Are the Liberal Democrats facing annihilation?

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by Brian Nicholson

Annihilation is on the horizon for the Scottish Liberal Democrats unless the polls turn around dramatically in this election. In 2007, the LibDems gained 16 per cent of the vote in the constituencies and recent polling puts them at less than half of that amount today.

Two weeks ago, we published an estimate of where the LibDem vote will go, and who will benefit. However, that estimate was based on the LibDems holding on to 70 per cent of their 2007 vote. Even the most ardent of LibDems are no longer expecting the vote to remain at that level. As a result, we have revised the projections based on a more prudent expectation where the LibDems only hold on to half their 2007 vote. Recent polling plus the Wick by-election indicate that even this projection is optimistic but it serves for our revised calculation.

The analysis is based on the 2007 actual results reconfigured into 2007 notional results, as prepared by Professor David Denver of Lancaster University.

For the sake of direct calculation, we have assumed the same turnout and same share of the vote for each of the other parties in the election. The only variable is the LibDem vote. This vote has been apportioned according to the following two formulae which it is believed is a reasonable estimation of the range of vote split from the LibDems to the other parties.  

The 2007 recorded LibDem vote will be split as follows

 

  Option 1 Option 2
Labour 2: SNP1 Labour 2: SNP1 Labour 1: SNP 2
  0  
Lib Dem retained 50% 50%
Lib Dem to Labour 30% 15%
Lib Dem to SNP 15% 30%
Lib Dem to Conservative 3% 3%
Lib Dem to other 2% 2%

The intent is to calculate the two extreme options wherein the lost LibDem vote would migrate to the two largest parties.

This change was then applied to the 10 constituencies where Professor Denver calculated that the  LibDem Party  would still be winners, based on the results of the 2007 Holyrood election transferred to the new boundaries: the Notional 2007 Results.

The results show a staggering impact on the fortunes of the LibDems and may have great impact on which party forms the next Scottish Government.

 


 

1: Caithness, Sutherland and Ross
Highlands and Islands Region
  Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
      (50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 12,030 (40.4%) 6,015 (20.2%) 6,015 (20.2%)
SNP 9,480 (31.9%) 11,285 (37.9%) 13,089 (44.0%)
Labour 3,941 (13.2%) 7,551 (25.4%) 5,747 (19.3%)
Conservatives 3,288 (11.0%) 3,649 (12.3%) 3,649 (12.3%)
Others 1,023 (3.4%) 1,264 (4.2%) 1,264 (4.2%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

29,763   29,764   29,764  
RESULT     SNP Gain SNP Gain

 


 

2: Orkney
Highlands and Islands Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 4,113 (47.5%) 2,057 (23.8%) 2,057 (23.8%)
SNP 1,637 (18.9%) 2,254 (26.0%) 2,871 (33.2%)
Conservatives 1,632 (18.9%) 1,755 (20.3%) 1,755 (20.3%)
Labour 1,134 (13.1%) 2,368 (27.4%) 1,751 (20.2%)
Others 137 (1.6%) 219 (2.5%) 219 (2.5%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

8,653 8,653 8,653
RESULT Labour Gain SNP Gain

 


 

3: Shetland
Highlands and Islands Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3 Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 6,531 (66.7%) 3,266 (33.4%) 3,266 (33.4%)
SNP 1,622 (16.6%) 2,602 (26.6%) 3,581 (36.6%)
Conservatives 972 (9.9%) 1,168 (11.9%) 1,168 (11.9%)
Labour 670 (6.8%) 2,629 (26.8%) 1,650 (16.9%)
Others 0 (0.0%) 131 (1.4%) 131 (1.4%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

9,795 9,796 29,796
RESULT Lib Dem hold SNP Gain

 


 

4: Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch
Highlands and Islands Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 11,318 (41.8%) 5,659 (20.9%) 5,659 (20.9%)
SNP 8,534 (31.6%) 10,232 (37.8%) 11,929 (44.1%)
Labour 3,857 (14.3%) 7,252 (26.8%) 5,555 (20.5%)
Conservatives 3,170 (11.7%) 3,510 (13.0%) 3,510 (13.0%)
Others 170 (0.6%) 396 (1.5%) 396 (1.5%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

27,049 27,049 27,049
RESULT SNP Gain SNP Gain

 


 

5: Edinburgh Central
Lothian Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 8,679 (30.8%) 4,340 (15.4%) 4,340 (15.4%)
Labour 7,960 (28.2%) 10,564 (37.4%) 9,262 (32.8%)
SNP 6,392 (22.6%) 7,694 (27.3%) 8,996 (31.9%)
Conservatives 5,173 (18.3%) 5,433 (19.2%) 5,433 (19.2%)
Others 20 (0.1%) 194 (0.7%) 194 (0.7%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

28,224 28,224 28,224
RESULT Labour Gain Labour Gain

 


 

6: Edinburgh West
Lothian Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 13,300 (39.6%) 6,650 (19.8%) 6,650 (20.2%)
SNP 7,541 (22.5%) 9,536 (28.4%) 11,531 (34.4%)
Conservatives 7,018 (20.9%) 7,417 (22.1%) 7,417 (22.1%)
Labour 5,156 (15.4%) 9,146 (27.3%) 7,151 (21.3%)
Others 546 (1.6%) 812 (2.4%) 812 (2.4%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

