6 May 2012

Langside, Southside Central & Calton... (Vol III of VII)

So that was Craigton, Govan and Pollokshields.  Next up in our cavalcade of candidates and celebration of local election statistics, we have Glasgow wards seven to nine: Langside, Southside Central and Calton. Between them in 2007, they returned three SNP, one Green, one Liberal and five Labour cooncillors.

For the Nationalists, a mixed picture here.  A detailed look into the allocation in Langside shows that the ward was yet another narrow disappointment for the party, who came very close to depriving the Greens of their cheeky gain from the Liberals. Southside Central proved a success overall, the sitting Green councillor being displaced by an SNP gain.  Finally, Calton, which was a handy Labour win, but depicts some of the challenges parties can face when they run two candidates in a close ward, and much of the allocation is consumed with determining which one of them is finally elected.  Enough with the preliminaries.  Let's crack on.

7. Langside.
Elects three councillors.
2007 result: 1 Liberal Democrat, 1 SNP, 1 Labour.
Result in 2012: 1 Green, 1 SNP, 1 Labour (Green +1, Liberal Democrat -1)




One of the five Liberal seats in the City Chambers gained in 2007, after the Liberal drubbing in Glasgow in 2011, Langside was always going to be one to watch.  Mindful that Liberal transfers show an amazing fluidity of destination, it wasn't clear at the outset who might stand a decent chance of displacing them for the third seat in the ward.  Like Pollokshields, Langside was another ward where the SNP ranged two candidates against a single Labour opponent, in the hope of snaring the third seat.  And as you'll see from the chart, damn close they ran the Greens for it too. The wheezing carcass of the Liberal Democrats, by contrast, cut a stricken figure from the get-go, and were never really in contention to hold onto their seat here.

Both Aitken (SNP) and Graham (Labour) secured quota on the first count.  Returning to the theme of the effectiveness of the SNP in encouraging its voters to transfer across the slate on offer, 160 of Aitken's 201 surplus transferred to her Nationalist running mate, amounting to a transfer rate of 80%.  This put a welcome but narrowing distance between Hewetson and Hainey, his ultimately victorious Green challenger, who trailed behind the second SNP candidate in the ward in six of the seven rounds of counting the Nat was involved in.  However, it was Tory and Liberal transfers to the Green which put Hainey ahead at the crucial moment in round seven of the allocation, causing the SNP candidate to be eliminated and the Green returned instead.

The SNP received the fewers Tory transfers of the remaining field, giving Hewetson only 37 more ballots (12% of ballots transferring), compared to 60 gains made by the Greens (20%) - and a whopping 202 Tory next-preferences (68%) going to their UK coalition partners, the Lib Dems.  When the latter was eliminated in round seven, the Greens were able to gather up a huge 69% of Liberal next preferences, compared to just 129 which broke for the SNP.  It was exceedingly close, but in Langside, hopes of a Nationalist gain were nobbled by the Liberal vote's substantial preference for the Greenies over them, at the crucial final moment. 

8.  Southside Central
Elected four councillors.
2007 result: 2 LAB, 1 SNP, 1 Green
2012 result: 2 LAB, 2 SNP (-1 Green, +1 SNP)




A vital seat for the SNP, this.  In 2007, a fourth Green councillor was elected here on a weak vote in great part because of the Nationalists' single-candidate approach in the city that election year.  This ward was also something of gallimaufry on the candidate front, including another deselected former Labour councillor - Anne-Marie Millar, an SSP bod, and the first Glasgow ward we've covered where "Britannica" was standing.  The name may not immediately resonate you. From their chortleworthy performance across the city, you're clearly not alone. Essentially, they're a Glasgow BNP splinter group, formed as the result of some no doubt fascinating, principled and internecine spot of internal conflict, and in Southside Central, they gloried in a mighty vote of 35.  

To paddle back into the mainstream, another ward here where two candidates achieved quota on the basis of their first preferences.  Under the system, however, the surpluses of elected are reallocated not in the order in which quota is attained, but by taking the individual with the highest number of votes above the quota.  Here, that meant that Siddique (LAB) leapfrogged Hanif (SNP) on the basis of transfers from her running mate in round two (she took 70% of Scanlan's available surplus of 897), and Hanif's surplus had to wait till round four to be distributed. 

Jarring with what we've seen thus far, Hanif's rate of transfer to his SNP running mate was strikingly poor. Not the 70%+ we've been seeing elsewhere, but Hunter gained only 38% of Hanif's potentially transferable surplus.  Thanks to Angus' perspicacity, I realise that a remarkably consistent transcription error erroneously suggested that intra-SNP transfers looked poor in Southside Central.  Not so. In point of fact, with the correct data before us, over 80% of Hanif's vote transferred to Hunter.  The point stands about the efficacy of the division of the vote between its candidates in Southside Central. The closer division of first preferences between SNP candidates helps the electoral prospect of the second candidate. While Hanif took 57% of SNP first preferences, to Hunter's 42%, this compares to a division of 75:25 share between the two Nats in Langside, and as we'll see shortly, the even closer, but decidedly unhelpful 51:49 split in Calton.

