As neat and clear as it is to present election result maps coloured according to which party won each seat, it doesn’t tell us a great deal about how many votes each party won and where. For the next round of analysis of the 2019 General Election result in Scotland, let’s take a look at each party’s share of votes across the country.
For most parties I’ll be showing the same data in two different ways. One map shows higher vote shares as a darker and more intense colour than the pale areas with lower vote shares. The second map instead shows constituencies bunched into quartiles, with the top quarter of results being the darkest shade. Presenting the data in both of these ways allows us to get a sense both of a party’s relative performance (where were their best seats?) and actual votes (how high was the vote in each seat?)
As has been the story of the SNP since around 2011, their vote share is reasonably well spread. Apart from that particularly low Edinburgh South, they didn’t come below 30% anywhere else, and only came below 35% in two of the Lib Dem won seats. Despite being the most evenly distributed of any party there are still areas of relative weakness, which are mostly the scattered Lib Dem seats plus the more rural South and North East seats. Compared to other recent elections which suggested a shift away from Tayside and the North East into the Central Belt, they managed to do better in those areas even if they didn’t win back all the seats they lost in 2017.
Interestingly, both Stirling and Angus went from being Conservative seats to in the top quarter for SNP vote share. I’d assume in Angus there’s a certain degree of traditional voting habits reasserting themselves, but Stirling is perhaps more likely to be continuing to siphon voters from Labour who came below 10% here despite having held the seat from 1997 until 2015.
- Highest Vote Share – Aberdeen North, 54.0%
- Lowest Vote Share – Edinburgh South, 25.4%
It’s an auld sang for the Conservatives in terms of where their vote lies – overwhelmingly in the South and the North East, which are now the only places they hold seats. A notable result that sticks out to me is Banff and Buchan, now their strongest seat. That displaces the Borders seats which had been the heartland of the Conservative revival. Given Banff and Buchan is considered by some sources to be the only Leave voting constituency in Scotland, that may explain why.
Meanwhile the loss of Stirling, East Renfrewshire and Ayr Carrick & Cumnock mean they don’t have any seats in the Central Belt, although their share did remain top quartile in those seats except for Stirling. Almost everywhere else in the Central Belt however the party recorded comparatively low results, especially around Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire. Another notable splash of low vote share is in North East Fife, where they lost almost half of their vote. It’s highly likely a large chunk of that was redirected into tactical voting that saw the Lib Dems take the seat.
- Highest Vote Share – Banff and Buchan, 50.1%
- Lowest Vote Share – Glasgow Central, 9.2%
There’s no sugar coating the fact that Labour had a truly calamitous result in this election, with their lowest General Election vote share in Scotland in the democratic era. Although the party still isn’t entirely out of contention in its traditional Central Belt strongholds, least of all the seats it’s only just lost, the number of seats where it’s a serious force is dropping substantially. Areas like the Easts (Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire) have gone from being quite strongly Labour to being barely on their radar, whilst they also continue to slip in Ayrshire.
Beyond the Central Belt they also used to be strong in Dumfries and Galloway, but that too has eroded away to below 10%. Aberdeen and Dundee fare better than the surrounding rural areas but only Dundee West saw anything like a high Labour vote. Stirling and Ochil & South Perthshire (the Ochil bit mostly being Clackmannanshire, which was very Labour favourable) are also now completely out of Labour’s orbit as the SNP-Conservative contests have come to the fore.
- Highest Vote Share – Edinburgh South, 47.7%
- Lowest Vote Share – North East Fife, 3.7%
Before polling day, YouGov’s MRP had me wondering about whether the Conservatives and Labour might be going through a Lib Dem-ification of their vote. The evidence doesn’t quite suggest that, so the Lib Dems remain the masters at the game of finding a handful of seats and pouring everything into them which is how they now have four times as many Scottish MPs as Labour for half the vote. In fact, they are the best reason for the two different forms of map here. Their top quartile – 15 seats – ranges from 8% in Dunfermline and West Fife to their 44.8% in Orkney and Shetland.
Effectively the only places that now vote Lib Dem, even after their vote share has bounced back a little, are the seats they currently hold (or just lost) plus varying degrees of lingering fondness in the Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Borders. Especially in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Moray, the Lib Dems barely register.
- Highest Vote Share – Orkney and Shetland, 44.8%
- Lowest Vote Share – Glasgow North East, 3.2%
Only one map for the Greens (and the next lot) because they don’t have high enough vote shares to need the distinction. The reality of FPTP is that they didn’t make much of an impact anywhere in the country. That was especially true in this election where it was clear the tactical voting squeeze compounded small party difficulties with breaking through, meaning they didn’t hold any of their deposits. Anyway, in the seats they stood, Glasgow and Edinburgh were broadly the best areas. Falkirk too was comparatively strong, perhaps due to the presence of INEOS nearby and well-nurtured local opposition to fracking, and Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath’s dark shade is likely down to some pro-Independence voters taking their vote elsewhere following Neale Hanvey’s suspension.
On the flip side, the Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire areas surrounding Glasgow saw the weakest performance from the Greens this election.
- Highest Vote Share – Edinburgh East, 4.3%
- Lowest Vote Share – Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, 1.7%
Brexit and UKIP
I’ve lumped the two pro-Brexit parties together since they didn’t overlap in terms of constituencies and I’d assume they’d be likely to pull broadly similar voters in. For the Brexit side of the equation, they did best in their northern seats as well as where they stood in Fife and Dundee, whilst their Glasgow and Edinburgh results were unsurprisingly weak given the strength of EU support in those cities.
For UKIP, their best results were in Lanarkshire which weirdly seems to be their centre of gravity in Scotland, having stood in most seats there in 2017, whilst everywhere else was below 1%. Super marginal and super Remain East Dunbartonshire was particularly not for having UKIP.
- Highest Vote Share – Orkney and Shetland, 3.9% (Brexit)
- Lowest Vote Share – East Dunbartonshire, 0.4% (UKIP)