SP16 – In Detail

It’s all well and good having a shiny map which shows who won which constituency, but that’s only a small part of any election story. Especially with Holyrood having two votes and a semi-proportional system, there’s a lot more to be learned from drilling down into each party’s performance across the country. This page takes a slightly more detailed look at each party’s performance.

Note: The scales on each of these maps does vary to best highlight each party’s spread of the vote. It wouldn’t be helpful, for example, to show Green or Lib Dem votes on a scale with 10% increments given their national vote share was well below that.

No surprises that the SNP did relatively well everywhere in the country – there aren’t any constituencies where they won less than 20% of either vote. In fact, there was only one constituency they came below 30% in that vote, and only 5 where that was the case for the list vote. The effect of the recent re-alignments in Scottish politics are pretty clear here, with the strongest support in both votes concentrated around the west Central Belt.

The Conservatives quite naturally show the opposite to the SNP, with weak support in the west Central Belt (the three constituencies they came sub-10% in both votes are in Glasgow) and success in more rural Scotland. Most notable are their strongholds along the English border in the South – and their increasing strength in the SNP’s traditional stomping grounds of Perthshire, Angus, Aberdeenshire and Moray. Those results foreshadowed their revival in the snap General Election a year later.

Despite their status as the big losers of 2016, Labour didn’t exactly evaporate. Unlike the SNP and the Conservatives, who have in recent years surged nationwide, Labour have always been a heavily Central Belt and urban party – excepting a few outliers in Dumfries and Galloway, the Highlands and the Western Isles. The maps above show they still remain a force in their traditional heartlands, but it is remarkable that they didn’t win more than 30% in any constituency on the list vote, not even in the three constituencies they actually won.

One of the lesser remarked on results was just how poorly the Lib Dems did in most of the country. In 2011, it was considered shocking that they lost their deposit in 25 constituencies. Disguised by a national vote share that stayed static and picking up two more constituency seats, the fact they lost their deposit in 48 constituencies in 2016 is often forgotten. It was even worse on the regional vote too, with 51 below 5%. Constituency wins represented a retreat into strongholds for the Liberals, not the beginnings of a revival – coming below 5% of both votes in most of the constituencies in Lothian and Mid Scotland & Fife regions. As ever, the Highlands and Islands remained a relative bright spot for the party.

Finally for the parliamentary parties, the heavily list-focused Greens. As in previous elections their vote was strongest in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with Glasgow Kelvin their only seat to come out above 20% of the vote. Indeed, they came as close to winning the Kelvin constituency as the Green Party of England and Wales were in Brighton Pavilion 5 years before they elected Caroline Lucas. They also polled relatively strongly in the central Highlands and Stirling. With an overall neater spread of votes than the Lib Dems, the Greens came below 5% of the regional vote in 30 constituencies. That puts the Greens in possibly their strongest position since devolution began, but still with serious work to do to make an impact outside of the two big cities.

Just for fun, it’s worth a peek at the smaller parties that hoped to gain seats but came up well short.

Throughout the Holyrood campaign, UKIP were treated as somewhat serious competitors for seats in Holyrood – indeed, more than a few polls suggested there’d be a few purples in the chamber. Their leader, David Coburn, even got leadership debate invites. As it turned out though they only managed a paltry 2% of the national vote. Their only real notable result was in beating the Lib Dems in the Central Scotland region. Perhaps with the Brexit referendum looming, it’s no surprise that their best performing constituencies were Moray and Banffshire & Buchan Coast, home to traditional fishing communities. Meanwhile in landlocked Stirling and Eastwood, which would go Tory at Westminster a year later and thus might have been viewed as fertile ground for the kippers, they performed atrociously.

RISE were the big hope of the radical independence left, with many in the excitable Scottish Politics Twitter bubble convinced they’d make a breakthrough. They fell completely flat on the day however, failing to come ahead of Solidarity in the national vote and recording a feeble 1% in Glasgow as their best regional result. Unsurprisingly what passed for their strongest results were found in the Central Belt – although the slightly darker shading of parts of the Highlands and Shetland could be evidence that getting former independent MSP Jean Urquhart on-side was a smart move.

Finally, a look at Tommy Sheridan’s ego vehicle, Solidarity. Scotland breathed a collective sigh of relief that the wild fringe of the Yes movement was exactly that, a fringe, and the country firmly told Sheridan they didn’t want to see him return. Unsurprisingly, it was his home turf of Glasgow Pollok that showed the most support for the idea of bringing the People’s Perjurer back in from the cold – but even then, it was still just a handful of votes, a far cry from his heyday.