8 March 2011

More Glasgow Southside psephology...

Did you know that you can find out how constituency voters in the 2007 Holyrood election used their regional list votes? I didn't. However, thanks to a kindly commenter after my recent post encouraging pro-Green voters in Glasgow Southside to seriously consider supporting Nicola Sturgeon in May, I've now discovered that the Scotland Office published this data in 2008. The full tables for the cross-paper combinations in every constituency in Scotland can be examined in full here. It is a huge and fascinating databomb that could be dismantled from every which way and is likely to keep those suffering from that well-known blogger's syndrome - tertiary psephology, defined as the sustained obsessive attachment to the minutiae of political life - awake through the night.  To afford a bit of an insight into the sorts of information which can be gleaned from this, I'll stay within the boundaries of my own Holyrood constituency of Glasgow Govan, as was. In 2007, the constituency results were as follows...

Glasgow Govan, Holyrood Election, 2007
  • Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) ~ 9,010
  • Gordon Jackson (Labour) ~ 8,266
  • Chris Young (Liberal Democrat) ~ 1,891
  • Martyn McIntyre (Tory) ~ 1,680
  • Asif Nasir (Independent) ~ 423
  • Elinor McKenzie (Communist) ~ 251
Turnout ~ 45.4%
Majority ~ 744
Rejected ballots ~ 1,220

How did this compare to how voters used their regional list vote? Here is what the Scotland Office figures for the constituency tell us. Click on the image for a clearer view.

You'll notice that the SNP regional vote in the constituency is noticeably lower than the vote attracted by Nicola herself, to the tune of 2,855 votes. Where did these go? The brisk answer is all over the place, but a few salient points can be made. Sturgeon-SNP ballots constituted only 68.3% of Sturgeon's total vote (6,155). The second largest combination (6% of her total) was Sturgeon-Green, with 561 votes, followed by Sturgeon-Solidarity (440 or 4.9%), Sturgeon-Labour (354 or 3.9%), followed by Sturgeon-Muhammad Shoaib (an independent candidate) on 236 votes (2.6% of her total) - and only then Sturgeon-Liberal (212 votes, or 2.4%). Put in a slightly different way, 10% of Tory list voters and 14.6% of Liberal Democrats supported Nicola in the constituency. Of the Greens I was talking about earlier, although 34.4% of Green list supported Nicola in 2007, 29.4% balloted for the Liberal, Chris Young - and 20.7% of them tried to shoot themselves in the foot by supporting Gordon Jackson for Labour.

Interestingly, Sturgeon-SNP ballots made up a stonking 91.5% of all of the SNP's list vote in the constituency (which totalled 6,727). The second most common source of SNP list votes was from amongst those who had supported Gordon Jackson for Labour in the constituency, but these numbered a slight 198 in total. Incidentally, the data suggests that folk who voted Liberal Democrats in the Glasgow Govan constituency were much, much more likely to vote Green than turn to the SNP. The SNP gained only 61 regional votes from people who supported the Liberal constituency candidate, compared to the 480 voters who cast their second vote Green, to borrow a phrase.

On a final curious note, 28.5% of the BNP list voters (which numbered 365 in the constituency) supported Gordon Jackson, 28.2% had voted Tory for their FPTP candidate and 23.8% had supported Nicola. Excitingly, since data of this sort is available across Scotland, the amateur psephologist with time of their hands can focus in a much more fine-grained way on past voting behaviour in particular regions and areas. It strikes me that the data may prove particularly helpful, to get some sense of which alternative a loosened Liberal vote might gravitate towards in a particular constituency. Do take a look at the full figures for yourself.

P.S. I've focussed on my own constituency thus far, but if readers are particularly interested in other constituencies across Scotland, do let me know which ones and I'll try to take a look at them before polling day in May.


  1. Thanks for tipping me off about Glasgow Southside. As a warning, I might be referring to the Tartan ladettes (Nicola and Annabel, the reincarnation of Ann and Laura Brand). I remember seeing a review at the Tron in Glasgow about 25 years ago (?) featuring the Alexander Sisters. It was funny then, but probably too rude to get mentioned in the Gruniad - which censored 3 of my comments!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You don't need to publish this.


  2. "ncidentally, the data suggests that folk who voted Liberal Democrats in the Glasgow Govan constituency were much, much more likely to vote Green than turn to the SNP. "

    This is repeated in my constituency Linlithgow

    Martin Oliver voters went for SNP just 65 times, but Greens 310 (30% of the non LD/LD vote)

    Actually the Green vote is equally spread over SNP/LD/Lab (307/310/310) with only the Tories not finding it easy being green with 90.

  3. obreption,

    I have the good fortune to be in an interesting, marginal and SNP-leaning constituency. Certainly peps things up.

  4. Paul,

    When I get a wee bit more time, it'll be interesting to see to what extent that Govan & Linlithgow tendency is replicated elsewhere. My hunch would be that it is likely in some constituencies that Liberals will be more SNP leaning than in others. A caution against talking in general terms about "the" Liberal vote that, without distinguishing town, country, geographic dispersal - and in the constituency of course, primary competitors.

  5. I was only being a bit naughty in flying a rhetorical device that might raise the conspiratorial cloud on postal voting and the whereabouts of that infamous 'missing' Glenrothes register? I'm sure the counting interlude for the May 5th Scottish elections will be above board - won't it?