#sp11 Regions revisited: Mid Scotland and Fife

Ah good!  A bunfight at last!  Malc at Better Nation’s predictions for this region are eminently sensible:  on a different day, with a different poll (I’m still using the ICM one, for consistency’s sake) we might even have agreed, on every seat.  But no.

A word first, though, about this region – this is definitely going to be one to watch.  The SNP made huge constituency gains in Mid Scotland and Fife in 2007, and even managed to scoop a list seat, and this was one of the regions that helped propel it over the winning line.  These gains were made at Labour’s expense.  Boundary changes in the intervening period have also helped to provide this area with some of the tightest marginals in the country.  The shifts here – or lack of them – will have a huge bearing on which party forms the next government of Scotland.

As usual, let’s get the easy ones out of the way – I agree with Malc that Labour will hold Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy, the SNP will hold Mid Fife and Glenrothes, Perthshire North and Perthshire South and the Lib Dems will hold North East Fife.

According to the polls, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane should fall to Labour but Malc reckons that Keith Brown will hold it.  Sadly, I cannot agree – much as I want to predict an SNP hold, for Keith Brown is an excellent MSP and has performed wonderfully as a Minister, I cannot.  This seat will fall to Labour and we’ll have a new face at Holyrood.  Worse, Stirling will go too.  Again, Bruce Crawford has done a sterling job, particularly in his Ministerial role at keeping the SNP Government show on the road, but it won’t be enough.  (Though of course, if the polls keep shifting, these predictions might turn out completely wrong….but based on what the ICM poll says, the boundary moves and previous voter history, these seats will turn red again.)  Labour will also take Dunfermline back from the Lib Dems.

So, that’s 5 constituencies for Labour, 3 for the SNP and 1 for Lib Dems, reversing Malc’s total of 5 SNP, 3 Labour and 1 Lib Dem. 

In 2007, 3 of the list seats went to the Conservatives, 3 to Labour and 1 to the SNP.  This time round, Malc reckons the Conservatives will still take 3, Labour will take 2, and the Lib Dems and the SNP will win one apiece.

While this is a good region for the Conservatives, with a number of seats where they have a large core vote, with poll ratings as they are, I cannot see them taking three seats out of this region this time round.  The Lib Dems will take one but by the skin of their teeth, preventing the Scottish Greens from winning a list seat. 

Moreover, this is the kind of region where Labour needs its list strategy to work for it.  In 1999 and 2003 when they took the lion’s share of constituency seats, Labour did not pick up any on the list.  This time I reckon they might just manage one, which will result in John Park breathing a big sigh of relief, having stood down from the candidacy in Dunfermline.  This means, of course, that the SNP will take three and Bruce Crawford and Keith Brown will get back to Holyrood, with Annabelle Ewing finally getting to follow her mother and brother into the Scottish Parliament.

So, my list tally is:  3 SNP, 2 Conservatives, 1 Labour and 1 Lib Dem.

Out of this region, Malc reckoned that the the SNP would win a total of six seats while I am predicting that they will do likewise but with more list top ups than constituencies held or gained.  Malc says that Labour will take 5 but I think they will win 6, gaining one at the Conservatives’ expense on the list.  Malc reckons they will hold on to their usual three list seats, I say two and finally, we both agree that the Lib Dems will win two seats, 1 constituency and 1 on the list.

And that’s another one done and dusted.  Though as I pointed out, if the SNP keep gaining in the polls, especially on the constituency vote, I might be eating these words or forced to do it all again in a fortnight’s time.

9 thoughts on “#sp11 Regions revisited: Mid Scotland and Fife

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

  2. Kate,

    We’re getting a strong response in our favour on the doors and I have to say that it looks like this area will have the usual bounce over and above the polls.

    We polled 33% in 2007 and got 38.6% in 2007. George Reid in 2003 had a similar spike in support.

    We have a lot of work to do, but C&D should be an SNP-hold.

    • Paul

      You have no idea how glad I am to read your comment. I have felt both guilty and sad at posting this prediction and did so through gritted teeth – I was doing my best to follow the science and not allow my personal predilections get in the way. So news from the front that the numbers locally are better than national polls suggest – and there is a lesson in there for many of these marginal seats – is most welcome.

      The situation in Clacks raises an interesting point – where things are tight and people want to vote both for their preferred Scottish government, local candidate and kick against the UK coalition government partners, are they looking tactically at where to place their votes? In that where the SNP is the incumbent or running second, the swing is towards them, where Labour holds or challenges closest, the swing is towards them. Hold on to your hats folks – it is going to be a bumpy ride all the way to the polls!

  3. I would say that we can expect a tighter race in NE Fife than some pundits are suggesting. We do have to remember that the huge LD majority is pretty much entirely a personal vote for Ming which was merely carried over to Holyrood elections partly by default and partly by the continued fear that the tories would win the seat if the ‘anti-tory’ vote split – remember here that in 2007 the SNP came second on the list vote in the seat, so there is a sense (as there wasn’t when Ming first won the seat in 1987) that people can vote for the SNP (or even Labour) and not end up with a tory MSP

    • Again this is interesting – I had assumed that NE Fife was a safe LD seat and even with a swing away it wouldn’t be enough to remove the incumbent. But perhaps voters are thinking locally and indicating they will vote tactically to do the most damage to the coalition partners especially the LDs and also where to place their votes to get the government in Scotland they want.

  4. I’m unsure about the LDs managing to get 2 seats. If they win a consituency halving their 07′ Regional vote would place them on 18,000, easily getting one. But, If we conservatively estimate that the’re going to lose about 20% of the list vote(13.2% –> 10.5%) it would bring that down to 14,000.

    That’s right around where the Tories would be (for 3rd List) and Greens for one list seat.

  5. I’d agree with most of that but I think perhaps people are underestimating the scale of the defection away from the Lib Dems in rural areas. I live in North East Fife and there is a real move away from the LDs, which appears to be largely towards the SNP rather than Labour or the tories. Now it would be hard to say that LDs are not favourites to hold the seat but remember that Ian Smith doesn’t have the same profile as Ming and that the LDs are polling nationally at around 5-8% in what seems to be very much a two horse race.

    • And from what I hear from other quarters, he doesn’t enjoy the same people or constituency skills as Ming, so it might be a lot tighter than previous results suggest in North East Fife?

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