Friday, May 04, 2007

Some thoughts on the future

The SNP are now the largest Party in Scotland, for the first time ever. Regardless of any other events, this is a big thing, fifty years of Labour certainty has evaporated, and the fact that Labour came second in the Constituency Vote but still ended up with a majority of Constituencies shows why we need to be thankful for PR, why electoral reform for the Councils was right, and why change for Westminster can't come soon enough. But now they have to form a government: they need the LibDems and the Greens, there is no way round this. Unless they can cobble together support for policies on an issue-by-issue basis with every other party except Labour, who would probably resist any SNP measure outright. The question now is: where goes the independence referendum? There are a few activists wondering if whether or not insisting on this is the wisest thing given the circumstances.

Labour could still form a government, but either way, Jack McConnell is coming to the end of his leadership. He is damaged: he will be viewed at the man who lost Scotland for Labour. But the Party is still in a fairly secure position. They still have a vice-like grip on Lanarkshire , and hold nine of the ten Glasgow Constituencies. They still control North Lanarkshire and Glasgow councils. They held on to Edinburgh Central and Aberdeen Central. The loss of three Constituencies in Mid Scotland & Fife was balanced out by winning three Regional seats there, maintaining a presence. They held on to their constituencies in the South, only lost one in the West and won back Strathkelvin & Bearsden. They still have all their big hitters in the Parliament. However, the spotlight will slowly turn to Westminster, where Labour's grip is looking like it will weaken. As things get worse there, that could affect the Party more generally, weakening Scottish Labour. The big problem is that just as the SNP were in danger of being seen only as a force north of the Tay, Labour is now primarily a force around the Clyde.

The Tories end this election with one MSP fewer than in 2003, but they potentially hold influence and Goldie has done well. Coming third in Stirling will be traumatic, as will Murray Tosh's failure to win Dumfries, but coming within a whisker in Eastwood, and holding on to Galloway & Upper Nithsdale, combined with the against-the-odds win in Roxburgh & Berwickshire, shows that the Party is stronger than we thought. The question is, given the 'lack of obvious talent' in the group, can new Members John Lamont, Gavin Brown, Liz Smith and Jackson Carlaw add anything? And with focus shifting, what prospects does the Party have for gains at Westminster?

This is an electoral disaster for the LibDems, the so-called 'Party of Real Momentum'. They have actually gone backwards, and the balance of power does not rest with them and them alone, as it might otherwise have done. Nicol Stephen clearly does not have the charisma and the persolnality for the Party to run a campaign around him. It's not even clear if their place in government is 100% guaranteed. Add to that the loss of Gordon (understandable), Argyll & Bute (where one of the Party's key members has lost out) and Roxburgh & Berwickshire and the story is one of a Party in trouble. The Party has a reason to cheer in Dunfermline West but even so, they need a period of reflection, and it's clear that Jim Wallace was right to leave when the going was good.

Then the Greens. This is not the disaster it appears. They may have lost a number of MSPs but the overall result gives their two MSPs influence and they could well make a deal with the SNP and LibDems. Patrick Harvie owes his continued MSP status to the split between the SSP and Solidarity (their combined votes were greater than the Green vote), but Martin Bartos managed to take 12.6% of the vote and third place in Glasgow Kelvin, while the Greens have five Councillors in Glasgow and three in Edinburgh. Harvie will probably be Co-Convener before long, with Robin Harper easing out of politics, though it's hard to see who will join him as the female Co-Convener. Shiona Baird's position is weaker now she has lost her seat, as is Eleanor Scott's. Ruth Cameron is seen as a rising star, but her rather steep gradient might not go down all that well with some. And in any case, with no national platform, what good is the Convenership? Nevertheless, the Greens will recover.

The same cannot be said of the SSP and Solidarity. They disappear into the night: even Tommy Sheridan has lost his seat. The parties have one Councillor each: Solidarity in Glasgow and the SSP in West Dunbartonshire. The SSP got 19,016 votes in Central Scotland four years ago; the two parties couldn't even manage 8,000 between them yesterday. Their 31,116 votes in Glasgow turned into just over 12,000 combined yesterday. What's worse is that had there been only one party, with the same vote, they would have got an MSP, at the expense of Patrick Harvie. The two parties combined lost more than two thirds of the SSP's vote in the Highlands and Islands. Their combined vote in the Lothians was just under 5,000, compared with 14,448 for the SSP in 2003, and the SSP this time, with their Leader standing in the region, came eleventh, behind the SSCUP, Solidarity, the BNP and the Socialist Labour Party! Neither Party could manage 1% in Mid Scotland and Fife or North East Scotland, Rosemary Byrne has sunk without trace in the South, and the two parties's support was less than 2.5% in the West. Tommy Sheridan has said that the Party will build up and work towards 2001, but the SSP are doomed and Solidarity is in danger of being strangled at birth.

The bigger picture is that we have no clear government, so I might keep this blog running, in case we have to do it all over again in a month...

We live in interesting times

SNP 47
Labour 46
Tories 17
LibDems 16
Greens 2
Independent 1

That's a SNP-LibDem-Green majority of 1.

Or a Labour-Tory-LibDem majority of 29.

South of Scotland

All over bar the shouting here.

Labour hold: Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley with a 9.7% swing to the SNP; Clydesdale - 5.9% swing to the SNP; Cunninghame South - 8.7% swing to the SNP; Dumfries - 2.6% swing away from the Tories; East Lothian - 12.3% swing to the SNP.

Conservatives hold Ayr with a 3.3% swing to them from Labour and Galloway & Upper Nithsdale with a 5.4% swing to them from the SNP. They also gain Roxburgh & Berwickshire with a 9.4% swing to them from the LibDems.

The LibDems somehow hold onto Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale with a majority of 598, and a swing of 0.1% to the SNP.

On the List, Christine Grahame returns, Mike Russell is back in frontline politics, Adam Ingram returns as does Alasdair Morgan. Aileen Campbell is the fifth SNP Member. The Tories get Derek Brownlee back but Murray Tosh is out. If they'd lost Galloway & Upper Nithsdale, he'd probably be in. Jim Hume comes in for the LibDems, as compensation for their loss in Roxburgh & Berwickshire. Chris Ballance is out as is Rosemary Byrne, whose Solidarity party takes only 1.2% of the vote. This is still better than the SSP's 0.4%.

