Saturday, January 09, 2010

Why the LibDems Will Gain Seats in Scotland

Several people have commented on the fact that I have predicted 15 Liberal Democrat MPs in Scotland in my General Election Prediction post earlier today. I agree, it sounds a lot, but if you go through each seat it's perfectly possible. They currently hold eleven seats, so I am predicting four gains. Here are the seats they currently hold...

Dunbartonshire E
Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine
Argyll & Bute
Berwickshire Roxburgh & Selkirk
Caithness, Sutherland
Edinburgh W
Fife NE
Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey
Orkney & Shetland
Ross Skye & Lochaber

I don't see them losing any of these seats. Most of them have fairly big majorities. So let's look at the four seats I am predicting they will gain from Labour.

Aberdeen S - Labour maj of 1,348 to overcome
East Lothian - Labour maj of 7,620 to overcome
Edinburgh N & Leith - Labour maj of 2,153 to overcome
Edinburgh S - Labour maj of 405 to overcome

East Lothian may be a long shot, I admit. Edinburgh South is a three way marginal, which the Conservatives are targetting too, but they are 3,500 votes behind the LibDems.

Dunfermline & Fife West, Willie Rennie's seat, is classed as a Labour hold, although you could also argue it is a Labour gain. But he won it in a by election. If he retains it, which I doubt, it would push the LibDem total up to 16.


Jess The Dog said...

Lib Dems are the only real choice for the majority of voters who are disillusioned with the SNP and angry with Labour. The Tories have little or no support in the Central Belt and are vying with the Lib Dems in the Borders and other "conservative" area. So the Lib Dems will probably do well in Scotland.

Anonymous said...

God its so hard to post on this site these days. If the Tories do not take Berwickshire Roxburgh & Selkirk
(a) I will be short of a hat and (b) they will not have 4 seats in Scotland. I think the Lib Dems will lose 4 seats in Scotland (including Dumfermline) which is less than they deserve. They are a shambles up here.

John MacLeod said...

Hm. Interesting analysis - I am tempted to don my Sir Humphrey smirk and even describe it as 'courageous.' Two realities should urge caution. At every election since the war when a Labour government was ousted (1951, 1970, 1979) the Liberals lost votes and seats; and at the last Scottish Parliament election, in 2007, the Liberal Democrats had a most disappointing result, losing three constituencies - two (Argyll & Bute, and Gordon) to the SNP and one (Roxburgh and Berwickshire) to the Conservatives - they did, however, gain Dunfermline West, and I'd be surprised if Willie Rennie didn't hold onto the equivalent Westminster division this time.

I think generally very few seats are going to change hands in Scotland and the Tories would be privately contented to take two - four is optimistic and the eleven they publicly target is laughable. The SNP should hold the six seats they carried in 2005 and have a chance of three or four gains - with Argyll & Bute as a distinct possibility - but John Mason has virtually no hope of holding Glasgow East, which he won by a whisper in the 2008 by-election despite an atrocious Labour campaign.

I agree that the SNP will not take twenty or anything like it, but I think they will see a little advance and the Lib Dems being thankful to hold to their 2005 position. As for Edinburgh, you must remember that the Lib Dems presently control the city council (dominating the ruling coalition) and the administration is far from popular, from the ongoing fiasco with a new tram network to general fumbling of services; I'd be quite astonished to see Edinburgh voters increase their Westminster tally.

In Scotland the Liberal Democrats have generally seized - and held - a large part of the historic Tory vote and indeed several of their MPs up here would really be quite at home as wettish Conservative members, eg John Thurso and Michael Moore - indeed, Dunfermline West apart, all their gains in the last thirty years came from the Conservatives. This is a big reason why the Tory party is now so marginsalised here and there has been no Cameron bounce.

Captain said...

The only currently held seat on your list I think they might lose is Gordon. The Trump evictions are pretty unpopular in the area and are being driven through by a Lib Dem led council. If Malcolm Bruce comes off the fence against Trump he might hold, otherwise he's on a shoogly peg.

As for the pickups you suggest, Aberdeen South is plausible, East Lothian is indeed a long shot, Edinburgh North and Leith is more likely to go SNP, and the Lib Dem candidate in Edinburgh South is a prize numpty and certainly won't win despite some barcharts which are dishonest even by Lib Dem standards.

The idea that one of the parties of inactivity in Scottish Government 1999-2007 will be a good home for anti-SNP votes (previous comment) is absurd, though.

The polls show them on the decline, associated with a pure oppositionalism in Holyrood (example: opposed to minimum pricing on alcohol despite supporting it everywhere else in the UK), and frankly, a lack of purpose, point or guiding narrative.

Not the Messiah said...

No chance, they are going to suffer from a squeeze between the SNP and Labour in Scotland.

Tavish's leadership north of the border has been woeful, Clegg is an unknown.

They also have a number of party grandee's retiring.

TartanSeer said...


The reality on the ground is that the Liberals are haemorrhaging votes.

Here in Argyll & Bute, currently held by the Liberal's Alan Reid, the real contest is between the SNP & the Tories.

Watch the SNP pick up the anti Tory vote & win through in Argyll & Bute.

Other Liberal seats will go the same way.

Anonymous said...

I hope that you haven't ruled out the "anyone but Gordon" vote

I'd rather vote SNP than Limp Dem

Andy JS said...

The only problem with these predictions is that most opinion polls are showing the LDs on about 11% in Scotland. They polled 22% last time. So they're support may well be halved, (maybe one reason is that Charles Kennedy is no longer their leader).

If their support does drop by 11% I can't see them winning any new seats and they'll probably lose quite a few.

Anonymous said...

What about Glasgow North? There is only a Labour majority of 3,338 there, and Labour has become deeply unpopular as a result of the Labour council shutting schools across the constituency and the city as a whole.

Easterross said...

Iain you obviously know little about Scottish politics. The Scottish LibDems are in free fall.

they should lose
East Dunbartonshire

and they will not win a single seat in Scotland

Stephen Glenn said...

Iain, I'm not sure why you are doubting Willie will retain the Dunfermline and West Fife seat. In the Dunfermline West seat in the 2007 Scottish election it was the only seat in Scotland that the LIb Dems had a swing from both Labour and the SNP in the SNP's high watermark election and a particularly bad night for the Lib Dems, but we gained the equivalent seat.

I doubt that this will be a Labour 'hold' later this year. It wil remain Willie's with a considerably increased majority, when the remainder of the City of Dunfermline comes back into the equation.

Anonymous said...

Aberdeen S

I lived in Aberdeen and know this constituency well. As said by some one it is plausible LD may win. On balance, I agree that LD are in a free fall in Scotland and I wouldn't put money on them gaining many seats.

Richard Manns said...

Iain, you seem to be convinced that the Liberals are untouchable where they already are, and will make gains where they're close.


"I don't see them losing any of these seats. Most of them have fairly big majorities."

What happens to the Liberal marginals? They're not magically protected because other seats aren't marginals!

What happened to Liberals losing seats under big Tory wins? It's been happening since the War, for obvious reasons: tactical voting to keep Tories out, and a higher number of Con/LD than Lab/LD marginals.

And finally, in the polls, support for the Scots Liberals has almost halved since 2005. In that situation, are you really expecting a 35% increase in seats?