7 May 2012

Garscadden, Drumchapel and Maryhill... (Vol V of VII)

Gadzooks. We're already more than half way through Glasgow's wards, and what an interesting and diverse series of pictures have emerged.  This morning, our playground is the north western portions of the city, and Garscadden/Scotstounhill, Drumchapel/Anniesland and Maryhill.  The first two were the first wards on counting day where Labour had put up three would-be councillors in four-seat wards.  Thus far, we've seen Nationalists swiping seats from the Greens and Solidarity, but if the SNP were seriously taking the fight directly to the Labour Party across the city, one would hope to see the second Nationalist candidate within spitting distance of the third Labour candidate here, and ousting them.  

Maryhill, by contrast, represented another opportunity for the Nationalists to overcome an ailing Liberal Democrat vote, and nab a second seat in the ward from them.  They did so, but when you look into the detail of what transpired there, and who transferred to who, it turns out the Liberals were damned unlucky to lose it, and the SNP graced with only the most pinched of leads over them, to take the ward's fourth council seat.

13.  Garscadden
Elects four councillors.
2007 Result: 3 LAB, 1 SNP.
Result in 2012: 3 LAB, 1 SNP (No change)




Three easy wins for the Labour Party here, and the first indication on count day that Labour looked likely to sail on towards regaining overall control of the Council, and a slim but very satisfactory majority.  Liz Cameron, Paul Rooney and the SNP's Graeme Hendry all tidily exceeded quota on first preferences.  While the remaining Labour (Kelly) and SNP (Wilson) candidates started off cheek by jowl in the first round (551 votes to 400), Kelly's Labour comrades had generous transfers to splash about, and in a two-round trice, he'd put on 452 and then 424 votes.  This heavy propulsion at his back, Kelly had put 952 votes between himself and his Scottish Nationalist adversary. 

By this point, things were essentially hopeless for the SNP. Even if every Green, Tory, Liberal, Anti-Cuts, Glasgow-First, Christian, UKIP and Independent ballot had transferred, and transferred to them, they'd still have languished 235 votes behind Kelly.  In terms of intra-SNP transfers, Garscadden was a further good showing.  On Hendry's elimination, Kelly received 139 of the 178 surplus votes going begging: a transfer rate of 78%.  A last diverting detail.  While still languishing in the No-Hopers column, the Christian Party did rather well in Garscadden, attracting a respectable 135 first preferences, actually outpolling the Liberal Democrats here by a not-to-be-sniffed at 45 votes.

14.  Drumchapel/Anniesland
Elects four councillors.
2007 Result: 3 Labour, 1 SNP.
Result in 2012: 3 Labour, 1 SNP (No change).



A second four seater, breaking three for Labour, with just a single councillor returned for the SNP, their second candidate left dilly-dallying, not really in close contention. Although only narrowly ahead of the second Nat in Drumchapel, strong transfers soon promoted Judith Fisher, the third Labour candidate in the ward, to an unassailable 559 vote lead over her main competitor. Her slow ascent towards the quota was mirrored by equally slow and modest transfers for John Dochety from eliminated Greens, Liberal Democrats and Tories. Again, on transferring, the Liberal vote fractured right across the remaining field, the Tories gaining 32 (25%), the SNP 36 (28%), Greens 31 (24%) and Labour 28 (22%). When the Green vote fell, 23 next-preferences flew into the Tory pile (17%), 54 for Labour (39%) with the remaining 60 ballots pushing up Docherty's poll for the SNP (44%).

15.  Maryhill
Elects four councillors.
2007 result: 2 LAB, 1 SNP, 1 Liberal Democrat.
Result in 2012: 2 LAB, 2 SNP (-1 Lib Dem, +1 SNP)



Both Drumchapel and Garscadden look fairly sedate: all smooth lines, low inclines.  Like the Labour vote in the west of Scotland, it is all heavy inevitability, with none of the flash and élan of a volatile race.  Not so in Maryhill.  The headline result in the ward was grand for Nationalists, confiscating a second city ward from the collapsing Liberal Democrats.  Interestingly, however, if you peer into cogs of the allocation, you'll find that unlike Hillhead and unlike Partick, in Maryhill Alex Dingwall came exceedingly close to retaining the seat for the Liberal Democrats.  But for a handful of extra votes in the second SNP candidate's pile, Margot Clark of Linn would have had a party colleague in the council.  

Howso? Again, it all comes down to transfers from defeated candidates. Martin Rhodes for Labour achieved his quota on the first round, and as we've come to expect, gave his running-mate a 210 vote leg-up.  Mohammed Razaq, by slow degrees, accumulated the transfers he needed to exceed quota in the sixth round. Nationalist transfer discipline looked good here too.  When John Letford's surplus was reallocated, Franny Scally (SNP) attracted 76% of them (181 of 239 going begging). 

Where things got really interesting and volatile, however, was when Tory and Green candidates started to be eliminated as the lowest performing candidates in the field.  Before this point, Scally enjoyed a 320 vote lead over Dingwall.  Of the 413 Tory votes which transferred to the remaining field, these went very strongly to the Liberal candidate, in an instant narrowing Scally's lead over him to just 91 votes.


Next to fall were the Greens.  Their transfers were much more evenly distributed across the remaining Lib-Lab-SNP field, but again, favoured the Liberal Democrat over the Nationalist candidate by 10%.

After this, Franny Scally's SNP lead over Dingwall was once again reduced, to a very svelte 47 votes.  The logic of the allocation being what it is, however, even a single, fractional vote lead would be sufficient to eliminate the lowest-scoring candidate when only two candidates remain standing.  So Dingwall crashed out, but this was another exceedingly narrow victory for the Nationalists, and a hope too for Liberals, with an eye to their future survival or revival.  Even now, at the height of their malignity, the party put up a decent showing in Maryhill, still attracting modest first preference support - but much more importantly, very strong next-preferences from vital and strongly-performing competitors in the race.  Thus far, most of the media have just been reading these local election results on the basis of overall wins and defeats, in terms of majorities gained or not-gained or lost.  Delving a little deeper into the STV process shows you all the other interesting things going on, and restores a sense of the racing closeness of some of these contests.

Coming next: Canal, Springburn and East Centre...

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