Which Westminster seats can the SNP realistically win?

[London] Westminster
[London] Westminster by Fabrizio Sciami, on Flickr.
It’s very clear that the best way to ensure that Westminster keeps paying attention to Scotland and to the promises they made during the referendum campaign is to elect as many Yes MPs in May 2015 as possible.

I’d love to see some Scottish Green MPs elected together with a strong SNP contingent, and a Yes Alliance might be the way forward. However, given the weak Green performance in 2010, I’ll concentrate on the SNP’s chances in the following.

How many seats can the SNP realistically win? To find out, I decided to look at the question from three different angles.

Firstly, I implemented a uniform swing based on Scot Goes Pop!’s latest poll of polls (SNP 35.6%, Labour 31.3%, LD 5.8%, Con 17.2%).

Secondly, I took the constituency votes cast at the 2011 Holyrood election and calculated the equivalent Westminster result. For instance, my calculations showed that Banff and Buchan consists of 74.8% of Aberdeenshire East plus 90.2% of Banffshire and Buchan Coast, so I simply applied these percentages to the 2011 results.

Thirdly, I took the independence referendum results, assigned the results to the Westminster constituencies (in a way similar to the above, just based on the council areas instead, except for Glasgow, which published the results for the Holyrood constituencies, and Edinburgh, which used Westminster ones), and mapped the Yes vote to SNP votes and the No votes to Labour, LD and Conservative votes according to their distribution at the last UK election. Of course the referendum was very different from an election, but it shows what a united Yes Alliance could potentially achieve.

Finally, I calculated the average of the three predictions described above and the actual 2010 result, which should take the incumbency effect into account.

The results are very interesting:

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6 24 45 56 28
LAB 41 30 12 1 27
LD 11 3 1 2 3
CON 1 2 1 0 1

A map of the constituencies showing my rankings. The white ones are formidable, and the dark yellow ones are safe.
A map of the constituencies showing my rankings. The white ones are ‘formidable’ and the dark yellow ones are ‘safe’. Based on this map.
This means that according to uniform swing, the SNP stands to win 24 seats, but if we can convince the voters to vote like they did in 2011, the SNP will get no less than 45 seats, and if we can replicate the referendum result, a total of 56 seats is possible. However, if we look at the average of the predictions and of the 2010 result, the SNP will get 28 seats, one more than Labour.

I’ve listed all the Westminster constituencies below, ranked from formidable ones (where the SNP is not in the lead according to any of these measures) to safe ones.

List of formidable constituencies

Dumfries and Galloway

The MP elected in 2010 was Russell Brown.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6419 14610 14401 24503 14983
LAB 23950 18367 14273 24914 20376
LD 4608 0 1473 4793 2719
CON 16501 16762 15805 17165 16558

Orkney and Shetland

The MP elected in 2010 was Alistair Carmichael.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 2042 5079 3178 10552 5213
LAB 2061 0 1078 2557 1424
LD 11989 9455 7374 14876 10924
CON 2032 2129 1016 2521 1925

List of challenging constituencies

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael Moore.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4497 12192 15017 23593 13825
LAB 5003 0 5830 5366 4050
LD 22230 15809 9772 23844 17914
CON 16555 16800 14937 17757 16512

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

The MP elected in 2010 was Tom Clarke.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7014 13551 19277 32998 18210
LAB 27728 23273 21580 25319 24475
LD 3519 0 789 3213 1880
CON 3374 3582 2870 3081 3227

West Dunbartonshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Gemma Doyle.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8497 15133 12197 33720 17387
LAB 25905 21383 12618 22880 20697
LD 3434 0 1402 3033 1967
CON 3242 3453 3208 2863 3192

Dunfermline and West Fife

The MP elected in 2010 was Thomas Docherty.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5201 12886 19510 29281 16720
LAB 22639 17402 19912 18830 19696
LD 17169 10757 6570 14280 12194
CON 3305 3550 3519 2749 3281

Glasgow East

The MP elected in 2010 was Margaret Curran.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7957 13007 20441 54143 23887
LAB 19797 16355 22619 40260 24758
LD 1617 0 879 3288 1446
CON 1453 1614 2269 2955 2073

