GENERAL ELECTION 2019 – SCOTLAND ANALYSIS

Friday 13 December, 2019
SNP election 2019

It was an historic night across the UK as the 2019 General Election saw the SNP secure an increased number of seats, and the Conservative Party secure a majority in Westminster. 

Our Public Affairs team look at what it means for Scotland.

Key results

  • The SNP increased their seats in Scotland by 13, with the Conservatives losing seven seats and Labour six.
  • Voter turnout in Scotland increased by 1.6% to 68.1%, slightly higher than the UK’s (67.2%).
  • Ian Murray is once again the only Labour MP in Scotland, holding on to his seat in Edinburgh South.
  • Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson narrowly lost her East Dunbartonshire seat to the SNP by just 149 votes.
  • SNP’s vote share increased by 8.1%, largely at the expense of Labour and the Conservatives. Vote share for the Lib Dem’s increased by 2.8%, however, they only managed to retain four seats.
  • Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, Lesley Laird, lost her seat to Neale Hanvey, an SNP candidate who was suspended over allegations he made anti-Semitic posts on social media. Hanvey will now sit as an independent MP until a disciplinary process is completed.
  • The UK’s narrowest marginal seat, Fife North East saw the SNP’s Stephen Gethins lose to the Liberal Democrats.

Analysis

Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP has secured another historic landslide in Scotland, far exceeding their own expectations and cementing the party, even further, as the dominant force in Scottish politics winning 48 of 59 seats. Turnout was up in Scotland, which was the key to her party’s success, with them mobilising many of the voters who stayed at home in 2017. The Tories have seen them lose just over half of their seats, and it has been a complete wipe out of Labour, with only Ian Murray surviving. Scotland also provided the biggest ‘Portillo moment’ with Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson losing her seat to young cancer survivor Amy Callaghan. The only loss for the SNP on the night was their Foreign Affairs spokesperson Stephen Gethins in North East Fife to the Lib Dems which will be keenly felt by the party.


Looking to the West, the SNP retook all seats in the Glasgow from Labour, and in the North East the Tories lost some of their seats there, with others clinging on by a few hundred votes. Perhaps most surprising was the vastly increased majority for the SNP in many seats, which confounded all of the previous polling in the country.

The Conservative message of ‘no to a second indyref’ was their central campaign theme and it was thoroughly rejected by voters. Now with only 6 seats and none of them required for Boris Johnson’s majority their moral mandate to block the referendum in Scotland is hugely reduced. The SNP Westminster’s Leader Ian Blackford, wasted no time in calling for a referendum, and the First Minister has made clear this result gives her a continued mandate to push for it. Although she has recognised in comments that tactical voting means this increase does not necessarily translate into support for independence.

With a strong conservative majority South of the border and a Prime Minister with no intention of allowing one, we are headed for a constitutional crisis. Continued refusal to grant one will very likely boost and solidify the SNP’s support for the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.
In a speech this afternoon the First Minister said that next week she will publish a detailed democratic case for the transfer of power to have a legal referendum to the Scottish Parliament. This has been the longstanding policy of the party, but given the current refusal of the UK Government to grant a ‘Section 30’ which would allow for a referendum, this is the next step available to the Scottish Government.
Also with an enlarged group at Westminster, and the Lib Dems leaderless, the SNP will by default be the main ‘remain’ voice in the Commons. With the Conservatives set to push the legislation through with great haste against the stated will of the Scottish Parliament, expect a very stormy finish of this year and for the year ahead.

Seat changes – some familiar faces, and some new faces

The SNP landslide has returned some familiar faces, especially from the 2015 General Election intake. Owen Thompson returns for Midlothian – expect him to take a front bench role, or perhaps he will make a return the Whips Office. Kirsten Oswald, Allan Dorrans, Margret Ferrier, Anne McLaughlin and John Nicolson also from that class make a return.

New to the House but not to front line politics, Kenny MacAskill, the longest ever-serving Justice Minister in Scotland comes out of retirement. Not afraid to disagree in his regular newspaper column with the party’s leadership, expect him to shake it up on the benches. Same too for Alyn Smith, the high-profile SNP MEP, who will almost certainly head straight to the front bench, perhaps to replace Stephen Gethins in the FCO/Europe spokesperson role.

