Live Blog: Scottish and Welsh election results. Tories on track for comfortable second in Wales as SNP plot path forward

12.00

  • It’s all a bit quiet on the northern front results-wise, although Matt Singh as kindly taken the time to tweet a health warning about reading too much from the Aberdeenshire results.
  • A ballot paper has also been seized over an incident of suspected voter impersonation in Edinburgh.
  • Talk is already turning to what happens next, with two strands of the SNP strategy emerging. First, Sturgeon says she will press ahead with a referendum bill and challenge the Government to see her in court.
  • Second, Nationalist ministers will reportedly be touring the world to try and drum up international support, in order to ‘shame’ the Prime Minister into granting a referendum. (It is not obvious that the Prime Minister would weigh a stern word from Joe Biden more heavily than derailing his entire agenda for the next few years and risking becoming the next Lord North.)

Wales:

  • In Wales, Tory activists are highlighting the challenge I have previously written about on this site: voters who back the party at general (and even local) elections scorning the Senedd. One organiser said: “Tory target was 75 per cent of 2019 vote – my my calculations we only achieved 52 per cent”.
  • Nonetheless the consensus seems to be that the Conservatives will end up with 16 0r even 17 seats, comfortably above their previous best of 14 in 2011.
  • There is already debate about the best way forward, with some suggesting the party should focus less on middle-class constituencies such as Cardiff North in favour of trying to reach out to Valleys voters who previously backed UKIP.

11.00

Henry Hill reporting.

Good morning. Here’s a quick round-up of what came in overnight. Then we’ll resume the live blogging as results come in over the afternoon.

Scotland:

  • Two results last night put an SNP majority back in doubt. First, Jackson Carlaw held Eastwood for the Conservatives with an increased majority.
  • Second, Labour’s Jackie Baillie pulled off a spectacular win in Dumbarton, previously Scotland’s most marginal seat. The change in vote shares suggests a relatively rare instance of decisive tactical voting by unionists.
  • As a result, all eyes must now be on Aberdeenshire West, where the Tories are defending a majority of 900 over the Nationalists. That the Conservatives slashed the SNP majority in neighbouring Aberdeenshire East seems a good omen.

Wales:

  • The overnight result confirmed a remarkable stasis, with only three constituencies changing hands overall. The Conservatives took one apiece from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, whilst Labour took one from Plaid.
  • Overall, Welsh Labour are apparently on track for 30 seats, which matches their previous best-ever performance. They could once again govern in coalition with the lone Lib Dem.
  • The Conservatives are on track to be comfortably the largest opposition party, overtaking Plaid Cymru. But activists are disappointed after the party missed out on several key targets whose Westminster analogues fell during the 2017 election.
  • Likewise, Abolish the Welsh Assembly are facing a painful post-mortem after getting “massacred”, in the words of one senior member. Their initial feeling is that “the support all ran back to the Tories”, but almost every poll showed them on track for seats.

19.30

  • The party has held two seats in Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire and Dumfriesshire.
  • But as expected, the SNP have won Edinburgh Central, which was a surprise personal victory for Ruth Davidson in 2016.
  • Speaking of Davidson: if you want an idea of how the Scottish Conservative campaign is going, she is disowning it. She joins those Tories already furious at the decision to deliberately amplify the SNP’s claims about a second referendum.

Speculation:

  • As far as the election goes, the SNP still have a path to an overall majority through seats such as Dumbarton, Eastwood (although see below), and West Aberdeenshire.
  • There are suggestions that Labour have asked for a recount in Dumbarton, where the margin is reportedly around 25 votes.
  • One senior Scottish Tory has suggested to me that the party ought to seriously consider not standing candidates in parts of Scotland. Presumably the hope is that these voters will back other pro-UK parties, but time and again Tory voters have proven unwilling to do this.
  • Another said that the result should prompt a re-examination of the level of autonomy granted to SCHQ.
  • This seems to be a good place to re-post my original piece warning the Tories not to over-state the importance of Davidson’s personal impact, as opposed to deeper structural factors, underlying the party’s strong performances in 2016 and 2017.

That’s all from this thread this evening. See you tomorrow for the list results and the overall shape of the next Scottish and Welsh parliaments.

18.30

  • Gower. Wrexham. Delyn. The list of Conservative constituency targets missed just keeps growing. Seats whose Westminster counterparts went Tory in 2019 but where the party has once again failed to break through in the Senedd. Wrexham, in particular, was described by one activist as a “disaster”.
  • Sources are also pessimistic about both Cardiff North and Vale of Glamorgan, with some suggesting that the party erred by focusing resources on the latter race. There is more optimism about Brecon & Radnorshire, where the Conservatives are gunning for the Lib Dems’ last constituency seat.

Speculation:

  • There is still an expectation that the Conservatives will advance overall thanks to making some gains in the list. Some also seek a silver lining in the fact that Labour’s resilience may reduce their reliance on Plaid Cymru in the next parliament.
  • But overall, this is shaping up to be a big disappointment for Tory activists in Wales, especially when contrasted by the big advances the party is making in parts of England.

17.30

  • John Scott, the Conservative MSP for Ayr, has lost by 170 votes. He is too far down the list to be re-elected and will leave the Scottish Parliament. His majority last time was 750.
  • The SNP have taken a seat off Labour in East Lothian.
  • This might end up being a wash overall because both seats are in the South of Scotland region, the only one where the Nationalists return list MSPs.
  • Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats have missed out on a top target in Caithness – suggestions that their leader, Willie Rennie, may be on ‘resignation watch‘.

