Friday, 1 July 2011

Labour HOLD Inverclyde

Labour have held their Westminster seat in Inverclyde with a reduced majority. The Scottish Nationalists managed an 8.8% swing but it was no where near enough to take the seat. In fact, Labour's vote share only dropped slightly as the SNP mainly took their votes from the Liberal Democrats, whose vote collapsed by 11.1% and they lost their deposit. It's worth bearing in mind that area the Lib Dems have done well here in the past and they controlled Inverclyde Council as recently as 2007. The Conservative vote held steady and, despite early rumours suggesting they might come fourth, UKIP didn't make much of an impression in this by-election.

By-Election Candidate


Vote %


Iain McKenzie (E)




Anne McLaughlin




David Wilson




Sophie Bridger




Mitch Sorbie




If we cut through all the spin and bluster this result fits nicely with the pattern from last month's Scottish Parliament elections and subsequent local Council by-elections in Scotland since then. The SNP have almost doubled their vote share to close the gap to Labour but the huge deficit they faced proved too much to overcome. This is largely because their new found support is mostly coming from the Liberal Democrats, who crashed to just 2.2% of the vote. In the absence of a direct swing between them and Labour the SNP are always going to struggle to win seats such as Inverclyde.

So, where does this leave everyone compared to rational expectations of the parties' performance? Well, Labour will be very pleased to have held on to half the vote so soon after their disastrous Scottish Parliament election. Although the 2010 General Election was a bad one for Labour across England and Wales their Scottish leader helped them increased their vote share north of the border. In light of this, and the loss of David Cairns' personal vote, Iain McKenzie has done very well to keep his party's vote share up with last May's result.

Although they will be a little disappointed not to have won this by-election the SNP can also be happy with this result as a 15.5% increase in vote share would have won them a number of other Westminster seats. Although Scottish Labour politicians are doing the rounds claiming this result shows that the Salmond bandwagon has ground to a halt privately they will be worried about next year's Council elections across Scotland. The SNP would have won a lot more seats if they had stood more candidates in 2007 and bar any mishaps between now and next May they are set to be the big gainers next May.

As the for the coalition partners this is a by-election to forget. For the Conservatives they can quite literally let this slip from their minds as their vote share barely budged. It's the party they overtook for third place who have the most to worry about after this result. For the second time this Parliament the Lib Dems have failed to hold their deposit and it's hard to spin your vote share dropping 11%.

Almost without exception voters in Scotland and the north of England have punished the Liberal Democrats for their perceived betrayal in entering a coalition with the Tories. It's hard to see a way for them to turn this around unless they can show tangible benefits to voters in these areas that the Lib Dem presence in Government is improving their lives. So far the Liberal Democrats have managed to take most of the flak for the coalition whilst the Conservatives have enjoyed any credit. If this does not change then the 2011 local election results are going to be repeated every year, culminating in a very difficult General Election for the third party.

Finally UKIP have again failed to make an impression in a by-election, which will be disappointing for them following their outstanding performance in Barnsley Central. To be fair, Scotland is not fertile ground for anti-EU party and few were expecting them to improve much on their 2010 result.

Currently there are no future Westminster by-elections pending, although a vacancy in the Inverclyde South Council ward looks likely following Iain McKenzie's win last night.


  1. Just a quibble - they had an 11 percentage point drop in their vote. It was an 85% drop. Good to get the terms right, I reckon.

  2. Barnsley Central ;-)

    Good analysis.