West of Scotland

Still waiting on the List result, but on the Constituencies:

Labour hold: Clydebank & Milngavie, with a 2.6% swing to the SNP; Dumbarton - 8.9% swing to the SNP; Eastwood with an 891 vote majority and a 3.7% swing to the Tories; Greenock & Inverclyde with a 6.4% swing to the SNP that puts them in second place ahead of LibDem Environment Minister Ross Finnie; Paisley North with a 1.3% swing from the SNP; Paisley South with a 3.4% swing from the SNP and West Renfrewshire with a 1.3% swing to the Tories where Leader Annabel Goldie takes second place ahead of 2003 SNP Leadership Challenger Bill Wilson.

Labour gain Strathkelvin & Bearsden from Jean Turner who is beaten into third place.

SNP gain Cunninghame North by a majority of just 48 votes. Ex-SNP MSP Campbell Martin polled 4,423 votes here and very nearly split the Nationalist vote sufficiently to allow Allan Wilson back in. I warned readers about that possibility last year and it nearly came to fruition.
Iain Smith on News 24: No mandate for independence and therefore no mandate for an independence referendum.

By that logic, there's no mandate for anything, surely?
After seven hours of sleep and two catching up on what's happened, I may as well give this liveblogging another go.
Time to admit defeat. Good whatever-the-hell you call this.
Argyll & Bute have decided to pack up and go home until 3pm. So the Highlands & Islands Result will come through around 2010.

2010 AD.

Anyone else still out there?

Give me a shout if you are.
And now Aberdeen Central is to have a recount. Aaaaaaargh!

Glasgow List

Solidarity has tanned the SSP's hide on the Regional Vote, but the successful candidates are:

Bashir Ahmad (SNP)
Sandra White (SNP)
Robert Brown (LibDem)
Bob Doris (SNP)
Bill Aitken (Con)
Bill Kidd (SNP)
Patrick Harvie (Green)

So Harvie survives, but Sheridan does not. I didn't believe the maths, I assumed he'd get back in anyway, but no, he's out. In fact, I wonder if had the split not happened, the combined Solidarity/SSP vote would have been enough for them to hang onto one seat, at Patrick Harvie. We do have our first Asian MSP though, along with three other SNP MSPs, up two from 2003 but level with 1999.

We also, thankfully, have some Regional results now, and one from Edinburgh: Pentlands is still Tory. I'm not sure who, if anyone it still up, and I might give in soon, but this farce is still worth watching.
Eastwood has fallen to the Crap Computer Party.

5:21 - So have the two West Lothian seats.
Oh, of course. It's the opposition parties' fault for not letting Labour bunch the STV candidates together by party. It has to be that, but it's still too early to say whether holding two elections with two different voting systems on the same day. That makes perfect sense, McCabe.

What a twat.
Apparently Pentlands will declare in half an hour. The others are suspended until lunchtime. Mr. Eugenides is using the word 'clusterfuck' and I am inclined to agree.
Computer problems in Edinburgh. And Andy Kerr has not been unseated. I suspect I would get more entertainment by streaking up and down the street. Weather has felled the Western Isles count, and by extension the Highlands and Islands count. Strathkelvin & Bearsden have given up (rightly) and the boat has has held up the Cunninghame North count, so jeopardising the West of Scotland Count. There has been no sign of life from any of the Edinburgh seats, so that's Lothian up the spout. And the lovely screens that monitor the progress of the counting in Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale are not showing anything.

And even when votes are counted, many are being rejected at unprecedented levels. A disaster.

Down the Pan

Strathkelvin & Bearsden is now closed until 12 noon.

This is turning into the Scottish equivalent of the 'Hanging Chads'...


Labour - 8 seats
SNP - 7 seats
Tories - 1 seat
LibDem - 1 seat
Other - 1 seat
Is it my imagination, or is the guy/girl doing the ticker bored?

There's just been an instruction to viewers to make themselves another coffee, and before they suggested that Glenn Campbell was the Justin Timberlake of BBC Scotland.
The Goldie challenge in West Renfrewshire has not materialised. But neither has the SNP challenge - Trish Godman hangs on...


Blogger no longer believes I am spam. This is good.

The big news is the Dunfermline West result, I suppose.

Oh, and we could be looking at a total recount in Strathkelvin & Bearsden...

Coatbridge & Chryston: Lab Hold

Julie McAnulty is the winner of the Battle of the Health Campaigners, and saves her deposit, but Labour hold on comfortably.

Smith: 11860
SNP: 7350
Con: 2305
McAnulty: 1843
LibDem: 1519
Others: 848

Dunfermline East: Lab Hold

Alas, the delightful-looking Ewan Dow does not get in.

Eadie: 10995
SNP: 7002
Con: 3718
LibDem: 2853

Stirling: SNP Gain from Labour

Sweet Baby Jesus!!!!!!!!! Credit goes to the Eugenides network for this one...

Crawford: 10447
Jackson (Lab): 9827
Con: 8081
LibDem: 3693
Other: 577

Constituency Projection 5

Labour 36 (down 10)
SNP 23 (up 14)
Conservatives 2 (down 1)
Liberal Democrats 11 (down 2)
Independent 1 (down 1)

Angus: SNP Hold

Welsh: 15686
Con: 7443
Lab: 5032
LibDem: 3799

Midlothian: Lab Hold

Brankin: 10671
SNP: 8969
LibDem: 2704
Con: 2269
Other: 498

Gordon: SNP Gain from LibDem

Salmond: 14650
Radcliffe (LibDem): 12588
Con: 5348
Lab: 2276

He's done it. SNP supporters may now exhale.

East Lothian: Lab Hold

Gray: 12219
SNP: 9771
LibDem: 6249
Con: 6232

Note the SNP moving from 4th to 2nd.

