To the general surprise of most political commentators and to the disappointment of quite a few the Scottish Nationalist Party not only failed to obtain an upset victory at the Inverclyde bye election but came a distant second to Labour. Though the SNP vote increased considerably this was at the expense of the Liberal Democrats whose vote collapsed. The Labour vote held firm.
Followers of this blog will find nothing surprising about this result. It exactly repeats the results of the Scottish Assembly elections in May. Those elections have been misreported and misunderstood as a disaster for Labour whereas in reality the Labour vote held firm. What the Scottish Assembly elections and the Inverclyde bye election both show is a collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote in Scotland as Scottish voters who formerly voted Liberal Democrat react extremely negatively to the Liberal Democrat Party’s coalition with the Conservatives in Westminster. What the Scottish Assembly elections and the Inverclyde elections also show is that these former Liberal Democrat voters for the moment overwhelmingly prefer the SNP to Labour so that the increase in the SNP vote is almost exactly proportional to the collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote.
Since what these voters at the moment are doing is registering a protest vote this is not surprising. The reason many of these voters voted Liberal Democrat in the first place was because they are anti Labour. The SNP provides them with the perfect vehicle to register their protest vote without voting Labour. This does not mean that these voters necessarily support independence. Nor does it mean that the SNP will win a general election in Scotland given that as I said in a previous post in such a general election when Scottish voters will be voting for a government in Westminster and not registering a protest vote or voting for an Assembly in Scotland the dynamics of the contest will be completely different.