Some final transfer curios.  In Langside, we saw a hearty Conservative-Green transfer pattern.  Interestingly, this is replicated in Southside Central. 45% of transferring Tories turned Green, while 35% favoured the former Labour candidate, leaving the remaining 20% to turn Nationalist. 

9.  Calton
Elects three councillors.
2007 Result: 2 LAB, 1 SNP
Result in 2012: 2 LAB, 1 SNP (No change)




Despite its status as the Glasgow ward which consistently records the lowest turnout figures, in 2012 Calton found itself waylaid with a ridiculous wealth of candidates, generally only attracting only a smidgeon of support apiece. Another "Britannica" ward, here the racist goons did even more pleasingly poorly, convincing only 9 people in total to lend them their first preferences.  Sometimes the game really isn't worth the candle.  Realistically, nobody but the SNP and Labour had a hope in hell, and of the thirteen candidates, only five managed to attract more than 200 votes at any stage in the allocation.

Calton is another ward demonstrating how effectively Labour is able to a) win seats in Glasgow well over the surplus and b) carry those big surpluses over to the remaining Labour candidates.  By contrast, while the SNP proves able to win seats, and has been able in 2012 to convince its voters to stick with the slate as they order their preferences, their winning surpluses have proved too low to make a decisive differences.  For a winning party in STV, if voter loyalty is to pay off in terms of surpluses to be transferred, you really have to overshoot the quotas by a decent degree.  The Nationalists just didn't manage it in Glasgow, and accordingly, their second candidates often struggled to stay in the game in the vital final stages of the allocation.  

Labour's George Redmond showed how it's done in Calton, 72% of his 455 surplus ballots being reallocated to his running mate, who - in a single bound - vaulted over the quota and was elected in the second round.  With just a single seat left in the ward, and the Labour field exhausted, Calton's third representative was always going to be a Nationalist - but what a palaver it proved in picking which! Just 23 votes separated Alexander Belic and sitting councillor Alison Thewliss on SNP first preferences, and so skimpy was support for the other candidates - Tory, Lib Dem, Green - that this SNP vs SNP battle for third place attracted a comically small number of transfers. 

After twelve rounds of allocation, two candidates elected and nine candidates eliminated, Alexander had picked up just 107 next preferences, to Alison's 160, advancing drib by drab.  In what should now be a familiar solution, when Alison and Alexander remained alone in the field, with no remaining candidates to be eliminated, the lower scorer of the two was eliminated.  Thewliss having enjoyed a smidgeon of support more than Belic, she took Calton's third and final seat and - egad - even exceeded the quota.  Funny the predicaments which STV can put you in.

Coming up next: Anderston/City, Hillhead & Partick West...


  1. A fine public service you're doing here for us exhausted candidates and campaigners too weary and/or scunnered to crunch the numbers. For the Langside ward, you've confirmed what I thought happened - we did a good job in getting our voters to transfer between SNP candidates, but lost out on getting a second elected at the last gasp on transfers from other parties.

    One small gripe as the successful SNP candidate: "his running mate"? Ahem. I know we had pitifully few women candidates in Glasgow, but I was one of them!

  2. You wrote: Jarring with what we've seen thus far, Hanif's rate of transfer to his SNP running mate was strikingly poor. Not the 70%+ we've been seeing elsewhere, but Hunter gained only 38% of Hanif's potentially transferable surplus.

    Are you sure about that? Hanif looks to have had a surplus of 50 over quota of which 42.57476 (!) were transferred to Hunter. That's 85%, no?

  3. Ark! Thanks for picking that up Angus.

    I knew an error or two would creep in somewhere - and there it is. A reversed couple of numbers on transcription - which I used remarkably consistently - generated the error. As you say, Southside Central bears out the success of the SNP in Glasgow in working its transfers, rather than the reverse. Have updated for accuracy.

  4. Susan,

    Apologies. Truly mortified about that one to. *smacks skull off desk*

  5. Great work in collating all the info. As a Langside resident I was surprised that the Green candidate squeaked in. I know personally that they did not really campaign and were a little surprised. The candidate is not even local. My own tuppence-worth on why SNP vote did not come out:

    1. Murdoch: Lib-dems & anti-Iraq war former labour voters who lent their votes to the SNP in wards like Langside are no fans of the uber-right oligarch. Greens won on LD transfers - QED.
    2. Centralisation: campaign literature was too focused on Salmond & Sturgeon. The SNP GCC manifesto was an amalgum of central policies and a vague wish-list lacking specific measures. I am politically active and was de-motivated by this - probably not alone.
    3. Apathy: The turnout speaks volumes: local elections simply do not engage people - possibly linked to point 2 above. Those who do vote will tend to be older, employed, wealthier, more educated etc.

    I can only hope we can re-engage a lot of those who got behind the SNP last year for the indy ref. But to do so SNP must stop trying to be all things to all people.

  6. Now that some more ballot papers have been found in Langside today ... ahem... I hope that you'll be able to update this post accordingly.

    Thanks for the excellent work by the way; sets a fine example for others to follow.