6 May 2012

Anderston, Hillhead & Partick West... (Vol IV of VII)

Langside, Southside Central and Calton this morning.  This evening, we've got Anderston, Hillhead and Partick to divert you.  Without the traducing the fascination of races exhibiting Labour dominance seriously but unsuccessfully embattled only by the SNP, all three of the Glasgow wards treated in this post are unusually diverse and diverting for the city, warring every which way.  In 2007, these wards returned three Green, two Liberal, three Nationalists and three Labour bailies, rendering them arguably the most electorally diverse wards in the city, and key ramparts for the Scottish Green Party to defend against perfidious Nationalist incursions in 2012.  

Hunting grounds too, they proved this election, with Hillhead and Partick's Liberal seats, ripe for the snatching.  Interestingly, the outcomes in the two seats were quite different.  In one, the Nationalists were forced to console themselves with their single councillor, while Labour made advances and gained another.  In the second, by contrast, it was the second Labour candidate who was disappointed, and two Nationalists were returned instead.  What the deuce was that all about? Let's take a look.

10.  Anderston
Elects four councillors.
2007 results: 2 Labour, 1 SNP, 1 Green.
Result in 2012: 2 Labour, 1 SNP, 1 Green (No change)




The seat of the Labour leader Gordon Matheson, Anderston/City represented another opportunity for the SNP to squeeze the Greens in Glasgow - but the gallant little party resisted their predations, retaining their seat in the ward - rather more comfortably than Langside ward was won elsewhere in the city.  

The two Labour candidates independently achieved quota in the first round, while Docherty for the Nationalists was only seven votes short, and comfortably achieved this in the second round, on the back of sixty five Labour transfers from Philip Braat.  In line with what we've observed elsewhere in the city, the SNP achieved a decent rate of transfers from victorious cooncillors to its candidate contesting the remaining seats in the ward.  Craig Mackay gained 46 votes from Docherty's next-preferences.  That's a 79% transfer between SNP candidates.  Such voter discipline was for naught, however. Steeper Labour transfers to the Greens pushed Baker into a modest lead over the second Nationalist candidate: a lead which was not disturbed by the subsequent eliminations of Tories, Liberals, Pirates - and so on. 

Liberal and Tory transfers proved curious again.  The canary candidate was eliminated first, his support breaking 17 for the SNP (16%), 31 for the Tories (30%) and 56 for the Greens (54%).  In the next round, the dawdling blue boy was for the chop, his 120 transferring preferences breaking a startlingly sharp 68% Green, 32% SNP.  This merely confirmed the Greenie in the lead, however, and the final SNP candidate was eliminated, and Baker elected.  That said, we can see something of a pattern forming here, of Green seats being gained off the back of a segment of Tory opinion - paradoxically, you might think - clearly preferring the Greens to the SNP.  We saw this at work, as it happened unsuccessfully, in Southside Central, and it was an important in the Greens, pipping the Nationalists to the third seat in Langside.  We'll see more evidence of it yet in Partick West.

11. Hillhead
Elects four councillors.
2007 result: 1 LAB, 1 Green, 1 SNP, 1 Liberal
Result in 2012: 



An unusually diverse ward for Glasgow.  The first ward we've seen so far where a Nationalist candidate was the first to achieve quota, a look into the viscera of what happened in Hillhead ratchets up yet another narrow disappointment for the SNP.  In Langside, we narrowly lost out on a second seat to the Greens. In Govan we were dented and disappointed by what is now revealed - oh happy hindsight! - as a misconceived three candidate campaign.  In Hillhead, by contrast, the major scrap was with the second Labour candidate.  It has been suggested in popular commentary that Hillhead is evidence for "the Liberal vote" going Labour's way.  Interestingly, as we'll see, there's no real evidence from the data that it was the next preferences of current Liberal voters which pushed Labour into its two-seat victory in Hillhead, although it may well be that the red ranks were swelled to a greater degree here by thoroughly disaffected Liberals who have abandoned past party allegiances. 

A ward crammed with detail and buzzing with candidates. As you can see Hillhead is curious in that the Greens aren't trailing in in fourth here, but are advancing in the van.  Martha Wardrop remained just a touch ahead of the leading Labour candidate in the ward throughout, and was the second to achieve quota here, leaving the remaining Nationalist and the two Labour candidates to brawl it out for the remaining two seats in the ward.  And quite the brawl it proved.  Mark Smith (SNP) stalked just a smidgeon behind Labour's Pauline McKeever for a long slog of rounds, as Labour's Martin McElroy lollygagged his way exceedingly slowly towards achieving quota. 

Although one of the few wards in the city in which we're able to see how a victorious Green's preferences split, practically, Wardrop's surplus didn't have any commanding effect.  She exceeded the high Hillhead surplus by just 28 votes.  Remember, however, that the surplus votes are allocated on the basis of next preferences across an elected candidate's ballot papers.  From how those 28 votes transferred, we can say, for example, that the remaining SNP candidate took 32% of Wardrop's next preferences, followed by 29% for Labour candidates and 4% for the Tory.

