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.