Central Fife: SNP Gain from Labour

Marwick: 11920
May (Lab): 10754
LibDem: 2288
Con: 2003

Shetland: LibDem Hold

Scott: 6531
SNP: 1622
Con: 972
Lab 670

Worth noting that the SNP candidate was selected three days before Conference, or at least, that's when she was told she was selected...

Dumfries: Lab Hold

Murray: 13707
Con: 10868
SNP: 6306
LibDem: 2538

As I suspected. Tosh is in trouble...

Cumbernauld & Kilsyth: Lab Hold

Craigie: 12672
SNP: 10593
LibDem: 1670
Con: 1447

Seems the close majority had more to do with Andrew Wilson.

Glasgow Baillieston: Lab Hold

Curran: 9141
SNP: 5247
Con: 1276
LibDem: 1060
Malcolm Bruce is complaining that Salmond can't represent two constituencies in two different parliaments, that it would take a superhuman effort.

So what was Donald Gorrie's superpower?!

Cunninghame South: Lab Hold

Oldfather: 10270
SNP: 8102
Con: 3073
LibDem: 1977
Wales: Trish Law has consolidated her By-Election gain in Blaenau Gwent.

Constituency Projection 4

Labour 34 (down 12)
SNP 23 (up 14)
Conservatives 3 (level)
LibDems 12 (down 1)
Independent 1 (down 1)

Moray: SNP Hold

Lochhead: 15045
Con: 7121
Lab: 4580
LibDem: 3528

Dundee East: SNP Hold

Robison: 13314
Lab: 8790
Con: 2976
LibDem: 1789

A humping.
And could Bruce Crawford be about to become the MSP for Stirling. Mr. Eugenides has the goss...

And Richard Havers could well be proven right: John Lamont is ahead with half the votes counted in Roxburgh & Berwickshire.
Note to self: buy these chocolates again.
By the way, rumour has it the SNP have improved on the Regional Vote.

Labour have lost Plymouth Council to the Tories.

And why the fuck are there no results in Wales?

Constituency Projection 3

Labour 33 (down 13)
SNP 25 (up 16)
Conservatives 2 (down 1)
LibDems 12 (down 1)
Independent 1 (down 1)

Airdrie & Shotts: Lab hold

Whitefield: 11907
SNP: 10461
Con: 2370
LibDem: 1452
NHSFirst: 970

Her majority is less than the number of rejected papers. This is a massive swing.
The system has crashed in Fife.

There is a full recount of votes in South Lanarkshire.

The votes cannot get from Barra or Arran.

The number of rejected papers has skyrocketed.

And then there's Golf Club Guy.

I hereby dub this election The Great Fiasco.

Glasgow Anniesland: Lab hold

Butler: 10483
SNP: 6177
Con: 3154
LibDem: 2325

Constituency Projection 2

Labour 35 (down 11)
SNP 23 (up 14)
Conservatives 2 (down 1)
LibDems 12 (down 1)
Independent 1 (down 1)

Dundee West: SNP gain from Labour

Fitzpatrick: 10955
Labour: 9009
LibDem: 2517
Conservative: 1787

No major shock there. Three seats, 6% ish swing in each.

Glasgow Kelvin: Lab hold

McNeill: 7875
SNP: 6668
Green: 2971
LibDem: 2843
Con: 1943
Others: 1200

One wonders if the Green intervention has affected the result.

Projection: the Constituency Vote

Labour 32 (down 14)
SNP 23 (up 14)
LibDems 15 (up 2)
Conservatives 2 (down 1)
Independent 1 (down 1)

This is just a bit of fun, mind.

Motherwell & Wishaw: Lab hold

McConnell - 12574
SNP - 6636
Con - 1990
SSCUP - 1702
LibDem - 1570
SCP - 1491
Anti-Trident - 187

So McConnell's poll down, SNP vote up, Tories down a bit, LibDems up a bit.
So we have a delayed Western Isles count, an episode with a golf club in Edinburgh West, and the Motherwell & Wishaw count is perpetually '15 minutes away'.

I'm beginning to sympathise with Golf Club Guy.
Radio Scotland (via Our Scotland): Annabel Goldie is ahead...
Glasgow Kelvin: Eugenides and his contact are suggesting that the Greens have come third.
Kilmarnock & Loudoun: are the SNP way ahead? Radio Scotland think so...

Crap Joke 1

I'm like a wigwam and a teepee...

...too tense!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Stirling: Labour in third? Mr. Eugenides hears that they are, with half the votes counted...
Bollocks to it, I'm opening the crisps.

Cumbernauld could be close, though.
BBC: Motherwell & Wishaw expected in 15 mins. McConnell vote solid, as expected.
I direct your attention thusly:

Mr. Eugenides is out of Highland Park, btw. Seeing as we're all in touch thanks to his initiative, can anyone get a replacement bottle to him? Now? We'll have a whipround.
According to Mr. Eugenides, David Smith, the independent hospital campaigner in Glasgow Cathcart "is thought to have performed strongly."
Glenn Campbell: Have you got Nicol Stephen's mobile number?

Alex Salmond: He's about 20 feet from me, waiting to come into the studio.

Snap Poll 1

Should I open the crisps now?
Oooo... punchy hard-house music. Not the classic, but it'll do.
From the Greek: The lovely Ruth Davidson is suggesting on Radio Scotland that Motherwell and Wishaw may report as early as half eleven.
From Mr. Eugenides:

An SNP informer tells me that they reckon the Western Isles are in the bag, Livingston is looking very close (14th target seat for the SNP, I think) and there's a big swing in Hamilton South, which is Tom McCabe's seat.
First glass of Shloer. From my position in the dark, I understand that the Western Isles count is delayed until tomorrow lunchtime.

This is a BIG seat, this is not a good thing.
Bollocks! My lightbulb's blown!
From Our Scotland, this is Carol in Ochil:

"turnout at our polling station is looking at least 50% don't know if that will be reflected nationally. It looked hopeful, Lab lot definitely weren't out in droves (usually drop minibus loads off here)."

