SP21 – Where The Votes Came From

Though it’s now a week since the election, the real work of compiling and analysing all the data is only just getting underway. Having already looked at the headline results across the country, the logical next step is to drill down a bit and look at how each party’s vote was spready across the country. This piece will just be looking at the Regional List Vote, as the ballot with the most options. For the four parties contesting every constituency, their distribution is pretty similar on the Constituency Vote as well, though generally slightly higher.

Since first publishing this, I’ve found (and learned how to use) a new source for interactive maps. That means you can hover over each constituency and see how the party did, in both votes.

The original image maps remain available if you click underneath. In each of these maps, darker colours indicate stronger support. The map on the left shows constituencies coloured by “Natural Breaks”, which better captures the overall spread of results, whilst on the right they are broken down into “Quartiles”, which shows the results roughly in relation to one another.


As has been the case for the past few elections, the SNP continued to draw their strongest support from the Central Belt, particularly around Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Three of their top five strongest constituencies were in those areas. Although support leaked away from most of the North East, the other two in the top five were the Dundee constituencies.

  • #1 – Dundee City West (52.1%)
  • #2 – Coatbridge & Chryston (50.8%)
  • #3 – Dundee City East (50.5%)
  • #4 – Glasgow Provan (49.5%)
  • #5 – Cumbernauld & Kilsyth (49.5%)

In addition to weakening support in Aberdeenshire, the SNP tended to perform least well in the South, as well as in the Northern Isles. Unsurprisingly however, their lowest support tended to be in constituencies that other parties held. Edinburgh is also an area of comparatively low SNP results, which has more to do with how politically diverse the city is than anything else, and explains why SNP-held Edinburgh Central was nonetheless one of their bottom five constituencies.

  • #69 – Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire (30.1%)
  • #70 – Edinburgh Central (29.9%)
  • #71 – Orkney Islands (29.2%)
  • #72 – Eastwood (29.0%)
  • #73 – Edinburgh Southern (24.3%)

Though the SNP won 62 constituencies, they were the leading party on the list vote in 63. That includes one of the Labour and three of the Lib Dem held seats, but means they were narrowly second on this vote in three seats they held via the constituency vote.


As you might expect from the second placed party, their map of support is effectively the inverse of the SNP’s. The Conservatives remain dominant in the very South especially the Borders, as well as posting strong results in the rural North East especially Aberdeenshire. All of their top five constituencies lay within these two regions, though Conservative strength was also particularly evident in Moray and Perthshire.

  • #1 – Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire (47.3%)
  • #2 – Dumfriesshire (42.9%)
  • #3 – Aberdeenshire West (42.3%)
  • #4 – Galloway & West Dumfries (42.0%)
  • #5 – Banffshire & Buchan Coast (39.8%)

That therefore means much of the Central Belt, especially around Glasgow and Lanarkshire, was comparatively weak for the party. That weakness was much more evident in Glasgow, which was where all five of their lowest shares came from. There were also patches of relative success here, for example in Eastwood (a seat they held) and Edinburgh Pentlands.

  • #69 – Glasgow Pollok (11.3%)
  • #70 – Glasgow Kelvin (10.8%)
  • #71 – Glasgow Provan (10.7%)
  • #72 – Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn (10.7%)
  • #73 – Glasgow Southside (8.8%)

In addition to leading the list vote in the five constituencies they held, the Conservatives also placed narrowly first on that vote in the SNP-held seats of Aberdeenshire East, Banffshire & Buchan Coast, and Perthshire South & Kinross-shire.

Though not shown here, the Conservatives lost their deposit in one constituency, which was Shetland. Their list vote as above 5% in every region and constituency.


Labour’s support may be much-reduced compared to just a decade ago, but it still follows the same patterns it has for decades. The core of Labour support remains the Central Belt, especially Lanarkshire, where three of their top five constituencies were. Glasgow, Midlothian and East Lothian were also at the upper end of Labour vote shares. They also retain relatively strong support in Dundee and Aberdeen, as well as the Western Isles.

  • #1 – Rutherglen (27.4%)
  • #2 – Dumbarton (26.5%)
  • #3 – Uddingston & Bellshill (26.5%)
  • #4 – Glasgow Pollok (26.3%)
  • #5 – Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse (25.2%)

Rural Scotland in general has never been particularly Labour-leaning, but shares there are now particularly low. Aberdeenshire and the Borders are especially unfavourable to Labour. Perhaps reflecting long-term squeezes in such seats, all five of Labour’s lowest vote shares came from constituencies where another pro-Union party beat the SNP to the seat.

  • #69 – Aberdeenshire West (6.8%)
  • #70 – Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire (6.8%)
  • #71 – Banffshire & Buchan Coast (6.7%)
  • #72 – Orkney Islands (6.3%)
  • #73 – North East Fife (6.0%)

Though Labour won Dumbarton on the constituency vote, they were only second there on the list vote, meaning Edinburgh Southern was the only constituency they led in both votes. The party lost its deposit based on the constituency vote in three seats (Orkney, Shetland and North East Fife), but was above 5% of the list vote in every region and constituency.


Somewhat similar to the Lib Dems, the Greens find their share quite heavily concentrated in certain constituencies – although it’s a higher vote overall, and doesn’t vary to the same extremes.