Glasgow North East

The MP elected in 2010 was Willie Bain.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4158 8775 26476 66750 26540
LAB 20100 16953 28657 45916 27907
LD 2262 0 2627 5167 2514
CON 1569 1716 3907 3584 2694

Inverclyde

The MP elected in 2010 was David Cairns.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6577 12466 12244 27243 14633
LAB 20993 16979 12705 18809 17372
LD 5007 93 1952 4486 2885
CON 4502 4690 2187 4034 3853

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

The MP elected in 2010 was Gordon Brown.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6550 13741 18831 29281 17101
LAB 29559 24658 19664 27831 25428
LD 4269 0 1590 4019 2470
CON 4258 4487 3083 4009 3959

Motherwell and Wishaw

The MP elected in 2010 was Frank Roy.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7104 13246 16154 31261 16941
LAB 23910 19724 17139 22798 20893
LD 3840 0 662 3661 2041
CON 3660 3856 2933 3490 3485

Paisley and Renfrewshire South

The MP elected in 2010 was Douglas Alexander.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7228 13508 22327 30254 18329
LAB 23842 19562 23695 25517 23154
LD 3812 0 2493 4080 2596
CON 3979 4179 6069 4258 4621

East Renfrewshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Jim Murphy.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4535 12570 9922 24287 12829
LAB 25987 20511 15343 23413 21314
LD 4720 0 980 4252 2488
CON 15567 15823 11254 14025 14167

Rutherglen and Hamilton West

The MP elected in 2010 was Tom Greatrex.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7564 14940 19438 31812 18439
LAB 28566 23539 19769 28289 25041
LD 5636 0 1634 5581 3213
CON 4540 4775 3911 4496 4431

List of tough constituencies

Airdrie and Shotts

The MP elected in 2010 was Pamela Nash.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8441 14069 21107 30104 18430
LAB 20849 17013 20215 22369 20112
LD 2898 0 921 3109 1732
CON 3133 3312 2984 3361 3198

Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

The MP elected in 2010 was Sandra Osborne.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8276 15481 15964 26432 16538
LAB 21632 16721 11780 19771 17476
LD 4264 0 844 3897 2251
CON 11721 11950 10572 10712 11239

Central Ayrshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Brian Donohoe.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8364 15259 20998 27249 17968
LAB 20950 16251 15654 19987 18211
LD 5236 0 1106 4995 2834
CON 8943 9163 10778 8532 9354

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

The MP elected in 2010 was Gregg McClymont.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 9794 16255 20724 27927 18675
LAB 23549 19146 16364 23478 20634
LD 3924 0 1667 3912 2376
CON 3407 3613 3375 3397 3448

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

The MP elected in 2010 was David Mundell.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4945 12150 19752 21473 14580
LAB 13263 8353 19143 12611 13343
LD 9080 3068 4607 8633 6347
CON 17457 17686 12650 16598 16098

East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael McCann.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 11738 19737 23910 33832 22304
LAB 26241 20790 19369 28246 23662
LD 5052 0 521 5438 2753
CON 6613 6868 4923 7118 6381

East Lothian

The MP elected in 2010 was Fiona O’Donnell.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7883 15601 17771 27467 17181
LAB 21919 16659 16776 24346 19925
LD 8288 1848 2392 9206 5434
CON 9661 9907 6316 10731 9154

Edinburgh North and Leith

The MP elected in 2010 was Mark Lazarowicz.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 4568 12003 19947 28813 16333
LAB 17740 12673 19526 18790 17182
LD 16016 9812 7526 16964 12580
CON 7079 7316 6174 7498 7017

Edinburgh South

The MP elected in 2010 was Ian Murray.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 3354 10231 24887 20340 14703
LAB 15215 10528 21613 14727 15521
LD 14899 9161 10826 14422 12327
CON 9452 9671 12304 9149 10144

Edinburgh South West

The MP elected in 2010 was Alistair Darling.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5530 12668 30824 24659 18420
LAB 19473 14609 24440 19884 19602
LD 8194 2238 15761 8367 8640
CON 11026 11253 19254 11259 13198

Glasgow North

The MP elected in 2010 was Ann McKechin.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 3530 8179 18436 44811 18739
LAB 13181 10012 18693 21010 15724
LD 9283 5404 2339 14797 7956
CON 2089 2237 3158 3330 2704