Oh, the anticipation

To begin with a bit of admin, the Our Scotland Election Night thread is now up, and David Farrer of Freedom and Whisky may well be hanging around online at points tonight. Even if he isn't posting, he's always well worth a read.

Bill has published his election kit. I overate this morning so as to spend the afternoon largely comatose (I needn't have bothered - I normally do anyway), and I have my own election kit. Mine is different as 1) I am teetotal and 2) I am trailer trash. Anyway, I have a bottle of Shloer (white) in the fridge. I am partial to Shloer and the only reason I don't sip on it of a Friday evening is that by drinking that and watching Ugly Betty at the same time, I would be only an operation away from womanhood. I rather enjoy being a man, so that is out. I also have a bottle of Pepsi, with all its caffeine-laden, sugary goodness to induce a state of hyperactivity that should see me through till morning. I have a bag of co-operative Sea Salt and Chardonnay Vinegar crisps (or something like that) to generate thirst (and so encourage consumption of the beverages) and a packet of Cadbury's Snaps. That's just because I haven't had chocolate today. If I'm still flagging, I shall go into the kitchen and eat the kilo of sugar that is in one of the cupboards.

Anyway, one of the big questions tonight is, 'What is the BBC's Election theme tune going to be?' I like the normal one: it conveys a sense of drama and importance, and has been in use for long enough to be a part of the election experience. Though I have a horrible feeling that it's now done on keyboards and played at an ever-higher pitch, making it shrill. Despite that, it still has the right qualities for the night: as a composition, it makes you stop what you're doing and pay attention.

In fact, there was a time when the BBC stopped using it, and opted for a piece that was better suited to some god-awful daytime programme that would doubtless be presented by Alan Titchmarsh and Nadia Sawalha. Or Eamonn Holmes and Fern Britton. But not David Dimbleby. This was during a period when no one noticed elections anyway, so no harm was done. Now that they have got interesting again, the BBC have (rightly) switched back.

The music is also superior to the opus on STV's programmes, which sounds like a section of a film where the heroine is being stalked by a murderous pervert. The addition of what sounds like heavy breathing to the composition doesn't help that image.

So the BBC, if they stick with the classic, are doing the right thing. All together now: da-dada da-dada da-daaaaaaaa (ba-ba-ba-bum) da da-daa da-daaaaa da-da-da-da-daaaaa (ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-bum)... and so on.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Big Day approaches

I'm attempting to twist my routine to allow myself to stay up until 6 without collapsing into a blubbery sleep. You can watch me lose the powers of coherence and language on here as the night unfolds, and unless we have to do this all over again in a couple of months, tomorrow night will be the swansong for this blog. MacNumpty will continue, of course.

Anyway, I'm far from the only one. As well as leaving comments here, don't forget to join the debate at Our Scotland. Bloggery will also take place at the following places:

Mr. Eugenides

Reactionary Snob

Bill Cameron

One early report from the Western Isles: it appears that Labour and the SCP have formed an unholy alliance on the Constituency vote, with the Christian party endorsing Alasdair Morrison. Given that the SCP took 7% of the vote here in the 2005 Westminster Election, this could make a difference. We shall see.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Central Scotland

Airdrie & Shotts - the Big 4 here, along with Mev Brown of NHSFirst, who has decamped to Central Scotland after originally planning to stand in the Lothians. Despite that, Labour incumbent Karen Whitefield looks the likely winner.

Coatbridge & Chryston - the Big 4, plus with Independent campaigner (and blogger) Julie McAnulty, and Gaille McCann, a former Glasgow Labour Councillor who has rather uncharitably decided to put her name forward against Julie McAnulty, despite the fact that McCann is the NHSFirst candidate, and Julie is standing on a pro-NHS, anti-PFI ticket (have I got that right, Julie?). I've had my doubts about NHSFirst in the past, and this only serves to compound them. In any case, the presence of both of these candidates makes this race far more interesting than it would otherwise have been as the numbers have this as a solid Labour win for incumbent Elaine Smith.

Cumbernauld & Kilsyth - just the Big 4, and Labour incumbent Cathie Craigie is defending a majority of just 520 against the SNP. In short, SNP candidate Jamie Hepburn has to do something incredibly stupid if he's not to get elected.

East Kilbride - just the Big 4 again. A brief shout-out goes to Dave Clark, LibDem candidate and my successor as Convener of the Edinburgh University Debates Union. The shout out over with, he hasn't got that much of a chance: this is between Health Minister Andy Kerr and the SNP's Linda Fabiani. At the moment, Fabiani looks like the winner, and with Kerr's name being mentioned as a possible successor to Jack McConnell, this will be a major scalp for the SNP.

Falkirk East - just the Big 4 here, and Labour incumbent Cathy Peattie looks like the winner. However, the SNP candidate is Annabelle Ewing, the former MP for Perth. A possible shock.

Falkirk West - just the Big 4 in a seat that defies calculation. This was Dennis Canavan's seat, but he's stepping down. Looking at Canavan-free ballot papers post 1999, Labour won the By-Election that Canavan forced by stepping down early from Westminster, and MP Eric Joyce was re-elected in 2001. Joyce was re-elected as MP for Falkirk (the successor seat) in 2005, and Labour came top in Falkirk West in the Regional Vote in 2003, so at first glance, this is appears to be a win for Dennis Goldie, the outspoken and controversial Labour candidate. However, that lead on the 2003 Regional Vote could be wiped out the SNP as this time according to current polls, especially as the candidate, Michael Matheson, has been a Regional MSP for eight years. I wasn't sure at first, but now I reckon that Matheson might just do it, especially as he has the backing of one of Canavan's key local supporters.

Hamilton North & Bellshill - the Big 4, plus an NHSFirst candidate and independent Gordon Weir. Labour incumbent Michael McMahon looks like the winner here.

Hamilton South - the Big 4 along with Independent South Lanarkshire Councillor Michael McGlynn. This has been Finance Minister Tom McCabe's seat since 1999, and it looks like it will be again after 2007.

Kilmarnock & Loudoun - just the Big 4 here, and Labour's Margaret Jamieson has a small majority, which should be overturned easily by the SNP's Willie Coffey.