Newbies from the SNP include Steve Bonnar, Dave Doogan and Amy Callaghan, who claimed the biggest upset in the UK on the night defeating Jo Swinson. New too is Richard Thomson, who as a local councillor and long-time SNP party employee worked the Gordon seat very hard.

The only new MP from a party that isn’t the SNP is Wendy Chamberlain of the Lib Dems. A former police officer, she previously lost by only 2 votes in 2017.

Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock

  • SNP gain from Conservatives
  • Allan Dorans (SNP) defeated Martin Dowey (Con) with 43.5% of the vote (by 2,329 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 9.4%
  • Turnout was down 0.1%, compared to 2017
    Midlothian
  • SNP gain from Labour
  • Owen Thompson (SNP) regained his seat from Danielle Rowley (Lab) with 41.5% of the vote (by 5,705 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 7.1%
  • Turnout increased by 2.1%, compared to 2017

East Lothian

  • SNP gain from Labour
  • Kenny MacAskill (SNP) defeated Martin Whitfield (Lab) with 36.2% of the vote (by 3,886 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 5.6%
  • Turnout increased by 1.1%, compared to 2017

Renfrewshire East

  • SNP gain from Conservatives
  • Kirsten Oswald (SNP) defeated Paul Masterton (Con) with 44.9% of the vote (by 5,426 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 13.7%
  • Turnout was down 0.1%, compared to 2017

Rutherglen & Hamilton West

  • SNP gain from Labour
  • Margaret Ferrier (SNP) defeated Ged Killen (Lab) with 44.2% of the vote (by 5,230 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 7.2%
  • Turnout increased by 3%, compared to 2017

Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill

  • SNP gain from Labour
  • Steven Bonnar (SNP) defeated Hugh Gaffney (Lab) with 47% of the vote (by 5,624 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 7.9%
  • Turnout increased by 2.8%, compared to 2017

East Dunbartonshire

  • SNP gain from Lib Dem
  • Amy Callaghan (SNP) defeated Lib Dem Leader Jo Swinson with 37.1% of the vote (by 149 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 6.8%
  • Turnout increased by 2.1%, compared to 2017

Glasgow North East

  • SNP gain from Labour
  • Anne McLaughlin (SNP) defeated Paul Sweeney (Lab) with 46.9% of the votes (by 2,548 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 4.7%
  • Turnout was up 2.5% compared to 2017

Stirling

  • SNP gain from Conservatives
  • Alyn Smith (SNP) defeated Stephen Kerr (Con) with 51.1% of the votes (by 9,254 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 14.4%
  • Turnout was up 2.5% compared to 2017

Ochil & South Perthshire

  • SNP gain from Conservatives
  • John Nicholson (SNP) regained his seat from Luke Graham (Con) with 46.5% of the votes (by 4,498 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 11.2%
  • Turnout was up 2.8% compared to 2017

Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath

  • SNP gain from Labour
  • Neale Hanvey (Independent) defeated Lesley Laird (Lab) with 35.2% of the votes (by 1,243 votes)
  • SNP vote share decreased by 1%, Labour vote share decreased by 4.2%
  • Turnout was up 1% compared to 2017

Fife North East

  • Lib Dem gain from SNP
  • Wendy Chamberlain (Lib Dem) defeated Stephen Gethins (SNP) with 43.1% of the votes (by 1,316 votes)
  • Lib Dem vote share increased by 10.2%
  • Turnout was up 4.1% compared to 2017

Angus

  • SNP gain from Conservatives
  • Dave Doogan (SNP) defeated Kirstene Hair (Con) with 49.1% of the vote (by 3,795 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 10.6%
  • Turn out increased by 4.5% compared to 2017

Aberdeen South

  • SNP gain from Conservatives
  • Stephen Flynn (SNP) defeated Douglas Lumsden (Con) with 44.7% of the vote (by 3,990 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 13.2%
  • Turnout increased by 1%, compared to 2017

Gordon

  • SNP gain from Conservatives
  • Richard Thomson (SNP) defeated Colin Clark (Con) with 42.7% of the vote (by 819 votes)
  • SNP vote share increased by 6.9%
  • Turnout increased by 1.9%, compared to 2017

Luke Skipper is our Head of Public Affairs. Follow him on Twitter.