When Nat MP Tommy Sheppard spat that the ScotCon vote merely took them back to ‘the mid 1980s’, he was selling his tribe a pig-in-a-poke. His words to the Nat tribe should’ve come with a consumer warning ‘listening to his complacency might be electorally dangerous to your health’.
No matter how the Nats try and dress their loss of a majority and seats up, no amount of lipstick can stop that proverbial pig remaining a pig. Mr Sheppard urgently needs to digest some electoral facts, ignoring them is doing his side no favours. (Not that this particular 20-something LGBTory minds their complacency)
Exhibit 1: percentage concentrations
In areas where the Scots Tories have done their best, the SNP have polled their worst. This however isn’t a vice-versa scenario. The SNP have not polled their best in these tight battle grounds with the resurgent Tories. In the NE, ‘South Scotland’ and Stirlingshire the Tories are very much biting at their heels. And these are not places where the NAT collective polled their strongest (but the Tories did…QED!) Take the constituency ‘Perthshire South & Kinross-shire’, here the SNP have barely clawed on with a majority of only around 1,200 odd votes. Across the Tayside the SNP to Tory swing was averaging 12.5%.
Put it simply in constituencies where the Tories did their best, the SNP either polled their worst (the borders) or struggled to hold off SNP-to-Tory swings. Across all of the NE and ‘South Scotland’ where the SNP polled strongly, the Tories where very much in play.
This should concern the SNP. Not least because in the N.E, Tayside, borders and Edinburgh (not to mention Ayr central) – these where all formerly Tory heartlands circa 1992. The SNP succeeded in supplanting their Tory enemies back in 1997, however the vote concentration suggests their magic trick of spitting ‘Tory scum’ and ‘Tories are evil’ isn’t proving to wash much linen anymore with voters.
Exhibit 2: second place finishes
The SNP won 59 constituencies, so naturally we’d not expect to see much yellow second places. But that isn’t my main point here. The main point is how close the comparable second where. In SNP held seats, again across the NE & Tayside into Stirlingshire the second place Tories ran them close. Indeed the swings from SNP to Tory was so great that the SNP even lost Aberdeenshire West to the Scots Tories! But in places where the Tories won, the borders for example, the SNP didn’t even enjoy a comparably close 2nd place finish.
So what is the Ruth, the whole Ruth and nothing but the Ruth?
Most obviously the Scots Tories have galvanised voters in what where once former heartlands. Coming first in places, good seconds in others. Meanwhile the Nat machine has lost ground to that Tory resurgence.
The problem for Nat central on planet Sturgeon is that they’re now dominated by leftist, central belt constituencies and voter priorities. In short, the political priorities and outlook of rural, middle class and suburban communities in the NE, borders, Tayside now feature a poor second inside the Nat collective.
As the Tories regain their social vote base thought permanently lost after 1997, the SNP have ‘bagged it’ and went after Labour’s voters. Now they can’t tac right to stem the 10-12% swings to the Tories in these aforementioned ‘former Tory heartlands’, while also continuing to supplant the Labourites and Greens in Glasgow etc with a tac left.
And with an SNP minority now the case, the Nat collective will have to stop moaning about process issues. They’ll have to show up with polices, ideas, bills and acts in parliament. This means no more ‘all things to all people’ conjuring tricks like their 2016 manifesto blatantly was.