Glasgow North West

The MP elected in 2010 was John Robertson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5430 11016 19257 45552 20314
LAB 19233 15426 19239 28055 20488
LD 5622 961 2339 8201 4281
CON 3537 3715 3462 5159 3968

Glasgow South West

The MP elected in 2010 was Ian Davidson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5192 10182 12713 31076 14791
LAB 19863 16462 12466 21405 17549
LD 2870 0 612 3093 1644
CON 2084 2243 1645 2246 2055

Glenrothes

The MP elected in 2010 was Lindsay Roy.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8799 15158 26004 27296 19314
LAB 25247 20913 21924 26983 23767
LD 3108 0 1489 3322 1980
CON 2922 3125 3647 3123 3204

Lanark and Hamilton East

The MP elected in 2010 was Jimmy Hood.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 9780 17089 29748 31812 22107
LAB 23258 18277 23492 25145 22543
LD 5249 0 744 5675 2917
CON 6981 7214 7350 7547 7273

Paisley and Renfrewshire North

The MP elected in 2010 was James Sheridan.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8333 15195 18931 25212 16918
LAB 23613 18936 17879 19258 19922
LD 4597 0 1581 3749 2482
CON 6381 6600 7086 5204 6318

Ross, Skye and Lochaber

The MP elected in 2010 was Charles Kennedy.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5263 10733 14956 21292 13061
LAB 5265 1537 4335 4522 3915
LD 18335 13771 9603 15748 14364
CON 4260 4434 2904 3659 3814

List of average constituencies

North East Fife

The MP elected in 2010 was Sir Menzies Campbell.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5685 11975 14469 28289 15105
LAB 6869 2582 6006 7136 5648
LD 17763 12515 8595 18453 14332
CON 8715 8915 6037 9054 8180

Glasgow Central

The MP elected in 2010 was Anas Sarwar.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5357 10158 29409 63792 27179
LAB 15908 12636 25020 38414 22995
LD 5010 1004 2091 12098 5051
CON 2158 2311 4235 5211 3479

Glasgow South

The MP elected in 2010 was Tom Harris.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8078 14373 21763 43576 21948
LAB 20736 16446 16692 26783 20164
LD 4739 0 1608 6121 3117
CON 4592 4792 3796 5931 4778

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

The MP elected in 2010 was Cathy Jamieson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 12082 19391 21489 32251 21303
LAB 24460 19479 14615 25578 21033
LD 3419 0 827 3575 1955
CON 6592 6825 4730 6893 6260

Midlothian

The MP elected in 2010 was David Hamilton.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8100 14261 12657 26370 15347
LAB 18449 14250 8363 21017 15520
LD 6711 1570 3329 7645 4814
CON 4661 4857 2640 5310 4367

List of easy constituencies

Aberdeen North

The MP elected in 2010 was Frank Doran.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8385 14304 26484 28781 19489
LAB 16746 12712 17538 24019 17754
LD 7001 2062 4752 10042 5964
CON 4666 4855 5841 6692 5514

Aberdeen South

The MP elected in 2010 was Anne Begg.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5102 11858 19273 24213 15112
LAB 15722 11117 12483 14626 13487
LD 12216 6579 5752 11365 8978
CON 8914 9129 5692 8293 8007

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

The MP elected in 2010 was Sir Robert Smith.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 7086 14182 24404 25907 17895
LAB 6159 1323 5720 6530 4933
LD 17362 11441 10603 18408 14454
CON 13678 13904 11002 14502 13272

Argyll and Bute

The MP elected in 2010 was Alan Reid.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8563 15660 18885 26324 17358
LAB 10274 5437 10360 10772 9211
LD 14292 8370 3652 14984 10325
CON 10861 11087 6555 11387 9973

North Ayrshire and Arran

The MP elected in 2010 was Katy Clark.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 11965 19205 23346 35304 22455
LAB 21860 16926 15561 23845 19548
LD 4630 0 931 5050 2653
CON 7212 7443 5361 7867 6971

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

The MP elected in 2010 was John Thurso.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5516 10033 12423 24840 13203
LAB 7081 4003 4880 8696 6165
LD 11907 8138 5730 14623 10100
CON 3744 3888 2633 4598 3716

East Dunbartonshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Jo Swinson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 5054 12582 23227 25751 16654
LAB 16367 11237 22009 14939 16138
LD 18551 12270 3573 16933 12832
CON 7431 7671 6013 6783 6975