Green support continues to be strongest in Edinburgh and Glasgow, where all of their top five constituencies are located. They also did notably well in the Mid Scotland & Fife region, where the Stirling and North East Fife constituencies were the only seats outside the two largest cities with Green shares in double digits.

  • #1 – Glasgow Kelvin (21.0%)
  • #2 – Edinburgh Northern & Leith (19.7%)
  • #3 – Edinburgh Southern (18.9%)
  • #4 – Glasgow Southside (18.4%)
  • #5 – Edinburgh Central (18.2%)

The Greens have tended to be weaker in rural areas, except the Highlands and Perthshire, as well as in the historically industrialised portions of the Central Belt that aren’t in the major cities. In this election, the South Scotland region saw notably low shares, accounting for three of the five lowest results for the party, and reflecting the fact it was the one region not to elect a Green MSP, albeit by a whisker.

  • #69 – Galloway & West Dumfries (4.3%)
  • #70 – Cunninghame South (4.1%)
  • #71 – Banffshire & Buchan Coast (3.5%)
  • #72 – Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley (3.4%)
  • #73 – Dumfriesshire (3.4%)

Briefly looking at constituency votes for deposit purposes, the Greens held their deposit in 7 of the 12 they contested, as well as in every region. They placed below 5% of the list vote in 9 constituencies, though that has no bearing on deposit return.

Liberal Democrat

The Lib Dems are effectively the ongoing justification for visualising vote spread in two different ways. Quartiles alone make it hard to determine just how low the Lib Dem vote is in many places, but the Natural Breaks make it hard to show which areas are strong relative to others.

The spread of support here basically boils down to doing well in the seats they hold plus the one they tried to gain and poorly almost everywhere else. Residual strength in the Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Borders is now largely single-digit, as Argyll & Bute is the only seat outside their top five to break double-digits. You can also spot splashes of stronger support around Dunfermline, Strathkelvin & Bearsden, and central Edinburgh.

  • #1 – Orkney Islands (31.2%)
  • #2 – North East Fife (29.1%)
  • #3 – Shetland Islands (26.7%)
  • #4 – Edinburgh Western (25.5%)
  • #5 – Caithness, Sutherland & Ross (21.2%)

Since their collapse in 2011, the Lib Dems have performed frankly abysmally in most of the Central Belt, to the extent that in 2016 they placed 6th behind UKIP in the Central region. That remained the case in this election, with all of their five lowest shares coming from Central or Glasgow seats.

  • #69 – Motherwell & Wishaw (1.5%)
  • #70 – Coatbridge & Chryston (1.5%)
  • #71 – Glasgow Pollok (1.3%)
  • #72 – Glasgow Shettleston (1.3%)
  • #73 – Glasgow Provan (1.2%)

Despite winning four constituencies on that vote, the Lib Dems only led in Orkney when looking at the list vote. Even there, their list vote is massively lower than the constituency, indicating strong support in the FPTP side simply doesn’t hold up for proportional votes. They also continued to lose their deposit in an increasing number of seats, falling below 5% in 50 constituencies, and in 5 of the 8 regions – their 5% in the North East being 4.995%. If we look at the regional vote within constituencies, they were below 5% in 53 of them, though that has no bearing on deposits.


Moving now to the most notable of the parties without representation – Alba. As you’d expect, though their share was pretty low in every region, you can see the strongest results for them in North East constituencies. There are also a smattering of other areas with above-average Alba shares in the south of Fife, Inverclyde and Edinburgh Eastern, perhaps reflecting some of the (current and historic) home territory of their most prominent candidates.

  • #1 – Banffshire & Buchan Coast (3.4%)
  • #2 – Aberdeenshire East (3.0%)
  • #3 – Dundee City West (2.7%)
  • #4 – Dundee City East (2.5%)
  • #5 – Cunninghame North (2.2%)

Their weakest results came from the South, perhaps reflecting its status as the least Independence-minded part of Scotland, and likewise for the Northern Isles.

  • #69 – Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire (0.88%)
  • #70 – Shetland Islands (0.87%)
  • #71 – Orkney Islands (0.85%)
  • #72 – Dumfriesshire (0.71%)
  • #73 – Galloway & West Dumfries (0.70%)

As they didn’t reach 5% of the vote in any region, Alba didn’t retain any of their deposits.

All for Unity

Finally, let’s look at All for Unity. Although they polled just below 1%, they were the next most voted party after Alba, and worth a brief look at. George Galloway’s outfit were hoping to get him over the line in the South region, and that’s where their best results were found. 

  • #1 – Galloway & West Dumfries (1.95%)
  • #2 – Dumfriesshire (1.90%)
  • #3 – Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley (1.89%)
  • #4 – Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley (1.73%)
  • #5 – Ayr (1.69%)

Results were broadly weaker the further north you went, as well as in Edinburgh.

  • #69 – Orkney Islands (0.54%)
  • #70 – Edinburgh Western (0.51%)
  • #71 – Aberdeenshire West (0.51%)
  • #72 – Shetland Islands (0.50%)
  • #73 – Edinburgh Northern & Leith (0.47%)

With even fewer votes than Alba, All for Unity didn’t retain any of their deposits.

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