28th January 2017
Here are the results from last night:
East Ayrshire – Kilmarnock East and Hurlford
SNP 1,461 (48.7 per cent, +2.1 on 2012)
Labour Party 881 (29.4 per cent, -16.6)
Conservatives 602 (20.1 per cent, +12.7)
Scottish Libertarian Party 53 (1.8 per cent, +1.8)
This is a more impressive result than it might seem at first sight for these reasons:
- The SNP had already squeezed most of the Labour vote and persuaded them to move over in previous campaigns. To squeeze another 2.1% increase, in the middle of a term of government is still quite an achievement.
- Tory voters are more likely to turn out and distort the results when only 27% of the overall electorate turnout. 602 sounds like all the Tories in East Ayrshire, I’d say. I hope they checked that they all had pulses.
- Most important, this result was against the background of an extended BBC Scotland and other media, campaign to undermine the SNP Government’s competence in running NHS Scotland and other services.
- Related to the above, the local Crosshouse Hospital was the subject of numerous scare stories based on a statistically very small number of events and with no context.
Taking the last first, just from BBC Scotland, since November 2016 and as recently as this month, we saw/heard:
‘Inquiry call over deaths in childbirth at Crosshouse Hospital’
‘Crosshouse Hospital baby deaths review announced by minister’
‘Inspection finds Crosshouse Hospital ‘under pressure’
There were six “avoidable deaths” in eight years at Crosshouse Hospital. I don’t know how many actual births there would have been at Crosshouse in that period but in Scotland as a whole it would have been about half a million. None of the reports gave that kind of context.
More widely, since the beginning of this year, BBC Reporting Scotland has reported sixteen times, nearly every night, on a supposed ‘crisis’ in NHS Scotland, evidence –free and much exaggerated if not actually fictional.
Here’s an earlier report on that propaganda campaign, when it was one less scare:
Despite this, the SNP vote increased. Does this mean no one is watching or, if they do, trusting BBC Reporting Scotland anymore?
The other thing that strikes about this is the continued desertion of former Labour voters to one of the most right-wing Tory parties in a long time. Why were they Labour supporters in the first place if they can give up on that party’s progressive policies so easily? Don’t they realise how much they are voting against the interests of their own communities, against their own employment rights and conditions, against the interests of their elderly parents, against the interests of their disabled relatives? It’s like working-class Americans voting against their own economic interests, as they have done for decades now, just because they want to stop abortions or the presence of gays in the military?
One explanation is that it’s the older Labour voters moving right like older people (Not me!) always have, it’s said:
‘In Britain, age is a strong predictor of how someone will vote in an election. Older people are more supportive of the Conservatives, while younger people more supportive of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and more recently, the Greens. This is not a recent phenomenon. The pattern of Conservative support by age-group for five elections from the last 50 years, based on data from the British Election Study confirms this. Older people are always more likely to support the Conservatives. For example, when I voted for the first time in the 1997 election, only 23% of people my age (20) voted Conservative. In contrast, 42% of people my grandmother’s age (80) supported the Conservatives.
The ‘elephant in the room’ here is of course really a bear. Are these former Labour supporters who turn to the Conservative and Unionist Party, Rangers fans? Well, no, there’s no real evidence that’s true. See this from 2015:
‘More Rangers fans will vote for the SNP than any other party – shattering the myth Bears are all unionists
An online poll by gersnet.co.uk shows the Nationalists will win 30 per cent of the Light Blue vote, a point ahead of Labour. The popular fans forum took a sample survey size of more than 800 and as of around 9pm this morning, the poll also shows the Tories were on just 23 per cent. It’s widely thought Rangers fans are staunch unionists but Stewart Franklin, who runs the website, insists his poll proves this is no longer the case. He said: “There are too many generalisations made of Rangers fans in a social sense & this poll shows just how different our fan-base is politically.”’
Have things changed since then?
53 of them even voted for the Libertarians! Imagine East Ayrshire run by the Libertarians. It’d be like a Blackadder version of the 16th Century, with open sewers, public hangings, duels, blood feuds, men in tights and regular cholera outbreaks.
Anyhow, I say ‘well done the local SNP team.’ It was a bigger result that you’ll be getting credit for.