7 May 2012

Canal, Springburn & East Centre... (Vol VI of VII)

From the north west of Glasgow, our statistical voyage now tacks back south east, driving on through the turbulent ballots of Canal, Springburn and East Centre, towards our final destination in the east end.  In point of fact, for the main, like Drumchapel and Garscadden, these wards proved very plain sailing for Labour.  Of the eleven councillors available, Labour saw seven re-elected, the SNP retained its three, while the Greens managed to repel Nationalist boarders on the Canal, and held onto its seat by an astonishingly sharp margin. Like Hillhead, Langside and Govan, Canal represents a very near miss for the Nationalists, and a just on the cusp hold for the Greens.

16. Canal
Elects four councillors.
2007 result: 2 LAB, 1 SNP, 1 Green.
Result in 2012: 2 LAB, 1 SNP, 1 Green (No change).




Some curious - and curiously successful - small party candidacies in Canal ward in 2012.  While never in serious contention for the ward's fourth council seat, Jim Berrington of the Socialist Labour Party attracted a very decent wadge of support here, outpolling the Tories and the Liberals.  A similarly robust showing for Brian Brown of the Scottish Unionist Party, who achieved 247 first preferences, beating the Conservative candidate in Canal by almost 100 votes, and ratcheting up 332 votes on transfers, by the time they were eliminated.  Entertainingly, despite the prominent anti-Scottish nationalism of the Unionists, on Brown's elimination in round ten, Gavin Roberts of the SNP attracted 17 Unionist next-preferences, while the independence-supporting Scottish Greens received 30.

Both Labour candidates achieved quota in rounds one and two respectively (the latter carried over by the characteristically generous transfer of next-preferences between Labour candidates), while Billy McAllister for the SNP caught the quota in round one, and lobbed his Nationalist running mate 149 of his 178 surplus votes (a transfer rate between Nationalists of 84%).  While Gavin Roberts had been trailing just behind Kieran Wild of the Greens on first preferences (585 to 583), the strong transfer from his colleague pitched him ahead of the Greenie by 95 votes.  That modest lead was soon whittled down, however, and our old friend - Liberal and Tory transfers - particularly helped Wild to narrow the gap.  He also attracted a good number of next-preferences from the Anti-Cuts candidate.  While Roberts of the SNP took 20 additional votes from that quarter, Wild gained 33. On the elimination of the Liberal Democrat, Roberts gained just 12 ballots compared to Wild's 67, putting the pair of them almost eeksie peeksie with the Nat just a nose ahead, 747 votes to 724. 

Yet again, Conservative next preferences breaking Green instead of Nationalist in Glasgow was crucial in the Greenie's defeat of the second Nationalist in Canal.  Of Tory ballots which transferred to the remaining field, Roberts (SNP) gained just 11, the Scottish Unionist 40 - and the Greens 43.  The atypically vital Scottish Unionist paid a similar complement when ejected from the race in the next round, his 47 transfers breaking 36%/64% for the SNP and the Greens respectively.  By dint of blues going Green, Wild took a nine vote lead over his Nationalist rival for the first time in the whole race.  This minuscule Green lead was confirmed after the elimination of the Socialist Labour candidate, winning Wild the fourth and final seat in the ward - just a Lilliputian 22 votes ahead of the disappointed SNP contender.  Hard luck, Mr Roberts.

17.  Springburn
Elects three councillors.
2007 result: 2 LAB, 1 SNP.
Result in 2012: 2 LAB, 1 SNP (No change).



Springburn isn't exactly fertile soil for Nationalist endeavours, and like the other hard Labour wards we've seen, the three-councillor divvy up here lacks the dramatic transfers and jinks of fate observable in elsewhere in the city.  Both Labour candidates in the ward easily achieved quota in rounds one and two, while Phil Greene, the leading Nationalist candidate, slowly limped towards the requisite figure on the dribs and drabs of transfers from the small section of the electorate, who favoured other candidates. Of those, noteworthy that the independent candidate Joe Chambers did rather well for himself, nipping at the heels of Oakes (SNP), but otherwise, no major drama, here.

18.  East Centre
Elects four councillors.
2007 result: 3 LAB, 1 SNP.
Result in 2012: 3 LAB, 1 SNP.



Like Garscadden and Drumchapel,  Labour confidently ran three candidates in East Centre - and saw all three returned yet again.  While Jennifer Dunn of the SNP can be pleased that she exceeded quota in the first round along with the leading Labour candidate, her colleague Colin Rullkotter found himself hobbling in well behind Russell Robertson from round one, with no real chance of catching up to him.  Again, more evidence of good intra-SNP candidate transfers in this ward.  Rullkotter attracted 96 of Dunn's 125 vote surplus (a transfer rate of 77%).

Looking into the unsuccessful bottom half of the chart, we find a few diverting and eccentric details. Across much of the city, the Liberals have conspired to be beaten by a wide range of smaller parties.  In East Centre, it was Steven Laird of UKIP who pushed out in front of them, out-polling the Liberals by 82 votes to 62.  The troubled Scottish Socialist Party also managed to outclass the golden feather brigade by 92 first preferences.  Also worth a word is the Green performance here.  Thanks to stronger transfers to the Greens than the Nationalists  from the robust votes accumulated by the SSP and the Tories, Nina Ballantyne found herself only 80 votes behind Rullkotter, who was in turn eliminated, and the fourth and final Labour councillor for East Centre elected.

And finally, coming next and last: Shettleston, Baillieston and North East wards...


  1. Next time, Gadget. Next time!

    Watching the ballots being discharged from their boxes, it was clear that Labour's vote was more evenly divided amongst their three candidates than we had expected. A party's candidate who appears first on the ballot almost always gets more first preferences than his or her running mates. This rule held in East Centre, but was far more pronounced for us than for Labour: 1s for Russell Robertson were a fairly frequent sight, whereas my endorsements tended to be Jennifer's sloppy seconds.

    During the campaign, we tried to compensate for my alphabetical disadvantage by advising our supporters in most of the ward to put me #1. However, having stood multiple candidates before, Labour proved more experienced at getting this message across.

    Close one there with the Greens, too. Looks like they could do it next time. Best wishes to them! (As long as it's at Labour's expense rather than ours.)

  2. Colin,

    Always interesting to get the perspective of those actually involved in these races. Vote share is, I think, an interesting issue. Going three all the result breakdowns I've now published, different wards voted rather differently on this score. Lessons to be learned from each other, I dare say.

    On a related point, wasn't the SNP national party's election trope potentially very counter-productive? "1-2-3 SNP" encourages just the sort of alphabetical sequencing we see in these results - and undercuts local efforts, for example, to divide wards up 60/40 between SNP candidates, and encourage the sort of selective preferencing you mention.

  3. Yes, I don't think the national campaign was helpful in this regard. Not the "1-2-3-SNP" thing particularly, but just that the national party failed to communicate the importance of the vote share, leaving it up to the (sometimes stretched) local campaigns.

    I believe an alphabetically-disadvantaged SNP candidate finished ahead only in Baillieston and Calton. In both, it was a very narrow lead, and probably largely attributable to incumbency, but it would still be interesting to see how the "vote management" in those wards differed from elsewhere.

    Having said all this, in the case of East Centre, had the first preferences split more or less 50/50 between us, it'd have been a close contest with the third Labour candidate, transfers would primarily have helped him, and we'd still have ended up with 3 Labour 1 SNP. Sometimes more effective distribution of votes isn't enough: you just plain need more votes.