SNP win in Glasgow East

The result:

SNP 11,277 43.1% (+26.1%)
Labour 10,912 41.7% (-19.0)
Conservative 1,639 6.3% (-0.6)
Liberal Democrat 915 3.5% (-8.3)

Majority 365 1.4%
Turnout 42.3% (-6.0)

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This entry was posted in Parliamentary by-elections.


  • Bad result for the Lib Dems. The third party squeeze line doesn’t ring true given the Tories didn’t get hit so much. What happened?

  • Richard Church 25th Jul '08 - 9:12am

    I would read no more than this than Labour losing their deposit in Newbury & Christchurch- and going on to win the General Election in 1997.

    Our supporters who wanted to give the Government a kicking voted SNP. Scottish unionist Tories would finder it harder to vote for the nationalists.

  • From the outside this looks like yet another policy free by-election from the Lib Dems.

    We had a good candidate who was given nothing to say. When you know from the start that you are not going to win, the least you can do is make your case.

    Where was the we can cut crime campaign? where was the green tax switch? where was electoral reform? Where was “make it happen” ? instead of any vision, it seemed it was all about the local fire station.

    If you don’t want your vote to be squeezed, then you have to get people to vote for you because they agree with what your saying and want to support that message by voting for it.

  • Well, I reckon the one absolutely dominant fact of the by election was Labour’s – and Gordon Brown’s – unpopularity, and very little can be concluded from the result otherwise.

    Admittedly it’s curious that the Tory vote held up better than ours – maybe someone with local knowledge can explain – but both their and our numbers are very small anyway. And no one is paying any attention to who came third.

  • What an appalling result for the Conservatives.

    In the 1960s and 1970s, the Tories actually ran Glasgow City Council for brief periods, and had two MPs there.

    Voters in Henley may be showering Cameron with love, but they aint doing it in Glasgow.

  • Grammar Police 25th Jul '08 - 10:10am

    There could be a number of reasons why the Tory vote only fell slightly – probably the biggest reason is shown by the fact that the Tories are hugely up in the polls compared to 2005 and the Lib Dems are down by a few percent.

    I would suspect that some of the anti-Labour vote that came to the Lib Dems in 2005 has drifted to the SNP because they were best-placed to win, and also because the SNP are still largely popular (the meaner would say, “populist”) in Holyrood*. I think this was exacerbated in the by-election because SNP voters are probably very similar to the kinds of people who vote Liberal Democrat, and so the tactical voting is more likely to affect the LDs than the Tories – I’m sure there must be studies on this.

    *Looking at Scotland only polls – since the last Scottish Parliament elections a decent chunk of the Lib Dem vote seems to have transferred directly to the SNP.

  • Mark Wright validly asks the question

    “Lib Dem supporters were more intent on kicking Labour out than they were on making sure we got a “decent” result and saved our deposit. Why is this surprising? The question is, will they also do this at the next GE in seats where we are 3rd or less?”

    I would also add “If the ‘Labour are useless but we don’t like Tories’ vote goes in droves to the SNP, how will this affect seats where we are second or even more worryingly first?”

  • passing tory 25th Jul '08 - 10:28am

    Re: the Tory vote holding up better. I think that Richard C has it right; there are unionists who would find it extremely hard to put their cross next to the SNP candidate however much they dislike Labour.

  • Letters – it’s not quite like that in the West of Scotland. There is a core ‘orange’ vote that would never consider switching to the nationalists and given Labour’s unpopularity they were always going to stick with the ‘Conservative and Unionist’ Party.

  • This is not the first occasion that the SNP has won Parliamentary byelections in Glasgow.

    There was Margot MacDonald in 1973 and her husband, Jim Sillars, in 1989 (both Glasgow Govan, but different boundaries).

    What probably clinched Glasgow East for the SNP was the Labour candidate’s Irish surname.

  • Obviously this is a terrible result for us. I suspect we fell back on our traditional vice of excessive localism. We’re more likely to campaign to keep the Upper Muddleburgh Post Office open, rather than talking about food, fuel, infrastructure, foreign affairs or the military.

  • Dominic hannigan 25th Jul '08 - 11:15am

    My take on it is as follows, although my prediction yesterday that Labour would win with a majority of between 1 and 2 thousand may make people want to disregard what I say.

    This is a bad night for Labour, though I think there is a little bad luck with it. No one seems to have noticed the massive SSP vote, for the candidate with the same surname as Margaret Curran. I would almost venture to say that this could have cost Labour the election. When you look at the other minor party votes, the SSP was about 400 ahead of their nearest rival. It could be that more than 350 people voted SSP by mistake. It does happen!

