anyway, we’re off to the Lothians where Jeff (possibly) has an advantage in that he doesn’t live here and so can take a wholly objective view, which is one of the reasons why he and not Malc did this region.  So what of my calculations?  Let’s factor in a little of the local circumstances first:

  • Labour left the biscuit tin empty, making it difficult for the incoming Lib Dem/SNP council administration in Edinburgh to do anything than take the tough decisions Labour avoided by spending its way out of trouble
  • West Lothian council has been run by the SNP for the first ever time and they have made a decent fist of it
  • Three constituencies have SNP ministers – Almond Valley, Linlithgow and Edinburgh Eastern – standing again
  • One constituency has a retiring Labour MSP as well as a redrawn boundary:  Midlothian North & Musselburgh (and part of the constituency in an SNP run council are which again has performed well)
  • this region returned the only Independent MSP in 2007 in Margo McDonald
  • the trams!

The points of agreement.  Labour will hold Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Linlithgow and Midlothian North & Musselburgh.  It pains me, in particular, that Fiona Hyslop will still not take Linlithgow, at the fourth time of asking and with a redrawn boundary in the SNP’s favour.  But the national swing is against it.  And I am delighted that Sarah Boyack will make it back.  A nicer, more hard working, more consensual MSP you’d travel hard to find.  She is also bright and while many in Labour claim to have been lifelong devolution supporters, Sarah is one of the few who can claim it for real.  When she makes it back, she is long overdue a return to the front bench.  Finally, Edinburgh Pentlands will be a Conservative hold.

Which leaves four.  And at last, a stushie, or at least significant disagreement.

The SNP will hold Almond Valley.  Labour needs an infinitesmal swing but it still won’t be enough.  It’s the kind of prediction where the burd ignores the science and goes with instinct.  The same applies to Edinburgh Eastern and that will be two SNP Ministers back as constituency MSPs in the central belt.

Edinburgh Southern, currently held by the Lib Dems, will fall to Labour.  Urban seats, particularly where the Lib Dems rely on a hidden Tory vote, are most vulnerable.  Labour kept this seat in the General Election, despite predictions that it would fall to the Lib Dems and the constituency has a high number of Labour councillors, benefitting from being in opposition rather than in charge of the cuts.

Which leaves the wild card of Edinburgh Western.  On the figures alone, this should be the safest Lib Dem seat in the country.  But the SNP have closed the gap in recent Scottish elections and Labour fought its way back into contention with a second place showing at the UK election last year.  Again, there has been a hidden Tory vote which may be less inclined to “lend its vote” to the Lib Dems and in wards where the Lib Dems have traditionally been strong, there have been some controversial council decisions.  Finally, the Labour candidate is a longstanding and popular councillor, Lesley Hinds, who is also a former Lord Provost.  The burd might be deemed to have fallen off her perch with this one but I reckon she will win this seat by the narrowest of margins.  This seat might well provide our Portillo moment of 2011….  And yes, I know this makes a mockery of one of my year ahead predictions.

Where do we differ?  Mainly on SNP and Lib Dem seats – they say none for the SNP, I say two;  they say two for the Lib Dems, I say they will end up with none.  Which of course has a bearing on which parties might take the list seats.

Better Nation indicated – purely on the science – that the SNP would take 4 seats, the Greens 1, the Tories 1 and Margo will also get back.  But the burdz constituency predictions mean that the Lib Dems are bound to scrape one back through the regional vote but at whose expense?  It has to be the SNP.  In 2007, their high water mark, they took a total of five seats in this region.  I cannot see them taking more and indeed, may even take one less.  Margo will definitely return and the Greens will also keep at least a single seat.  The Tories should keep their list seat but Labour will lose theirs.  So, no more fudging:  the burd predicts 2 SNP, 1 Independent, 1 Conservative, 1 Lib Dem and 2 Greens

And if that doesn’t make James at Better Nation smile, I don’t know what will.

Final tally – 6 Labour, all in constituency seats;  4 SNP, 2 in constituencies and 2 on the list;  2 Conservatives, 1 of each;  1 Lib Dem, on the list;  2 Greens, both on the list and 1 Independent, again on the list.  I’m expecting an incredulous response or two….