16.30

  • A gain for the Conservatives in Vale of Clwyd, a seat whose Westminster counterpart is held by James Davies MP. But activists are maudlin, saying that the “result is not a good indication at all, even with a win”.
  • Leanne Wood, the former leader of Plaid Cymru, has lost Rhondda back to Labour. Twitter suggests she “stormed out of the count“.

Speculation:

  • There are reports that the party could lose Aberconwy to the Welsh nationalists, and fall short in a number of targets where they were hoping to oust Labour. If this comes to pass, their performance will contrast badly both with the 2019 general election result and the astonishing Tory results being posted in England.
  • Key question: why are they failing to consolidate UKIP’s substantial 2016 vote? That election suggested there is space for a right-wing ‘bloc’ of around 20 seats, with marginal Conservative progress. If voter patterns settle down again, have the Conservatives missed the boat on realignment?

15.30

  • The Conservatives have fallen short in Banffshire and Buchan Coast, an area where they have managed to retain MPs at Westminster. There was a substantial swing to them from the Nationalists, but not enough. This is also the area of Scotland that almost voted Leave.
  • If the SNP didn’t lose this, the odds of their losing any seats are minimal. However, John Curtice says that they are not currently doing well enough for a majority.
  • Some on Twitter are blaming Labour and the Lib Dems for denying a pro-UK MSP, but the problem has always been that a chunk of their voters simply will not vote Tory.

Speculation:

  • But there are rumours that there could be good news for the Conservatives elsewhere, as per the above tweet. Could be a product of a concerted effort by pro-UK sources – especially the Scottish Daily Mail – to get pro-UK voters to give their regional vote to the Tories.

14.30

  • The Conservatives have doubled their majority in Montgomeryshire, benefiting from the absence of UKIP. Most parties vote share is up a bit save for the Lib Dems’, which as fallen by almost 11 points.

Speculation:

  • Despite the above, the chatter seems to be of an overall disappointing election for the Conservatives relative to expectations. One local source said: “Well at the beginning we thought we were doing well across Wales. But now it’s sliding – seats which should have been a shoe in are tight.”
  • Why might this be? Two suggested reasons: first, that Plaid Cymru’s poor performance means the left/nationalist vote isn’t splitting.
  • Second, that the Conservatives have once again failed to mobilised the hundreds and thousands of their voters who usually sit out devolved elections. “The party think they’ve killed the Abolish vote, but that could be at the expense of keeping it at home.”
  • Does the Montgomeryshire result auger ill for the Lib Dems in neighbouring Brecon and Radnorshire? They had a big majority last time but it was competitive in 2011, the corresponding Westminster seat is safely Tory, and popular incumbent Kirsty Williams is standing down.

13.30

  • We’re starting to get some results in. Aberdeen Donside is an SNP hold but with a swing to the Conservatives.
  • The Liberal Democrats have also held their safe seat of Orkney, albeit with the Nationalists up.

Speculation:

  • Tory sources suggest that there is evidence of unionist tactical voting in constituencies that already have a pro-UK MSP. If this holds, they think it will be very difficult for the SNP to secure an overall majority.
  • However they do expect the Nationalists to take Edinburgh Central, which was a surprise gain for Ruth Davidson in 2016. They say this was a fluke and a personal vote, and the party did not expect to retain it. This will put Angus Robertson, formerly the SNP’s Westminster leader, in Holyrood.
  • Word is that Alba have ‘bombed’, although they may pick up one or two seats. Their main impact may have been persuading SNP voters to split their tickets… for the Greens, who may take two or three list seats apiece off the Conservatives and Labour as a consequence.

12.00

Henry Hill reporting.

  • Results will soon start to come in from counts across Scotland and Wales. These elections could cast a long shadow over the rest of this Parliament if Boris Johnson is forced into a pitched battle for the future of the Union.
  • In Scotland, there has been a huge surge in turnout. Unionists were initially extremely gloomy about this, but there are reports that it is also up in areas pro-UK parties were targeting.
  • In Wales, sources last night suggested that the Conservatives were feeling bullish, with a sense that the wind had come out of Abolish the Assembly’s sails over the past week or so.

Results to watch out for in Scotland:

  • Will the Scottish National Party secure an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, or will they be forced once again to come to an arrangement with the Greens?
  • Will the Scottish Tories hold on to second place, and defend marginal constituencies such as Eastwood?
  • Conversely will Anas Sarwar’s Labour claw back second place, and hold ultra-marginal seats such as Dunbarton?
  • Will either Alex Salmond (Alba Party) or George Galloway (All for Unity) manage to secure a seat?

Results to watch out for in Wales:

  • Can the Conservatives build on the success of the 2019 general election and exceed the 14 seats they won in 2011?
  • Will Abolish manage to consolidate enough of the old UKIP vote (which took seven seats in 2016) to win a place in the Senedd?
  • Can the Tories build on the ‘red wall’ dynamic to start eating into traditional Labour seats (such as Torfaen). Can they take Gower?
  • Can the Liberal Democrats hold their last seat in Brecon and Radnor, and if not will they get wiped out in Wales?
  • Will Labour end up depending on a deal with Plaid Cymru to govern? Can they take Rhondda back from Leanne Wood?

Click this link for the original source of this article.
Author: Henry Hill


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