When he did so, however, lifted over the magic number 1,157 by generous Tory transfers (118 being split between the two Labour candidates, with just 46 for the SNP), that gave McElroy a nice clutch of surplus votes to bestow on his colleague.  Beforehand, McKeever enjoyed a lead of just nine votes over the Smith.  Even without the benefit of her colleague's surplus, this would have been enough to hand McKeever victory - but is a lesson in how slender the final margin proved between the SNP and Labour in Hillhead, but it was the timely transfer of the Labour surpluses which decisively won the fourth and final seat for them.

12.  Partick West
Elects four councillors.
2007 result: 1 LAB, 1 SNP, 1 Green, 1 Liberal
Result in 2012: 1 LAB, 2 SNP, 1 Green


One of the election's success stories for the Nationalists, Partick West sees the situation between the SNP and Labour we observed in Hillhead essentially reversed.  Aileen Colleran, the leading Labour candidate, achieved quota in the third round after the elimination of a few very low scoring candidates, leaving Feargal Dalton, the leading SNP candidate, to ape McElroy's slog in Hillhead, gradually, at snail's pace, accumulating enough votes to surpass the threshold in the tenth round.  In what will now be a familiar site for readers focussing on the Nationalist figures, you'll note that Colleran only exceeded the quota in the high-turnout Partick by three votes.  While Nationalists across the city suffered from their leading candidates winning on an insufficiently high poll to cascade down meaty surpluses to fellow SNP candidates in the running, in Partick the trick was played back on Labour, and Michael Shanks' red line hardly moved on his colleague's election.  Like a number of unsuccessful second SNP candidates we've seen, this weakness put Shanks in a poor position going into the subsequent elbow-throwing allocation of the ward's fourth seat.  

Important too was the effective vote split between its two candidates the Nationalists managed in Partick.  Rather than a 75:25 split, often fatally weakening the second candidate, here, the party's 3,160 first preferences in the ward divided up 56:44.  Unlike the stramash between Alison Thewliss and Alexander Belic in the three-member ward in Calton, the comparative strength of both Nats here proved instrumental in foiling Labour's hopes of emulating Hillhead, and taking a second seat.

As you can see, Martin Bartos for the Greens was cutting an almost identical ascent to the second SNP candidate in the ward, Kenny McLean, but his pace rapidly quickened with the elimination of the Liberals, and then the Tory.  Repeating a familiar pattern observed elsewhere, the Paris' Liberal Democrat next preferences flew all over, but most strongly to Partick's Tories (120 votes) and to its Greens (184).  Neither Labour nor SNP candidates fared particularly well in touting their next-best charms to the ward's Liberals, attracting just 68 and 56 transfers respectively.  

Vote Blue, Go Green seems to have been an effective motto.  On the elimination of Anderson (Con) in the next round, his ballots transferred pre-eminently to the Green's Martin Bartos (284), while 159 went to SNP candidates and 122 ended up in Michael Shanks' pile for Labour.  To put it in slightly different way, the Greens took over 50% of all Tory ballots which transferred in Partick, compared to 28% to Nationalists and 22% for Shanks.  These Conservative transfers proved enough to elect both Bartos for the Greens and Feargal Dalton for the Nats.  After allocating their modest surpluses, McLean was a not-insignificant 180 votes ahead of Shanks, and the latter crashed out the contest for the fourth council seat in the ward. As many of his Nationalist fellow candidates might have observed of their own predicaments, hard lines.

It is also worth recording a details or two from the less triumphant end of the ballot. A husband and wife team who apparently couldn't bear to be parted, even on the ballot paper, both ran for the Scottish Unionists in Partick. Catherine and Robert Findlay attracted an effulgent 66 first preferences between them.  Romance, eh?

Coming next: Garscadden, Drumchapel and Maryhill...


  1. Hillhead is my seat and registered a dismal 28% turnout - still, double the mortifying 14% in the November by-election. Apart from the turnout (not as bad as first feared except in some bleak patches such as Hillhead), it's the transfers that make up the most fascinating aspect of the election story in Glasgow and no doubt the strategists will be paying close attention to LPW's invaluable drill-down readings of the runes.

    My impression from the gab I hear is that the quality of candidate played a part in Glasgow among those who bothered to vote and were not absolutely committed to a party; for what it's worth on the anecdotal level I think overall Labour simply had (on the whole) the better candidates.

    Also Johann Lamont is registering as an effective and admirable leader - she gave one of the best speeches I have heard in recent times at the Remembering Janey Buchan night.

  2. Damn when i say 'my seat' I mean I live there - am not a coonsillor!

  3. Edwin

    Curious. Why so low in Hillhead, I wonder? For myself, I've been involved in watching two elections simultaneously last week: the Oxford City Council, and the Scottish races. I was greatly struck my how low turnouts were down here: even Glasgow's lowest turnout ward put in a greater show of voting than several Oxford wards. Some of this is attributable to the oddity of much of the Oxford population - students who vote at home instead, or don't feel they have a stake in the town, and so a right to inflict their preferences onto it.