Dundee West

The MP elected in 2010 was James McGovern.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 10716 16545 22082 28124 19367
LAB 17994 14022 10005 15155 14294
LD 4233 0 1453 3565 2313
CON 3461 3647 3497 2915 3380

Edinburgh East

The MP elected in 2010 was Sheila Gilmore.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8133 14392 34167 27500 21048
LAB 17314 13048 31765 18025 20038
LD 7751 2529 11578 8069 7482
CON 4358 4557 10928 4537 6095

Edinburgh West

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael Crockart.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6115 13407 30985 22615 18281
LAB 12881 7911 24096 13716 14651
LD 16684 10599 15814 17765 15216
CON 10767 10999 15468 11465 12175

Falkirk

The MP elected in 2010 was Eric Joyce.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 15364 23336 26936 33659 24824
LAB 23207 17774 18391 26306 21420
LD 5225 0 1220 5923 3092
CON 5698 5952 3965 6459 5519

Gordon

The MP elected in 2010 was Malcolm Bruce.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 10827 18485 27569 24418 20325
LAB 9811 4592 6273 9810 7622
LD 17575 11185 7724 17574 13515
CON 9111 9355 7026 9110 8651

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

The MP elected in 2010 was Danny Alexander.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8803 16196 22437 31937 19843
LAB 10407 5369 8678 10417 8718
LD 19172 13004 7443 19191 14703
CON 6278 6513 4868 6284 5986

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael Connarty.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 13081 21159 33053 36981 26069
LAB 25634 20129 24516 29501 24945
LD 6589 0 1789 7583 3990
CON 6146 6403 5162 7073 6196

Livingston

The MP elected in 2010 was Graeme Morrice.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 12424 19945 30256 33191 23954
LAB 23215 18089 21458 28163 22731
LD 5316 0 1464 6449 3307
CON 5158 5398 3992 6257 5201

Ochil and South Perthshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Gordon Banks.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 13944 21868 18612 31212 21409
LAB 19131 13731 6635 22543 15510
LD 5754 0 2077 6780 3653
CON 10342 10594 8533 12186 10414

Stirling

The MP elected in 2010 was Anne McGuire.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 8091 15445 23251 25010 17949
LAB 19558 14546 15295 19321 17180
LD 6797 661 1941 6715 4029
CON 11254 11488 6827 11118 10172

List of safe constituencies

Angus

The MP elected in 2010 was Michael Weir.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 15020 20980 15487 24969 19114
LAB 6535 2473 3561 9409 5495
LD 4090 0 1256 5889 2809
CON 11738 11928 6050 16901 11654

Banff and Buchan

The MP elected in 2010 was Eilidh Whiteford.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 15868 21907 29768 27408 23738
LAB 5382 1266 4105 10403 5289
LD 4365 0 4033 8437 4209
CON 11841 12033 7290 22888 13513

Dundee East

The MP elected in 2010 was Stewart Hosie.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 15350 21719 29102 35571 25436
LAB 13529 9188 9983 17616 12579
LD 4285 0 1588 5579 2863
CON 6177 6380 6160 8043 6690

Moray

The MP elected in 2010 was Angus Robertson.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 16273 22711 18467 27232 21171
LAB 7007 2620 3839 10945 6103
LD 5956 584 1421 9303 4316
CON 10683 10888 6324 16687 11146

Na h-Eileanan an Iar

The MP elected in 2010 was Angus MacNeil.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 6723 9034 8496 9195 8362
LAB 4838 3263 3724 7750 4894
LD 1097 0 228 1757 771
CON 647 721 563 1036 742

Perth and North Perthshire

The MP elected in 2010 was Peter Wishart.

Party 2010 Swing 2011 2014 Avg
SNP 19118 26696 23577 26613 24001
LAB 7923 2758 3999 11142 6456
LD 5954 0 1948 8373 4069
CON 14739 14980 10835 20727 15320

108 thoughts on “Which Westminster seats can the SNP realistically win?”

  1. The most surprising thing (do I really mean this?) is the number of Labour MPs I have almost never heard of, Gemma Doyle?, Thomas Docherty?, …

    1. Yes, I know. I can understand that the constituencies that have a high-profile MP feel they can benefit from this, but many of the Labour seats would get much better representation if they elect the SNP candidate.

