Who Voted SNP?
An interesting analysis of the Scottish elections, by Murray Smith over on the Canadian New Socialist website.
Despite the controversy over the union and the hysteria whipped up by the Labour Party in particular, the vote was much less than the first Scottish Parliament election and only slightly more than the second. So where did the extra SNP votes come from. Labour? No, their vote was down only by about 10, 000. The combined vote of the smaller parties was down 150,000.
"These elections were a triumph for the Scottish National Party (SNP), which won 47 seats out of 129 (20 up on last time) to Labour’s 46 (4 down). Any idea that they were essentially a defeat for Labour rather than a victory for the SNP does not resist an examination of the facts and figures. In a rather confused article in this week’s Socialist Worker, Neil Davidson writes of “a serious desire on the part of voters to punish Labour for its many crimes”. But later in the same article he notes that “the great majority of new SNP seats came from the smaller parties, not from Labour”, which is much more relevant. In fact the Labour vote fell, in the constituency section, from 659,879 (34.6 percent0 in 2003 to 648,374 (32,2 per cent) in 2007. Hardly a severe punishment. And in the regional lists it actually went up from 561,379 (29.3 per cent) in 2003 to 595,415 (29.2 per cent) in 2007. In fact the big drop in the Labour vote was between 1999 and 2003, when it lost 250,000 votes in the constituencies and nearly as many in the regions. The SNP on the other hand went up from 449,476 (23.8 per cent) in 2003 to 664,227 (32.9 per cent) in 2007 in the constituencies and from 399.659 (20.9 per cent) in the regional lists in 2003 to 633,401 (31 per cent) in 2007. That brings the SNP in votes to its level of 1999, though its percentage is higher because of an 8 per cent less turnout in 2007 compared to 1999.
So the main reason for the SNP’s victory is that a lot more people voted for them in 2007 than in 2003, and those votes did not come from Labour to any significant extent. In fact there was a real polarisation between the nationalist vote and the unionist vote, and specifically between the SNP and the main unionist party, the Labour Party. Where did the SNP’s extra votes come from ? Well, Labour’s coalition partner the LibDems lost 40,000 votes in the constituency section. Maybe some of those went to the SNP, probably not many. But the combined SSP, Green and Solidarity vote in the regional lists was 150,000 down on the SSP-Green vote in 2003 and since the SSP didn’t stand this time in the constituencies, there were 117,000 votes looking for a home. Add in a 2.4 per cent increase in turnout, which perhaps favoured the SNP, and you start to make up the difference in the SNP vote between 2003 and 2007."
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