15 thoughts on “#sp11 Regions revisited – Lothians

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

  2. Apologies for misleading. Jeff hasn’t got his ready yet – so I’ve posted up West Scotland… and you’ve just got caught up. 😦

  3. Those pesky LibDems eh?

    I may be completely wrong but I suspect that it is their rural vote that will collapse more than their urban vote.

    Much of the LibDem strength in rural areas has been built on a very strong Liberal tradition and is most definitely anti-Tory. They are likely to be very offended by the current turn of events and, while Charlie and Ming might get away with it themselves because of the stance they have personally taken, I’m not sure others will be given the benefit of the doubt.

    The urban vote is much more difficult to pigeon-hole for me as it tends to be focussed in well heeled suburban areas that don’t strike me as areas that would naturally rail against the current Westminster programme.

    And, as I’ve said many times before, the LibDems were already at or close to rock bottom in many Labour/SNP marginals and it is difficult to see much more of a squeeze on their vote in these places regardless how badly they do nationally.

    • Love it! Another, totally different opinion – which is as valid and rings potentially true as anything anyone else has written/opined on it!

      I think looking across the regions at where seats are up for grabs, both SNP and Labour are in a race to capture as many of them as possible eg Aberdeen South to SNP; Edinburgh South to Labour. To some extent, I think who forms the next government will depend on who is most successful with these target seats. And in very tight marginals like Almond Valley, even where their vote has been squeezed into oblivion, converting that last few hundred will be the difference between SNP holding those seats and losing them.

      And as Michael Hance has pointed out, it is actually about more than that, and whose message – SNP’s positive record, team, vision approach vs negative and bitty policy tack taken by Labour – which wins through.

      All to play for! Good luck!

  4. Hmmm….

    Again – I’ll protest and say it was “him” (Jeff) and not “them” at Better Nation (James and I) who predicted this one, in case it gets James in trouble. Also because I disagree with Jeff on a couple.

    My issue with the entire election is this: who knows what is going to happen with the Lib Dem vote? In places like Edinburgh West (and Aberdeen South & Kincardine, or whatever it is now called) I think the urban votes could abandon in droves but rural voters might stick with them. Or they could – as is Lib Dem tradition – comfortably hold the seats they currently hold – as they likely will iin Highlands and Islands.

    Either way, it makes predicting a) the constituencies they hold and b) the ramifications for the list seats very, very difficult.

    I think its Jeff next – and he has Central and Glasgow left – so I suspect our next one will be either of those. Just to give you a head start!

    • Malc I make the point about this being Jeff’s post at the top of the piece and deliberately am also keeping James out of it. Though I’m toiling to see the same delineation on BN – youse are either collective or you’re not and maybe need to explain that more?

      Anyhoo, apologies if still not clear from my end, will keep trying.

      And I concur entirely on what is going to happen to the LD vote and am using instinct and other folks’ opinions to help me out here about where the LD vote (and its particular characteristics in any given area) is least likely to stay LD. Labour and the SNP both saying it is falling to them – we shall see!

      Thanks for the head start – still got to do Mid Scotland and will get my thinking cap on for Central and Glasgow. I’m reckoning we might actually agree for once! Which will be very boring…

      • Apologies if I sounded grumpy – that wasn’t the intention! I guess we should be clearer on the blog, though I think we have said before that just because it appears it doesn’t mean all 3 of us agree. That’s been clear on the 3p argument, and on various other things! And yes – you are always clear at pointing out in the first paragraph who posted it – its just in the remainder you refer to the fact that “Better Nation indicated…” where it was Jeff.

        Also, I’m not sure what we’re (or, certainly what I’M doing!) would count as “pure science! There’s a healthy dose of intuition and guesswork involved too… but don’t tell Jeff – he thinks its scientific!

        Anyway – I’ve got West Scotland prepped – just waiting for Jeff to get one done first…

      • Yes, Jeff advised me on the science – I like your approach, scientific but with a healthy dose of intuition. Works for me!! And have just realised that we will get all this finished, the polls will shift dramatically and our “predictions” will be out of date…. At some point I’m sure, we will get bored!