    For the SNP, another example of Salmond’s brilliance as a political strategist. If it had not been for him continually putting his neck on the line and predicting victory, they would not have won. It was a hugely risky strategy, but one that paid off.

    For the Tories, it was pretty much a non-result. They avoided being hugely squeezed, but to be honest, in a constituency with a significant number of hard-line unionists who were never going to vote tactically for the SNP, that is to expected. Their real success is the way that Cameron has transferred the good news for the SNP in Scotland into good news for the Tories elsewhere by calling for a general election and grabbing a large amount of the press this morning.

    For us, well, it shows what happens when we don’t chuck the book at something. This is the first by-election in a wee-while where we have not chucked the kitchen sink at it, and therefore have been squeezed hugely. Perhaps it will serve as a lesson to all those who complain about the “winning here” strategy of other recent by-elections, where the squeeze has been much less severe. The one really good piece of news, is that we have clearly uncovered a phenomenal candidate in Ian Robertson, as we did in Stephen Kearney and Elizabeth Shenton. I look forward to seeing all three in Parliament in the future.

    Finally, a word on the union. This result has no bearing whatsoever. If we had been in second we would have probably won it. This was an anti labour vote, not a pro independence vote and I doubt even a pro-snp vote. I would predict that Glasgow east will have a labour MP in two years time.

  • Dominic wrote:>>When you look at the other minor party votes, the SSP was about 400 ahead of their nearest rival.

    Actually, they polled 555 and were 43 ahead of Solidarity (Tommy Sheridan’s party). Given that the SSP candidate in Glasgow East in 2005 polled just over 1,000 votes before the party split, there doesn’t seem much to suggest mass confusion – unless Labour are genuinely insisting that their voters are too stupid to ‘vote where they see the Rose’.

  • Dominic hannigan 25th Jul '08 - 12:05pm

    Ian, Yeah, thats a fair point. It was just a thought. To be fair to Labour, I have not heard them say this and I seem to be the only person who has mentioned it. It does occasionally happen. We had a ward in the locals this year with two candidates called Gill Green and that probably did make a difference to their vote. Maybe if it had been even closer, it could have made the difference this time I suppose.

  • I think it would be much easier for our supporters to cross over to the SNP to give Labour a kicking than for some of the Tory vote – in truth, in the eastend, I can’t think what the Tory demographic could be, but if it’s a denominational conservative and unionist thing they wouldn’t then vote nat.

    On top of that, the LDs have been pretty feeble in Scotland, and probably annoyed most centre ground voters up there by getting into a twist over the nat commitment to a referendum on independence – so much so that they wouldn’t join the nats in coalition. If you strive to make yourself irrelevant, you can’t really complain if that’s what you get!

  • We should be working with the SNP. We actually have a lot of things we can work with them on. It was a traditional squeeze in Glasgow East and in that sense we shouldn’t worry too much. Lib Dem voters felt happy to vote SNP in this instance. However we need to carve a role for ourselves North of the Border. Carping on the sidelines isn’t going to get us anywhere. We can work with Salmond – and remain opposed to Independence.

  • Mike Falchikov 25th Jul '08 - 10:44pm

    Thomas Widmann is about right in his contention that most Lib Dem supporters (as distinct from the leadership) are
    less hostile to the SNP than to Labour. In local government there are a number of LIBDem/SNP coalitions which so far have worked quite well. A policy of unremitting hostility to the SNP at HOlyrood really does not m ake sense and may indeed have contributed to the exceptionally poor result in Glasgow East.
    I just hope that the excellent Ian Robertson can be persuaded to stay with it and fight another day on better ground.

  • Well said Mike 😉

    It is ridiculous when big cities like Edinburgh and Aberdeen are run by Lib/Nat coalitions that we refuse to deal with them on the same basis at Holyrood.

    Salmond is killing the opposition with kindness and we should respond in kind and work with Salmond and the SNP to do deliver things like – protection for Scotland’s fantastic natural wildernesses and beaches, re-regulating privatised and atomised public transport services and ensuring all schoolchildren regardless of race or sexuality can grow up and learn in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

    I’m sure if we did that the cracks in the Nat coalition would appear pretty soon…

  • “re-regulating privatised and atomised public transport services”

    Except we can’t now because stagecoach have bought the snp off with a hefty donation and they have changed their mind about reregulation!

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