    2. Funnily enough, I had never heard to this Docherty character until I discovered he had the highest personal expenses of any SLab MP at just under £50,000 for last year alone. These are purely the personal expenses and don’t cover office and staff costs. He even outdid Jim Murphy, Margaret Curran and Anas Sarwar who really know how to milk the system. Just because I’d never heard of him doesn’t mean he’s a nobody, though: doubtless he is standing astride a world stage and is pivotal to the world of politics.

  2. Was just looking at the first constituency, the most formidable, Russell Brown’s Dumfries & Galloway.
    In 2010 Labour won on 46.5%. Tories 2nd on 32%, then SNP on 12.4% and LibDem on 8.9%.
    Now lets assume that 95% of those Tories voted no and will vote Tory in 2015. That means Tories get 30% of the vote. This would leave 70% of votes up for grabs. Now lets just say we can persuade everyone who voted yes to vote SNP. This would give SNP 36% of the votes (The whole of D&G voted 36% yes). This would leave Labour with 34%. So the tactic has to be to get the yes people to vote SNP and if we can do this we can even take the most formidable constituency. What do you think folks? Too much to ask?

    1. Yes, I agree. Just like in East Renfrewshire (where I live), I reckon many people vote Labour to keep the Tories out in Dumfries and Galloway. This means that the SNP’s task is to convince the anti-Tory voters that only the SNP will provide real opposition to the Conservatives and that the political developments since 2010 mean the SNP are the main challengers to the Tories anyway.

  3. What about the 2011 Inverclyde by-election following the death of David Cairns? That showed a significant growth in SNP votes and a drop in Labour within the space of a single year:

    SNP 6577 (17.5%)
    Lab 20993 (56%)
    LD 5007 (13.3%)
    Con 4502 (12%)

    to

    SNP 9280 (33%)
    Lab 15118 (53.8%)
    LD 627 (2.2%)
    Con 2784 (9.9%)

    That’s an 8.9% swing from Labour to SNP within a single year and a doubling of SNP vote percentage, while the Conservative & Lib Dems haemorraged votes. I don’t know whether it’d be enough to upgrade Inverclyde from “challenging” to “tough,” but surely it’s worth consideration as the most recent Inverclyde MP election?

    1. Definitely. All the tables were generated computationally based on published tables, and in this case these tables didn’t include information about by-elections. In other words, the information in this blog post is not complete and extra data can be added in many places to make even more convincing cases for potential SNP victories.

  4. The methodology here is completely wonky. All three approaches you have taken are liable to massively over-state the SNP vote.

    1.The Polls are expected to widen, putting Labour significantly ahead in the run-up to the election. So judging by today’s Polls is useless.

    2.The SNP tends to record far higher votes in Holyrood than Westminster, so judging 2015 by 2011 is useless.

    3. Judging SNP and Labour votes by the referendum? That’s a real howler. Anywhere up to 40% Labour voted Yes, and and around 15% SNP voted No. People were voting on the issue, not out of party-political allegiance.

    1. Thanks for your comment! Let me reply to your points:

      (1) I don’t agree that the polls are expected to widen, and I’m not sure why you think they will. Normally the sitting government gains votes in an election campaign, but neither Labour nor the SNP is in government in Westminster.

      (2) It’s true that the SNP normally underperforms in Westminster elections compared to Scottish, European and Council elections, but surely this is a historic anomaly caused by the FPTP system that will end at some point. I agree this is a reason not to be too optimistic on the SNP’s behalf, but perhaps the referendum will be the straw that broke Labour’s back and makes many voters stop voting Labour for Westminster. Time will show.

      (3) The point of including the referendum results was to show the potential success of a Yes Alliance. If the 40% of Labour voters who voted Yes can be persuaded to vote Yes Alliance to achieve independence sooner rather than later, then almost all seats are up for grabs.

    2. Isn’t it funny that it was the referendum prediction which proved to be closest after all?

      “This means that according to uniform swing, the SNP stands to win 24 seats, but if we can convince the voters to vote like they did in 2011, the SNP will get no less than 45 seats, and if we can replicate the referendum result, a total of 56 seats is possible.”

      Gotta say, Thomas called it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *