The obvious next subject to be addressed is: what fate awaits our custard-coloured friends, the Liberals, and who might benefit from the curdling of their modest Glaswegian support? Who could break through and where? Before getting into that, I thought it might he helpful for folk (particularly those from outwith the city) to etch something of an overview of how the council stood geographically after the 2007 elections, and how the various major parties fared in each of the city's twenty one wards. In particular, assessing concentrations of support and likely transfers will be essential calculations in assessing who might benefit from Liberal collapse.
First, a little context. I've attached an image of all of the Glasgow wards below. Underneath the number designating each, I've notched the number of councillors returned from the ward in 2007, coloured for their party allegiances (the solitary purple I in the south west of the city represents Solidarity. Liberal Democrat and SNP are orange and yellow respectively).
Since the election which generated this map, we've had the 2010 General Election, the formation of the coalition - and the 2011 Holyrood election. In 2007, both the Greens and Liberals saw an MSP elected with respect to Glasgow (Robert Brown and Patrick Harvie). In 2007, the Liberals took 14,767 votes in Glasgow (7.2% of the region, comparing to 11.3% of list votes cast nationally in their favour). Come 2011, the posterior fell through his already modest level of support in the city, their accumulated regional vote decreasing to just 5,312. Losing 9,455 votes in a trice is hardly a sign of political life prospering well, and I fancy the coalition will have done little in the intervening period to endear Liberals to their prodigal supporters. It may be that cherished local candidates shall evade the national trend - but the 2011 Scottish Parliament result can hardly warm the cockles of frostbitten Liberal councillors in the city, defending 2007's gains. A parallel local election slump seems eminently probable.
Glasgow's underperforming SNP?
A strand running through all my pieces thus far is that the SNP probably undershot in the number of candidates it fielded in 2007, but I realise, I've done nothing to justify this in terms of evidence. So ponder this. Compare the 2007 regional vote for Holyrood with how the self-same set of voters cast their ballots in the simultaneous local election. In 2011, the SNP won 39.8% of the Glaswegian regional vote to Labour's 35%. While the SNP won its first parliamentary plurality in 2007, Glasgow continued stubbornly to prefer Labour, who won 38.2% of the regional vote, to the SNP's 27%. In brute numerical terms, Labour outpolled the Nats by just over 23,000 votes. But notice that the widening gap recorded between the two parties in the simultaneous local poll held using STV. I've knocked together these two graphs, representing the differences.
While the number of Labour first preferences in wards dipped somewhat from their regional showing for Holyrood in 2007 (down 2,555), the SNP first preference vote in the local elections was 9,647 lower than their regional vote, and a massive 35,208 votes behind Labour's collection of first preferences across Glasgow.
Geographies of preference, or preferences of geography?
In 2012 in Glasgow as in 2007: a big two-beast dustup for the city. But there are interesting nuances of geography in the city worth dwelling over. I've pulled out the party preferences recorded in each of the 21 council wards depicted above, showing troughs, pinnacles and plunges as levels of party support veers from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, like the vaulting cardiogram reading of a heart patient after ten espressos.
This compares to the following SNP first preference vote in 2007, which saw a councillor apiece elected in every ward (and two in Baillieston)...
And what of the third, fourth and fifth parties: the Greens, Liberals and Tories? As the first graph appearing above records, of the three the Conservatives attracted the most first preferences in wards, but only (and only just) saw a single councillor elected to the five each won by the Liberals and Greens. One interesting and significant point of detail: the wards where a party sees a councillor returned do not neatly align with their best first preference performances. For example, the Greens currently have a councillor for Canal ward (on 703 first preference votes) and Southside Central (812), but not a sausage in Langside or Pollokshields, in which they polled initially much more strongly.
And combining all five major parties into a single, gargantuan bar chart...
So what? More on what all this behoves for the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Green parties in Glasgow anon...