The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Glasgow North East: Who Will Win

Posted by The Futility Monster on August 18, 2009 @ 08:09

This morning is leading on the issue of what exactly is going to happen in the Glasgow North East by-election.

For those considering a punt on the outcome, clearly nothing would be closer to the front of their mind, and the site’s punter-in-chief Mike Smithson has yet to come to a considered judgement on the issue.

It’s understandable why. As we know, the three “main” parties didn’t stand against Michael Martin at the last election by convention. The result looked like this:


As you can see, Michael Martin managed to secure over 50% of the vote. Probably easy considering the paucity of the opposition. But the presence of the SNP is an important factor. I would venture to suggest that the serious party opposition may well have hoovered up a significant degree of the votes that the other opposition candidates would have got.

Nevertheless, the suspiciously large vote share for the Socialist Labour party would also suggest that a significant proportion of these voters were confused and could well return home to the Labour Party when they get the chance.

I’m prepared to assume that most of the vote for the Speaker will return to Labour at the by-election. Michael Martin was well known locally, and Scottish Labour is particularly tribal. Most of its supporters will have been well aware who the “Labour” candidate was.

For those who voted for him but were not supporters of Labour, perhaps they will return to their natural party. But I think this will be balanced out by those returning from Scottish Labour.

The outcome, I think a similar vote of 15,000 or so for the Labour Party candidate would not be unreasonable. In the circumstances, I reckon that would be sufficient to win the seat.

The SNP, Tories and the Lib Dems will be all be competing to say which amongst them is the best home for the “only we can beat Labour” vote. Yet, clearly, only the SNP will have the genuine right to claim that. The Lib Dems, alas, don’t have a chance. And I think the anaemic performance of the Conservatives in the 2008 Glasgow East by-election, held at the height of Labour’s unpopularity (another one), will naturally rule them out for this one.

I just don’t think, though, that the SNP will be able to get enough traction. The Glasgow East by-election victory last year was unprecedented. For lightning to strike twice is surely asking too much. Last year the opposition to Labour was extraordinary; and yet they still achieved a vote of 10,000. Those levels of fever pitch are not quite so strong now. Bear in mind that only a few months later Labour sailed home in Glenrothes. Not entirely comparable, but a good sign that Labour aren’t doomed to failure at every single by-election they encounter…

My conclusion: this will be a Labour victory. It will be a well fought battle,  and the SNP will indeed get close. But I think a Labour majority of some two to three thousand over the SNP the most likely outcome.

Of course, we haven’t even had an “official” election campaign yet as no by-election date has been called and won’t be until October. Maybe something exciting will turn the tables by then. We can but hope…


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