EU Elections 2019 – Key Battlegrounds Part 2

It’s day two of the Long Wait for Results, which means it’s time for the second half of those key EU Battlegrounds in Scotland. Remember of course that these elections used a single Scotland-wide vote so local results do not themselves count for anything. However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t be interesting or indicative of wider trends. This time around let’s look (mostly) at some more urban, more heavily Remain, and less Conservative councils.

Edinburgh

From opening with the least Remain part of Scotland in the previous post, let’s start with the most Remain area for this one. Edinburgh wasn’t just the strongest Remain vote in Scotland, but also possibly the most Remain major city in the UK. It also has the most diverse politics in Scotland, with each of the four traditional parties holding at least one Edinburgh Constituency at Holyrood and sizeable groups of all five major parties on the Council. Edinburgh also tends to have high turnout, which combined with its large electorate will mean results here have a huge impact on the overall seat distribution.

If the Greens and/or the Lib Dems have had a good election, it will show strongly here. For the Greens in particular this will undoubtedly be their best council, perhaps even to the extent of coming second. On the other hand, Brexit are unlikely to do particularly well here compared to their national result.

East Renfrewshire

Coming in just 0.1% behind Edinburgh, East Renfrewshire was the second most Remain area in Scotland. It’s also the exception to the “not as Conservative” description of this batch, though that’s what makes it so interesting. This is an area the Conservatives have always been quite strong, and although Labour held the UK constituency from 1997 to 2015, the Conservatives were always the leading party at European elections. With Labour still in the doldrums and the SNP falling back, the Conservatives put in a strong performance to win the seat in 2017.

That pairing of a huge Remain vote and strong Conservative support is quite rare even in Scotland, which means it’ll be fascinating to see where the votes go this time. The Lib Dem support for two unions might make them an attractive prospect for those Con/Remain voters. Similarly there are a lot of Labour votes that may be shed, which could benefit all three of the Remain parties here.

Glasgow

Similar to Edinburgh, Glasgow was hugely in favour of Remain, with voters going 2:1 in favour of staying in the EU, and it has a huge electorate which will give it an enormous influence over the result. Although it has more voters overall turnout tends to be low, so it and Edinburgh generally meet in the middle, and the two combined amount to around 20% of the electorate. Historically overwhelmingly Labour, Glasgow went heavily SNP after voting Yes in 2014. Since 2007, the city has rotated through the Lib Dems, Greens and currently the Conservatives holding the position as Glasgow’s third party. That makes it quite diverse, though in recent years the Greens have done very well whilst the Lib Dems have been close to non-existent.

Expect to see a substantial Labour decline here with a clear SNP lead. If this is a good election for the Greens it’ll show very strongly in Glasgow. However, unlike Edinburgh, it seems much more unlikely they’ll manage to slip into second place here, unless Labour’s collapse is at the more severe end of their polling.

Highland

Highland is this post’s exception both to the more heavily Remain and urban character of the other councils. Prior to the Coalition era this was one of the Lib Dems main stongholds, with some form of representation there consistently from the 60’s until the SNP swept them away. By 2017 it even looked like the Conservatives had overtaken them. Highland is also quite politically diverse for a (largely) rural area of Scotland, with the Greens tending to outperform their national result here, and comparatively strong results for UKIP in the past.

We’ve already had a couple of places to watch out for a Lib Dem revival, but Highland will absolutely be at the heart of that if it happens. If the Greens are on the up this time, this will also be one of the places where that registers the strongest. Brexit too may do relatively well here, though expect the SNP to remain on top overall.

North Lanarkshire

The last of our ones to watch, North Lanarkshire tends to look a lot like Glasgow overall, having voted Yes in 2014, recording a strong Remain vote in 2016, and a long history as a Labour stronghold that went SNP, then saw a degree of Labour recovery in 2017. However those two parties have tended to be overwhelmingly dominant in North Lanarkshire, with Lib Dems performing so poorly here at the last Scottish Parliament election that the Central Scotland region overall saw UKIP beat them. The Greens likewise have struggled to make a breakthrough here.

That lack of past diversity means the SNP are likely to have an overwhelming lead here, potentially picking up a lot of Labour/Remain votes. This doesn’t mean that if the other two Remain parties are surging they won’t record respectable shares here, just don’t expect them to be huge.

Now, all that’s left is to wait impatiently for the results to actually be declared! Remember counting will begin on Sunday evening, and we should see council-by-council results released as and when individual counts finish. The final declaration of results and seats will need to wait for the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to finish by around lunchtime on Monday, due to observance of the sabbath. However, there’s a very good chance we’ll know the score before then anyway, as it’d need to be really knife-edge for the small electorate there to tip any seats.

Coverage will be posted live here on Ballot Box Scotland on the homepage, and Twitter will of course be kept up to date.

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