The next election to the UK Parliament is due by January 2025. It seems unlikely either that it will be left to the last minute or be held this year, and the expectation is that it will therefore fall at some point in 2024. This page collates all the BBS coverage and analysis ahead of the vote.

Polling

The charts below show the Multi-Pollster average of Scotland-only Westminster polling. This simply takes the most recent poll from each of the different polling agencies (within the normal BBS-tracked series) that have run recent Westminster polling. The starting point on the 1st of January included four polls from Q4 2023. Polls currently in the average (with link to full BBS writeup):

Note: Whilst GB-level polling is much more frequent, the relatively small size of the Scottish sample within those polls means it isn’t statistically useful for examining Scottish voting intention. As ever, BBS strongly advises against paying any attention to subsamples from GB-level polls, and instead using the much more accurate Scotland-only polling. This warning does not apply to the same degree to MRP or other GB-or-UK-level polls with very large sample sizes that are specifically intended to allow more local constituency predictions, and therefore are reasonably reliable for their Scottish element.

The Voting System

Elections to the UK Parliament are conducted via the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system everyone is familiar with. The country is divided into 57 constituencies, each of which elects one Member of Parliament (MP). The party (or candidate, though the vast majority of votes are cast on a party basis) that receives the most votes wins the seat.

FPTP is a fundamentally unfair voting system. As only the largest group of voters in a given constituency win representation, the views of all other voters in that area go unheard in parliament, even though seats have been won in UK elections with as little as 24.5% of the vote. In extreme cases, entire cities, counties and regions can end up represented by MPs of one party, even when hundreds of thousands or even millions of voters have backed other parties.

For the past three elections, Scotland’s delegation to Westminster has been much more heavily SNP than the electorate really is. Lib Dem, Conservative and especially Labour voters have been heavily underrepresented, whilst smaller parties like the Greens have historically stood fewer candidates, spent fewer resources, and received fewer votes than in elections using Proportional Representation (PR).

Boundary Changes

The next election will be fought on different constituency boundaries than in 2019. Scotland’s Westminster boundaries were last redrawn in 2005, and a review by the non-partisan Boundary Commission for Scotland has created a new set of seats. Ballot Box Scotland has taken an in-depth look at the proposals at each stage of the review from initial, to revised, to final.

As part of this, Scotland’s representation at Westminster will fall from 59 to 57 MPs. Despite some claims to the contrary, there is nothing inherently sinister about this. Seats are distributed based on population, and Scotland’s population has been growing much slower than the population in other parts of the UK. As we now make up a smaller share of the UK’s population, we naturally get apportioned a smaller share of MPs.

How boundaries are drawn can have a significant impact on the number of seats won by each party. This is another deficiency of FPTP, and of voting systems that elect very small numbers of representatives from each area at a time more generally. It is estimated that had the 2019 election been fought on these new boundaries, the Lib Dems would have been the party losing 2 MPs, whilst the other three Westminster parties would have had the same total.

As the boundary changes have been significant, a large number of seats have totally new names and/or don’t look very similar to existing constituencies. The table below compares the new seats with their closest equivalent 2019 seat, as well as showing who would be expected to have won the new seat in 2019. 

2019 Results

Due to the thoroughly antiquated nature of the UK’s democratic systems, it is not possible to be certain how the previous election would have went on the new boundaries. Whilst most other countries, even including the lumbering behemoth that is the United States, will collect and publish data right down to polling district level, in the UK we don’t get that for anything except Scottish local elections, and that’s only because those are counted by machine.

Instead, in order to have a baseline to compare the upcoming election’s results with, “notional” results for the 2019 election on the new boundaries have to be based on estimates rather than confirmed, raw data. Major broadcasters typically commission academics to produce these estimates, which for the new boundaries were published on the 16th of January 2024

An interactive map showing the headline figures for each constituency is available below. More detailed information, including the exact number of votes per party, a description of the boundary changes, and constituency maps, are available on the following pages. Candidates will also be added to these pages once the Notice of Poll has been published for each constituency.

Estimates compiled by Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher on behalf of BBC News, ITV News, Sky News and the Press Association. Calculations for Scotland done by Professor David Denver, those for Northern Ireland by Nicholas Whyte.

Retiring and Deselected MPs

A total of 12 Scottish MPs are not re-standing at the next General Election. Of these, 10 are retiring and two have been deselected.

  • Lisa Cameron, East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (2015) DESELECTED BY SNP
    • Defected from the SNP to Conservatives on the day the outcome for the selection contest in her constituency was due to be declared, and also stated she would not run for re-election. Due to the circumstances surrounding this defection, the widely reported dissatisfaction with Cameron in her branch, and the statement by the new SNP candidate that he understood he had beaten her comfortably in the selection, this is a clear cut case of jumping just before being pushed, and is therefore recorded here as a deselection.
  • Alister Jack, Dumfries and Galloway (2017)
    • Secretary of State for Scotland
    • Anticipated to be elevated to the House of Lords in the future
  • Douglas Ross, Moray (2017)
    • Leader
    • MSP for Highlands & Islands (2021-Present, also 2016-2017)
  • Mhairi Black, Paisley and Renfrewshire South (2015)
    • Westminster Group Depute Leader (2022-Present)
    • Youngest MP elected in the democratic era, 20 at time of election
  • Ian Blackford, Ross, Skye and Lochaber (2015)
    • Westminster SNP Group Leader (2017-2022)
    • Seat abolished in boundary changes
  • Douglas Chapman, Dunfermline and West Fife (2015)
  • Angela Crawley, Lanark and Hamilton East (2015)
  • Patrick Grady, Glasgow North (2015) DESELECTED
    • Grady had been suspended from the group for a significant period following allegations of sexual misconduct. Although he was eventually readmitted, he was not allowed to enter the vetting process for candidacy and therefore deselected by default.
  • Peter Grant, Glenrothes (2015)
  • Stewart Hosie, Dundee East (2005)
    • SNP Depute Leader (2014-2016)
    • Westminster Group Depute Leader (2015-2017)
  • John McNally, Falkirk (2015)
  • Philippa Whitford, Central Ayrshire (2015)