33,561 33,561 33,561
RESULT SNP Gain SNP Gain

 


 

7: Edinburgh South
Lothian Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 11,731 (36.4%) 5,866 (18.2%) 5,866 (18.2%)
Labour 7,776 (21.4%) 11,295 (35.0%) 9,536 (29.6%)
Conservatives 7,194 (22.3%) 7,546 (23.4%) 7,546 (23.4%)
SNP 5,533 (17.2%) 7,293 (22.6%) 9,052 (28.1%)
Others 0 (0.0%) 235 (0.3%) 235 (0.3%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

32,325 32,235 32,235
RESULT Labour Gain Labour Gain

 


 

8: Aberdeen South and North Kincardine
North East Scotland Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 10,134 (35.8%) 5,067 (17.9%) 5,067 (17.9%)
SNP 8,063 (28.5%) 9,583 (33.8%) 11,103 (39.2%)
Labour 5,080 (17.9%) 8,120 (28.7%) 6,600 (23.3%)
Conservatives 5,040 (17.8%) 5,344 (18.9%) 5,344 (18.9%)
Others 0 (0.0%) 203 (0.7%) 203 (0.7%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

28,317 28,317 28,317
RESULT SNP Gain SNP Gain

 


 

9: Aberdeenshire West
North East Scotland Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2 Other) (50LD – 15Lab: 30SNP: 3Con: 2 Other)
Lib Dem 12,332 (40.9%) 6,166 (20.5%) 6,166 (20.5%)
SNP 8,553 (28.4%) 10,403 (34.5%) 12,253 (40.7%)
Conservatives 7,387 (24.5%) 7,757 (25.7%) 7,757 (25.7%)
Labour 1,753 (5.8%) 5,453 (18.1%) 3,603 (12.0%)
Others 111 (0.4%) 358 (1.2%) 358 (1.2%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

30,136 30,136 30,136
RESULT SNP Gain SNP Gain

 


 

10: North East Fife
Mid Scotland and Fife Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50LD: 30Lab: 15SNP: 3Con: 2Other) (50LD: 15Lab: 30SNP: 3 Con: 2Other)
Lib Dem 12,435 (42.3%) 6,218 (21.2%) 6,218 (21.2%)
Conservative 7,869 (26.7%) 8,242 (28.0%) 8,242 (28.0%)
SNP 6,169 (21.0%) 8,034 (27.3%) 9,900 (33.7%)
Labour 2,312 (7.9%) 6,043 (20.5%) 4,177 (14.2%)
Others 638 (2.2%) 887 (3.0%) 887 (3.0%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

29,423 29,423 29,423
RESULT Conservative Gain SNP Gain

 


 

Analysis

If the polls are correct and the Liberal Democratic vote is dropping by at least half, then it appears that the party is in serious danger of being wiped out in all the constituencies.  Even the bedrocks of Orkney, Shetland, and North East Fife are endangered by the collapse.

The prime beneficiary of the drop appears to be the Scottish National Party who are poised to take the constituencies of CAITHNESS, SUTHERLAND AND ROSS; SKYE, LOCHABER AND BADENOCH; ABERDEEN SOUTH AND NORTH KINCARDINE; ABERDEENSHIRE WEST;  and EDINBURGH WEST.  They also have the potential to pick up in ORKNEY, SHETLAND AND NORTH EAST FIFE.

Labour is also poised to pick up EDINBURGH SOUTH and EDINBURGH CENTRAL and have an outside chance in ORKNEY.

Even the Conservative and Unionists have a chance to pick up  NORTH EAST FIFE in a close and split vote.

Without a major turnaround in the polling figures, the Liberal Democrat constituencies face annihilation with only SHETLAND possibly holding out for the party. Party leader Tavish Scott may be the only consituency MSP for the LibDems in the new Parliament.

Already we see the SNP moving resources into these areas hoping to pick them off. In the next few weeks, expect to see all hands on deck in the LibDem ship as they try to stave off a disaster. Look for any movement of Conservative resources into North West Fife as well. That step might confirm an impending meltdown for the LibDems.  

The impact of the collapsing LibDem vote may also impact a great number of Labour-SNP marginals. Depending on where that vote ends up, it could be a significant swing to one or the other.

Where goeth the LibDem vote may very well decide this election.{jcomments on}

1: Caithness, Sutherland and Ross
Highlands and Islands Region
Notional 2007 Results Projected 2011 Results Projected 2011 Results
(50 LD – 30 Lab – 15 SNP – 3  Con – 2 Others) (50 LD – 15 lab – 30 SNP – 3 Con – 2 Others
Lib Dem 12,030 (40.4%) 6,015 (20.2%) 6,015 (20.2%)
SNP 9,480 (31.9%) 11,285 (37.9%) 13,089 (44.0%)
Labour 3,941 (13.2%) 7,551 (25.4%) 5,747 (19.3%)
Conservatives 3,288 (11.0%) 3,649 (12.3%) 3,649 (12.3%)
Others 1,023 (3.4%) 1,264 (4.2%) 1,264 (4.2%)

TOTAL VOTES CAST

variations due to rounding

29,763 29,764 29,764
RESULT SNP Gain SNP Gain

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