Motherwell & Wishaw - in addition to the Big 4, we have an SCP candidate, a candidate from the Anti-Trident Party, and John Swinburne, the SSCUP Leader. However, seeing as the Labour candidate and incumbent is a Mr. J. McConnell, the Labour Party would probably end up with something like 10 seats nationally if the First Minister were to lose his seat.

The Regional List - aside from the Big 8, NHSFirst are standing here, with founder Mev Brown heading the list. Brown was supposed to stand in the Lothians and Gaille McCann was supposed to be Number 1 here, but the Party entered into a pact with Scottish Voice, and this was the price that Brown paid. The BNP, CPA, Publicans, SCP, Scottish Unionists, Socialist Labour and UKIP are all standing as well. The Tories' Margaret Mitchell will no doubt get re-elected, and the LibDems' Hugh O'Donnell should replace Donald Gorrie, who is retiring. Depending on the Falkirk West result, Labour will get 1 or 2 seats (John Pentland will get in, Margaret Duffy is the second), and the SNP will get 3 or 4: Alex Neil will definitely be in, Michael Matheson will be an MSP one way or another, Christina McKelvie should get in as well, and John Wilson should also get elected.


Anniesland - just the 4 here, and a likely return for Labour's Bill Butler.

Baillieston - in addition to the Big 4, Scottish Christian Party founder George Hargreaves has put his name forward for election. This is the constituency of Minister for Parliamentary Business Margaret Curran - she of the excitable hands - and it looks like her hands will be moving furiously in the Parliamentary Chamber once again.

Cathcart - alongside the Big 4 we have independent hospital campaigner David Smith. Hospital campaigners do odd things to election results, but there was one in this Constituency in 2003, it was Pat Lally, and he mustered only 2,419 votes and fifth place. Granted, he did beat the LibDem candidate, but that's scant consolation. So Charlie Gordon of Labour looks the likely winner.

Govan - as well as the Big 4 we have Asif Nasir standing as an Independent, and we also have a Communist candidate, which I was going to link to, but I don't want MI5 on my back. Anyway, Gordon Jackson is, amazingly, the incumbent Labour candidate, but his challenger is (again) Nicola Sturgeon, who goes into this Election as the SNP Deputy Leader, so between that, the general malaise with Labour, the small swing required for her to win it, and the fact that Gordon Jackson is Gordon Jackson, I'm putting this down as an SNP win.

Kelvin - as well as the Big 4, the Greens have put a candidate forward here - this is a shock move, as they have been reluctant to nominate Constituency candidates in the past, and if they were going to start, Edinburgh would be the logical place to do so - along with an SCP candidate and Independent Glasgow City Councillor Niall Walker. Pauline McNeill is the Labour incumbent, but the numbers have this going to Sandra White of the SNP. However, the presence of a Green here could alter the dynamic of the contest.

Maryhill - just the Big 4 here, with Tourism Minister Patricia Ferguson likely to return to Holyrood.

Pollok - just the Big 4 again here, which will throw the 6,016 people who voted for Tommy Sheridan in 2003. It's hard to guess what their destination will be (though it probably won't be the Tories), so going of the strengths of the main parties, it looks like Johann Lamont will hold this for Labour.

Rutherglen - the Big 4 plus an SCP candidate. Janis Hughes is standing down, so the Labour candidate is James Kelly. He's the likely winner.

Shettleston - the SCP have a candidate here as well as the Big 4. This is safe Labour, though, so Frank McAveety will be back.

Springburn - again, the Big 4 plus the SCP. This looks like safe Labour territory, and Paul Martin - the son of Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons - is the likely victor.

The Regional List - the Big 8 are all here, along with Scottish Voice, the SCP (as you'd expect, given their presence in the Constituencies), the Scottish Unionists, Socialist Labour, UKIP, the BNP, the CPA, the Communist candidate, Alastair McConnachie of Independent Green Voice, Neil Craig of the 9% Growth Party, a Publican Candidate and a Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers candidate. There are also three Independents, James Cruickshank (the man responsible for 'The Digger'), Muhammad Shoaib and Asif Nasir. This election is the first electoral test for Tommy Sheridan's new party Solidarity, and while polling numbers aren't favourable, I expect Sheridan to be one of the Regional MSPs, along with three SNP MSPs (Bashir Ahmad, who will become the first ever MSP from an ethnic minority, Bob Doris and Bill Kidd). Robert Brown of the LibDems, Bill Aitken of the Tories and Patrick Harvie of the Greens are all on course for re-election.

Highlands & Islands

Argyll & Bute - just the Big 4 here. George Lyon of the LibDems is likely to (just) fend off a challenge from the SNP's Jim Mather.

Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross - the Big 4 plus Independent James Campbell. LibDem incumbent Jamie Stone looks like the favourite here.

Inverness East, Nairn & Lochaber - just the 4 here, with Fergus Ewing likely to hold onto his seat.

Moray - again, just the Big 4, and it's hard to see past Richard Lochhead holding onto the seat.

Orkney - along with the Big 4, Barry Johnson is an Independent candidate. This was former LibDem Leader Jim Wallace's Constituency, but he's standing down now, though Liam McArthur is likely to hold onto the seat for the Liberal Democrats.

Ross, Skye & Inverness West - the Big 4 are standing, as well as a Scottish Enterprise Party candidate. This is a fairly safe LibDem seat, and John Farquhar Munro is likely to get back in.

Shetland - just the usual suspects here, and LibDem Deputy Leader and Transport Minister Tavish Scott is pretty much certain to return to Holyrood.

Western Isles - again, just the Big 4, and if any seat in the Region is worth watching, it's this one. Labour's Alasdair Morrison is the incumbent, but he held it in 2003 with a majority of just 720, and the Party lost the seat at Westminster to the SNP, so Alasdair Allan must surely be the favourite.

The Regional List - as well as the Big 8, Scottish Voice are on the ballot paper, along with the BNP, the CPA, the Publicans, the SCP, the SEP, Socialist Labour and UKIP. In terms of winners and losers, Labour's likely loss of the Western Isles will be compensated by regaining the third List seat that they lost in 2003, so Peter Peacock will be re-elected, Rhoda Grant will make a return to the Parliament - she was third on the List in 2003 - and David Stewart, former MP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber will get in as well. The SNP will see Jim Mather and Rob Gibson re-elected, and the Conservatives will retain their two seats, allowing a return to Holyrood for Mary Scanlon, who stood down to contest the Moray By-Election, and re-election for Jamie McGrigor.


Edinburgh Central - just the Big 4 here, and this seat is notable for the fact that all four candidates are women. Sarah Boyack might just hold on here, but she faces strong challenges from both Siobhan Mathers of the LibDems and Shirley-Anne Somerville of the SNP. Unless opponents to Labour rally round one or the other of those two, it looks like the vote will be split sufficiently to allow Boyack through the middle.

Edinburgh East and Musselburgh - again, just the Big 4. Incumbent MSP Susan Deacon has stood down, and Labour's candidate to replace her is Norman Murray. The SNP challenger is Regional MSP Kenny MacAskill. The numbers say a Labour win, but be careful: the last time a sitting MSP stood down and his party's candidate faced a challenge from a sitting Regional MSP, the majority got slashed to less than 600 votes. This could be closer than some think, and if Labour have a bad night, it could produce a surprise.

Edinburgh North & Leith - still just the Big 4. Former Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm is defending it, and should survive. The SNP look like the strongest challengers, but the LibDems will try to capitalise on their performance in the 2005 Westminster Election. Again, a split opposition will prove useful for Chisholm.

Edinburgh Pentlands - another seat with just the Big 4. It looks like former Tory Leader David McLetchie will stay on here.

Edinburgh South - just the big 4. Mike Pringle will probably consolidate his 158-vote majority, but it may well have more to do with a weakened Labour performance than a strong LibDem one.

Edinburgh West - finally, an Independent! John Gibb is up against the Big 4. The incmbent is LibDem Margaret Smith, and it looks like she'll be re-elected.

Linlithgow - just the Big 4 again: Mary Mulligan is the incumbent, SNP Shadow Education Minister Fiona Hyslop is the challenger, and it looks like a Hyslop win right now.

Livingston - the Big 4 plus a candidate from Action to Save St. John's Hospital. Bristow Muldoon is defending his seat, but he'll face a strong challenge from Angela Constance of the SNP, who looks like the winner. But the presence of a hospital campaigner could upset things: could he split the anti-Labour vote, or could he take more votes from Labour? Time will tell.

Midlothian - the Big 4 along with a candidate from the 'Had Enough Party'. It looks like Communities Minister Rhona Brankin will hold onto her seat.

The Regional List - has produced a ballot paper too large for the ordinary counting machines. We have the Big 8, we have the Had Enough Party, Scottish Voice, Socialist Labour and UKIP. There's the BNP, the CPA and the SCP. The Publican Party have a candidate, and Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers have two. The SEP have a candidate, as do Adam Lyal's Witchery Tour Party. Margo MacDonald is seeking re-election, while the other Independents are Alex Scott, John Wilson and Duncan Thorp. Assuming that Kenny MacAskill doesn't pull off the win in Edinburgh East & Musselburgh, he'll be on the List along with Ian McKee and Stefan Tymkewycz. My numbers suggest that Shirley-Anne Somerville will get in too, but she's the seventh person to do so and my numbers don't project a win for Margo MacDonald, who surely will be re-elected. So, sadly for Shirley-Anne and the SNP, the Party will have only three Regional Members. Labour will gain one in Lord Foulkes, the Tories' Gavin Brown will be elected, and the Greens will get Robin Harper re-elected.

Mid Scotland & Fife

Central Fife - no major surprises here: it's just the Big 4. The SNP's Tricia Marwick looks like the favourite for this seat, at the expense of Labour incumbent Christine May. This used to be former First Minister Henry McLeish's seat, but those days are long gone.

Dunfermline East - just the Big 4 here, and Helen Eadie's position looks fairly safe.

Dunfermline West - along with the Big 4, Susan Archibald of Scottish Voice has made an appearance. Despite the LibDem win in the Dunfermline & West Fife By-Election, this looks like a pretty solid Labour seat, though second place last time around went to an Independent who isn't trying again. If Scott Barrie can win back just a few of that Independent's 4,584 votes, he should be safe.

Kirkcaldy - just the Big 4 here, and Labour's Marilyn Livingstone looks like holding on, despite a strong challenge from the SNP's Christopher Harvie. For Labour to lose this seat would be a huge embarrassment to Gordon Brown, who is, after all, the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

North East Fife - the Big 4 plus Independent Tony Campbell. LibDem incumbent Iain Smith looks like keeping his seat.

North Tayside - just the Big 4 again. Former SNP Leader John Swinney looks like the winner. The main challenger is Tory Deputy Leader Murdo Fraser.

Ochil - this seat was Presiding Officer George Reid's, but he's standing down and his last act as PO will be to oversee the swearing in of the MSPs and the election of his successor. This was a Lab/SNP marginal in 1999, and Reid won it for the SNP in 2003, helped in no small part by the then MSP Richard Simpson's outburst that striking firefighters were 'fascist bastards'. The numbers have Keith Brown holding onto this for the SNP, but is that based on support for his Party or his predecessor? We shall see.

Perth - the Big 4 plus the Free Scotland Party. Former SNP Deputy Leader Roseanna Cunningham only just held onto this seat in 2003, but looks like securing her position again this time round.

Stirling - the Big 4 plus the Peace Party. Sylvia Jackson looks like keeping the seat for Labour.

The Regional List - the Big 8, plus Scottish Voice, UKIP, Socialist Labour, the BNP, CPA and SCP. Also the Free Scotland Party and the Publican Party. Right now, the SNP look like getting three seats (incumbent Bruce Crawford along with Christopher Harvie and Roderick Campbell), the Tories two (Fraser and Liz Smith, so Ted Brocklebank is in trouble), Labour one (John Park) and the LibDems one (Alex Cole-Hamilton, who came above sitting MSP Andrew Arbuckle in the rankings).

North East Scotland

Aberdeen Central - just the Big 4 here. The current numbers have us saying goodbye to Lewis Macdonald, who's likely to be defeated by the SNP's Karen Shirron.

Aberdeen North - again, just the Big 4. Elaine Thomson is trying to win back the seat she lost in 2003, but Brian Adam is likely to hold onto it for the SNP.

Aberdeen South - while I don't wish to play on stereotypes, it's telling that only the four main parties have been willing to stump up the £500 deposit in the three city seats. Anyway, I now have to brace myself for a wave of angry e-mails, but in the meantime let me tell you that the incumbent MSP is LibDem Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen. He's going to hold on.

Angus - just the Big 4 here. Andrew Welsh is likely to keep his seat for the SNP.

Banff & Buchan - again, I can't see much happening: just the Big 4 are standing and Stewart Stevenson is pretty safe.

Dundee East - the usual suspects again. Shona Robison won this seat by a whisker in 2003, and she looks like consolidating her hold this time around. Her challenger is Iain Luke, former MP for the Constituency who was defeated by Robison's husband, Stewart Hosie, in 2005.

Dundee West - just the Big 4 again, and with Kate Maclean standing down, Labour's candidate is Jill Shimi. However, the winner of this seat looks likely to be the SNP's Joe Fitzpatrick.

Gordon - the Big 4, along with a candidate from the Scottish Enterprise Party and two independents: Donald Marr and Dave Mathers. The numbers say a Nora Radcliffe win, but the SNP Candidate is one Mr. A. Salmond, who happens to be SNP Leader, and is on the Regional part of every ballot paper as 'Alex Salmond for First Minister'. Some have accused the SNP of personality, presidential-style politics, but if his first name didn't begin with the first letter of the alphabet, I don't think the SNP would be doing this. Basically, I'm ignoring my numbers and going with my gut: Salmond will be MSP for Gordon on May 4.

West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine - the Big 4 here again. It's safe Mike Rumbles territory.

The Regional List - aside from the Big 8, the BNP, CPA, SCP, Socialist Labour and UKIP are all having ago, along with NHSFirst and the SEP. It looks like Labour will end up with 3 MSPs (The sitting Richard Baker and Marlyn Glen, along with Kevin Hutchens), 2 Tories (incumbents Alex Johnstone and Nanette Milne, meaning that fellow Tory Ian Davidson is in jeopardy) and depending on the outcome in Gordon, 1-2 SNP MSPs (Salmond if he needs it, Maureen Watt either way) and 0-1 LibDems (Alison MacInnes if Nora Radcliffe loses). This means that one Party Leader will not be in Holyrood: Green Co-Convener Shiona Baird.

South of Scotland

Ayr - Just the Big 4 here, and John Scott looks like holding the seat for the Tories.

Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley - the Big 4 plus a candidate from the Equal Parenting Alliance and Independent Candidate Hugh Hill. This looks like a win for Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson.

Clydesdale - the Big 4 again here. It's looking like a close-run thing between Labour incumbent Karen Gillon and SNP challenger Aileen Campbell. The national figures currently have Gillon holding on, but only just.

Cunninghame South - nothing of note here, just the usual suspects challenging and it's a fairly safe Labour seat. Irene Oldfather will probably be back in on May 4.

Dumfries - just the Big 4. This is one of the few seats where the Tories are the main challengers, and their candidate is Murray Tosh. Despite the chagrin shown by one reader of this blog, I still see Elaine Murray as hanging on by the skin of her teeth, unless the Labour campaign gets any worse, or the Tories find some national momentum.

East Lothian - just the usual four again. John Home Robertson is standing down and Labour's proposed replacement, former Edinburgh Pentlands MSP Iain Gray, is the likely winner.

Galloway & Upper Nithsdale - the Big 4 plus the delightfully named Sandy Preposterous Richardson. The current figures see the SNP's Alasdair Morgan winning the seat back from Conservative Alex Fergusson, who defeated Morgan in 2003.

Roxburgh & Berwickshire - the Big 4 plus musician Jesse Rae. It looks like a fairly safe hold for LibDem Euan Robson.

Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale - the Big 4 here. Jeremy Purvis is the incumbent, he has a wafer-thin majority over SNP Candidate (and Regional MSP before dissolution) Christine Grahame. Derek Brownlee, the Tory candidate has been a Regional MSP at Holyrood since Mundell's resignation in 2005, but I can't see past a Grahame victory at this stage.

The Regional List - the Big 8 are all here, along with the BNP, the Christian People's Alliance and the Scottish Christian Party, Scottish Voice, Socialist Labour, and UKIP. Paddy Scott Hogg is standing as an Independent. It's looking like 4 SNP Members: a return for 2004 Leadership Contender Mike Russell, re-election for Adam Ingram, and election for Aileen Campbell and Aileen Orr. They'll be joined by Tories Derek Brownlee and John Lamont (so Murray Tosh is in trouble), and LibDem Jim Hume.

West of Scotland

Clydebank & Milngavie - only the Big 4 are standing here. On current standings, Des McNulty will get back into Holyrood.

Cunninghame North - As well as the Big 4, Campbell Martin is standing. Martin was elected as an SNP MSP last time, but was expelled from the Party in 2004. The numbers would suggest that Kenneth Gibson, the SNP's candidate and former Glasgow MSP, will win, but Martin's intervention could jeopardise that. However, the SSP aren't fielding a Constituency candidate, so that might be a more logical source for Martin's votes.

Dumbarton - There has been no challenge to Jackie Baillie from disgruntled ex-Labour Councillors. There is, however, a candidate from the Scottish Jacobite Party. Anyway, Jackie Baillie should be fairly safe here on current numbers.

Eastwood - The Big 4 plus Independent Councillor Frank McGee. Ken McIntosh should be returned, but there are two important things to look out for: firstly, this seat, once the Tories' safest in Scotland, will be a good bellweather of Tory fortunes. If they do well here, they have cause for optimism, but if they weaken the Party is doomed. Secondly, the SNP candidate is Stewart Maxwell, who was a Regional MSP before Dissolution. This could give him an increased profile, and more votes. Could he be a viable challenger for the seat (or its successor) in 2011?