  5. I’m hoping the SSP can get a seat here. They’re not that far behind the greens in a couple of recent polls, Colin Fox will get a fair bit of local support. In a recent council by election the SSP were getting a lot of second preference votes from Labour voters. I hope this will be repeated as there is no chance of Labour getting any list seats in the region.

  6. Sarah Boyack – can’t see the attraction myself and of course she’s been barely getting through in Edinburgh for what must be decades now. I think you over estimate Labour’s ‘buoyancy’ to be honest and Hinds is well known but ‘popular’? Not so sure about that either. And popular in Edinburgh West – can’t see the Lib Dems shifting to her at all. Not that they won’t shift. Middle class voters are interested in the economy principally and the unemployment decreases are going to do wonders for the SNP in places like this (and incidentally in much of the North East – which is another story). Similarly I think you under estimate the impact of the campiagn on this election. That’s why I think you’re wrong on two counts – Fiona Hyslop will win Linlithgow and the SNP will exceed its vote in the whole region on what it achieved in 2007. I agree with you on Kenny Mc., Edinburgh South and Almond Valley. Margo back and one Green. Greens – vote down on 2007.

    • I think Sarah barely getting through is down to Central being quite a transient, student population but also has had shifts in boundaries. Sorry but I like Sarah – her and I did the circuit of equality hustings in 99 and she is a decent enough human being. She was always happy to admit when she agreed with the SNP, publicly. Though surprised at her not liking LIT. Hinds is popular, particularly in her core areas but also beyond. There are a lot of local circumstances in Western that will cause votes to shift to Labour if not necessarily her personally. And Lib Dem vote here got to be very soft. Polling tending to show that LD vote shifting Labour – though think it will be tactical and shift to SNP where needed.

      And Michael, if we all agreed, wouldn’t this be a boring game?! Happy to buy you a pint if I’m wrong about Linlithgow and list result!

      • Quite, but no I’m not buying the Lesley Hinds argument. The problem again, Kate, is that Edinburgh and its ever increasing commuter belt is full of aspirational voters who are being offered what by Labour? The chance to vote against Cameron and Clegg – it’s just not enough to win. And I don’t think the polls you’re using to make your analyses have enough reliable information to conclude anything significant about LD voters and what they are going to do in May other than that many won’t be voting LD. SNP vote in this region will definitely be up. Ex Labour Provosts and Cooncil Leaders in Edinburgh haven’t got a great record in elections to other institutions – see Milligan and Geddes. The economy in this region is one of the most robust in the UK. I keep asking poeple the same question – what do voters get by supporting Labour – in terms of the economy, I mean? If you can’t say neither can the electorate. I really just made up the Lithgae prediction but I think recognition is Fiona’s big advantage this time. OK, one more point in this region – the SNP vote went up in many constituencies last year despite Lab popularity due to being the main alternative to the hated Tories but you’re saying when it’s a Lab SNP straight fight SNP will go down? I can’t see it.

  7. 2 greens eh? the top of the green list in lothian is populated by councillors. if they win at holyrood will they resign their council seats or carry on for a year? some interesting by elections if they do win @ holyrood and resign.
    I reckon the SNP might just do better than you predict if the responses to SNp campaign that I’m seeing are carried across the Lothians.
    This election will be a straight fight between SNP & Labour so like 2007 room for others likely to be squeezed. Perhaps even more so this time!

    • I don’t know that they would resign, given it’s only a year to go? The SNP has allowed dual mandates so not sure there would be much mileage in calling for that…. List and council probably do-able, at least for a short time.

      And yes I was torn between additional one for the SNP and a second for Greens. I went for the latter, partly to stop James (@twodoctors) getting all upset but sadly, also because I think the SNP aren’t going to quite hit the high water mark of 2007. Happy to be disabused of this notion on the day though! While the fight is a straight one between the SNP and Labour, think on the list, in regions like the Lothians, is where smaller parties will continue to do okay. Be a very different picture in other regions like Central and West of Scotland though!

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