What happens north of the border could determine the outcome for the UK as a wholeby Chris Martin / December 3, 2019 / Leave a comment
It is a truth universally acknowledged that at every general election, most seats can be ignored when trying to predict the outcome. The real battle is only in a sub-set of seats: the marginals. And at this election, a lot of these are in Scotland.
What happens in Scotland is important not only in the sphere of Scottish politics and the continuing debate around Indyref2, but also in relation to the outcome for the UK as a whole. So where are these seats and how might they shape the overall result?
Marginals are normally defined as seats where a swing of up to 10 per cent will lead to a change. In the 17 elections since 1951, there has only been one election, Tony Blair’s first victory in 1997, where more than a handful of seats have seen a larger swing than this between the two major parties. The average Con/Lab swing in the last 70 years is in the region of 3 per cent.
At this election, around a quarter of seats across the whole of Britain are marginals: 169 of 650 seats. In contrast, more than three quarters of Scottish seats are marginal: 46 of 59. Come election night, lots of the attention will be on the results in Scotland.
Thirty of the Scottish marginals are currently held by the SNP. If there was a swing away from the SNP, these would be the main battleground. However, recent polling, such as last week’s Ipsos MORI Scotland poll, has pointed to a rise in the SNP’s share of the vote. So most of the interesting marginals will be in non-SNP held seats. Let’s focus on them. In all of these marginals, the SNP came second in 2017.
Labour currently holds seven seats. Of these, six are marginal. Indeed, the party’s second safest seat, East Lothian, requires a swing of only 5.5 per cent for the SNP to take it. If it achieves this, Ian Murray in Edinburgh South will probably be the only Labour MP left in Scotland. Again.
For the Lib Dems, one of their four Scottish seats is marginal, Edinburgh West. It would take a swing of 5.7 per cent to the SNP to unseat them here.…