Greenock & Inverclyde - Just the big 4 here. Labour's Duncan McNeill to survive a chalenge from Environment Minister Ross Finnie.

Paisley North - Along with the Big 4, the SSP are fielding a candidate here in Iain Hogg. Hogg is a former Labour Councillor who left the Party in disgust, while Plott is a former SSP Candidate. Wendy Alexander's position is weak, and recent polls have her losing her seat, but the SSP presence could end up saving her.

Paisley South - Just the Big 4. Hugh Henry is in real trouble here, and we could well see a return to Holyrood for Fiona McLeod, a Regional MSP in the 1999-2003 Parliament.

Strathkelvin & Bearsden - The Big 4, along with incumbent Independent Jean Turner, and a Scottish Christian Party candidate. At one point, I would have said that this seat will go to Labour's David Whitton, but Labour's current weakness in the polls makes that pretty doubtful. At present, Turner looks like winning re-election.

West Renfrewshire - Just the Big 4. This promises to be an interesting contest. Deputy Presiding Officer is under threat, primarily from Bill Wilson, who challenged John Swinney for the SNP Leadership in 2003 and based on current projections would take the seat. However, the Tory challenger is Party Leader Annabel Goldie. Her predecessor managed to take Edinburgh Pentlands in 2003, and the result here will be a mark of her personal standing and performance. If she doesn't at least increase her vote, she's in trouble.

The Regional Vote - all the Parties with representation in Holyrood (the Big 8) are fielding candidates. They're joined on the Ballot Paper by Scottish Voice, the BNP, the Christian People's Alliance, who will be fighting with the Scottish Christian Party for the same vote, the Save our NHS Group, the Jacobites (well, one Jacobite), the Scottish Unionist Party, the Socialist Equality Party, the Socialist Labour Party (that's four Socialist Parties - how many does the West need?!) and UKIPScotland. On current figures, we're looking at two Tories (Goldie and Jackson Carlaw), two LibDems (Finnie and Gordon Macdonald), and depending on the outcome of Paisley North, 1-2 Labour MSPs (Stuark Clark with Marie Rooney) and 1-2 SNP MSPs (Maxwell and former Central Scotland MSP Gil Paterson).

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Poll of Polls Week Ending 8 April

The same caveats apply, especially in a week where one poll forecast a Labour lead while another forecast a double-digit SNP lead over Labour. Luckily, these pretty much balance out, falling into line with the SNP 5%(ish) average lead. Here are my results based on this week's publications:

SNP 50 (27 Constituencies, 23 Regional)
Labour 43 (31 + 12)
LibDem 18 (12 + 6)
Conservative 15 (2 + 13)
Green 2 (0 + 2)
Independent 1 (1 + 0)

Again, it's still hard to calculate the impact of the SSCUP and Solidarity, as well as local candidacies. Also, it looks like the SNP are in with a shout of taking Falkirk West, which I've normally allocated to Labour. But taking my figures:

There would be 85 men and 44 women in the new Parliament.

There would be 39 first-time MSPs (including two ex-MPs: George Foulkes and David Stewart), and 8 former MSPs returning to Holyrood, resulting in 47 changes to the list of Members.

Health Minister Andy Kerr would lose his seat to Linda Fabiani.

Nicola Sturgeon would gain Glasgow Govan.

Alex Salmond would be elected as a Regional MSP for North East Scotland, a status that Green Co-Convener Shiona Baird would lose.

Both Deputy Presiding Officers - Trish Godman and Murray Tosh - would lose their seats. Godman would lose her seat to Bill Wilson, who challenged John Swinney for the SNP Leadership in 2003. However, the poll in today's Mail on Sunday would see Tosh win Dumfries, so he's still in play.

Wendy Alexander would lose her seat to Andy Doig, and Education Minister Hugh Henry would lose his seat to Fiona McLeod.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Poll of Polls Week Ending 1 April

I've posted this on the second for the avoidance of doubt! Anyway, taking a rough average of the polls last week, my own calculations yield the following results:

SNP 49 (28 Constituencies, 21 Regional)
Labour 41 (34 + 7)
LibDem 17 (9 + 8)
Conservative 14 (2 + 12)
Greens 7 (all regional)
SSP 1 (regional)

Obviously, it's hard at this stage to examine the impact of Solidarity and the SSCUP, as well as Independents (one of whom is a reader) so I reckon that the final tally might look slightly different. Chances are that Margo MacDonald will get in, so it may well be SNP 48 (28 + 20) rather than 49. I've also conjectured the Falkirk West figure and I'm assuming that it will revert to character for the time being.

Anyway, assuming that my figures are accurate:

There would be 86-88 men (I still have a few holes in my candidate lists) and 41-43 women in the new Parliament.

There would be 38 first-time MSPs (including one former MP, David Stewart), and 8 former MSPs returning to Holyrood, resulting in 46 changes to the list of Members.

Health Minister Andy Kerr would lose his seat to Linda Fabiani.

Nicola Sturgeon would gain Glasgow Govan.

Alex Salmond would gain Gordon.

Shiona Baird (Co-Convener of the Greens) would lose her seat.

Both Deputy Presiding Officers - Trish Godman and Murray Tosh - would lose their seats. Godman would lose her seat to Bill Wilson, who challenged John Swinney for the SNP Leadership in 2003.

Wendy Alexander would lose her seat to Andy Doig, and Education Minister Hugh Henry would lose his seat to Fiona McLeod.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Campaign Headlines: 31 March

Labour and the LibDems announce plans to end all tolls on the Tay, and most on the Forth, despite voting against similar plans in February.

McConnell: "Five weeks to save Devolution"

Central Scotland: former Glasgow Labour Councillor Gaille McCann to stand in Central Scotland for Mev Brown's NHSFirst Party. This will come as a blow to Julie McAnulty, who is standing as an Independent on the Regional List, as well as in Coatbridge & Chryston, and now sees her potential Regional votes split.