Posted tagged ‘SNP’

Could a Glenrothes By-Election Skirmish Threaten Brown?

June 6, 2008

Rumbles today from Benedict Brogan’s Political Blog on a ‘potential’ upcoming by-election – with enough caveats about who it could be as the Member of Parliament is ill. By not mentioning who exactly it was, Brogan set the bloggers a hunting, and the evidence points to the constituency of John MacDougall MP, of Glenrothes.

If there were to be a by-election in the central Fife constituency, it should on paper be a safe seat for Labour. It’s slap bang in the natural stronghold of Fife; Glenrothes is the seat of power in the area both for the local council and Labour; and close by is Dunfermline and West Fife – likely to be the only Labour Gain once a General Election is called. There’s every likelihood that while it won’t be a family inheritance candidate such as Tamsin Dunwoody), it will be a strong, dare I say it ‘traditional’ Scottish Labour Party member (another ‘promoted’ Fife Labour Councillor in the form of Alex Rowley perhaps).

But it’s not that easy. The obvious electoral test is what happened in this constituency at the Scottish Election last year – Central Fife is the closest and saw a 7.6% swing to the SNP from Labour, and with that it was another SNP Gain. Something like a 14.5% swing (if my maths works out) would be needed for an SNP Gain (what was the Crewe and Nantwich number again?), the current majority is around 10,000. Is that do-able? In the current climate both against Labour, and with a credible by-election opposition in the SNP (who can now point to the Scottish Parliament and how ‘responsible’ they are when in power) it would be a very close run contest.

Personally I think it would still be a LAB hold, but with a much reduced majority. Even that would be a dagger in the Labour heartlands – the knives would be out for Gordon Brown if the SNP get within 1,000 votes here – who knows what would happen if they were to loose the seat. Especially as next door to Glenrothes is Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Brown’s own constituency. You’d think that an 18,000 majority would be rock solid, especially as Gagarin Way is inside the boundaries…

If there were to be a by-election, the drawbridges would have to be raised when it’s over. The friendly fire alone would require it.

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Scottish Conservative MPs After the Next Election

May 12, 2008

Yes that’s plural. In all the fun of the Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party vs The Labour Party (which does sound like a divorce decree nee The War of the Roses), it’s worthwhile considering who the main beneficiary will be at the upcoming General Election. On a UK level, it’s looking more and more likely that this will be portrayed as a ‘how many seats can Cameron’s Conservatives win?’ contest, and if (a) this will get them to a majority, and (b) how big that majority will be.

The scottish view of the party is going to be very interesting. I don’t yet think that the Tories are in any place well suited for a revival across the country. Political wounds specifically from The Poll Tax and The Miner’s Strike still occupy prominent places in the Scottish mind, especially in the central belt, and as the people who were deeply affected by those policies reach the age group where they are more likely to vote, the likelihood of them switching to a Conservative for a ‘protest’ vote is minimal.

In my mind, the SNP will pick up most of the protesting voters. But that doesn’t leave the Conservatives out for the count. The short answer, I think they’ll reach 20% of the votes and I think there are a handful of potential constituencies that are worth watching in the run up to polling day.

Dumfries and Galloway – (Labour majority 2,992)
If any inroads are made, even a whisper, then it will be in this seat. As far south geographically as possible, this is a straight fight against Labour.

Stirling – (Labour Majority 4,767)
Michael Forsythe’s old seat (and he can still cause a chill to run down our spines) is another straight fight against Labour, with the total Labour vote holding at around 15,000 in the last two elections. The depth of the collapse of Labour in the central belt will determine if this stays red or goes blue. A seat that also declares quite early on Election night, so a good indicator to fortunes.

Edinburgh South – (Labour majority 405 to the Liberals, 3897 to the Conservatives)
A pretty ugly fight in 2005, with dodgy bar graphs, claim and counter claim from the opposition parties eventually allowed Nigel Griffiths to sneak through the middle and win a wafer thin majority over the Liberal Democrats. I’ll be interested to see just how much effort is put into this seat by the respective campaigns.

Edinburgh North and Leith – Labour majority 2153 to the Liberals, 6628 to the Conservatives).
Adjoining Edinburgh South, this constituency presents the Liberal Democrats with a question – it’s 6th on their list of target seats, and the Conservative candidate is some distance back. But Edinburgh South is well within reach, albeit as part of a three way fight. A collapse on the Labour vote hands this to the Liberals, a Conservative resurgence turns it blue.

Perth and North Perthshire – (SNP majority 1521)
Here’;s a might interesting constituency, and one of the few direct SNP/Conservative match ups in the electoral landscape, with Labour out the fight. If the vote holds up here, it’s going to be a good ight for the Conservatives, but I think we’ll see a swing to the SNP and a hold.

Ochil and South Perthshire – (Labour majority 688 to the SNP, 4624 to the Conservatives).
This should be out of reach for the Conservatives, I’ve got it flagged up as a firewall. I very much doubt that this would become blue, but if it does then Labour would be looking at a very long time out of office. This is more likely to return to SNP hands, which is still pretty damaging to Labour both in Westminster and in the knock on effect in Holyrood.

Want me to put a number on it? They’ll win Dumfries, Stirling and one of Edinburgh South or Edinburgh North (depending on how the Liberals campaign in those Edinburgh seats). To take the Perthshire seats would mean a genuine liking of the Scottish Tories, as opposed to a Get Gordon Out vote, so I think that’s unlikely.

Final tally, three or four seats.

Added 10pm, May 12th:
Welcome to readers from Iain Dale’s Daley Dozen post (and thanks Iain, for the link). You can stay up to date with The Scottish Sketch by subscribing to the RSS feed or bookmaring the site (scottishsketch.wordpress.com). Thanks for your time, hope to see you around in the near future.