2015 United Kingdom general election in Scotland

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2015 United Kingdom general election

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All 59 Scottish seats to the House of Commons
Turnout71.1% (Increase7.3%)
  First party Second party
  Nicola Sturgeon election infobox 2.jpg Ed Miliband election infobox.jpg
Leader Nicola Sturgeon Ed Miliband
Party SNP Labour
Leader since 14 November 2014 25 September 2010
Last election 6 seats, 19.9% 41 seats, 42.0%
Seats won 56 1
Seat change Increase50 Decrease40
Popular vote 1,454,436 707,147
Percentage 49.97% 24.30%
Swing Increase30.1% Decrease17.7%

  Third party Fourth party
  David Cameron official.jpg Nick Clegg by the 2009 budget cropped.jpg
Leader David Cameron Nick Clegg
Party Conservative Liberal Democrats
Leader since 6 December 2005 18 December 2007
Last election 1 seat, 16.7% 11 seats, 18.9%
Seats won 1 1
Seat change Steady Decrease10
Popular vote 434,097 219,675
Percentage 14.92% 7.55%
Swing Decrease1.8% Decrease11.4%

Colours on map indicate winning party for each constituency

A general election was held in the United Kingdom on 7 May 2015 and all 59 seats in Scotland were contested under the first-past-the-post, single-member district electoral system. Unlike the 2010 general election, where no seats changed party, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won all but three seats in Scotland in an unprecedented landslide victory, gaining a total of 56 seats and taking the largest share of the Scottish vote in sixty years, at approximately 50 per cent.[1][2] The Labour Party suffered its worst ever election defeat in Scotland, losing 40 of the 41 seats it was defending, including the seats of Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and the then Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander. The Liberal Democrats lost ten of the eleven seats they were defending, with the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and former leader Charles Kennedy losing their seats. The election also saw the worst performance by the Scottish Conservative Party, which received its lowest share of the vote since its creation in 1965, although it retained the one seat that it previously held.[3] In all, 50 of the 59 seats changed party, 49 of them being won by first-time MPs.

The general election in Scotland was fought in the aftermath of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, in which 1,617,989 voters (44.7%) backed independence while 2,001,926 (55.3%) did not. The referendum saw a record turnout of 84.59%, the "highest turnout in any nationwide ballot in Scotland since the advent of the mass franchise after the First World War". There was speculation as to whether this would significantly affect the turnout in the general election.[4][5] An immediate consequence of the referendum was a massive rise in the membership of the pro-independence parties, with the SNP in particular adding 60,000 to its membership to reach over 85,000 within two months of the referendum.[6]

Political context[edit]

Since 2005, the Scottish National Party had come first in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election as well as the 2009 European Parliament election. In Westminster, however, it was a different story: although in 2008 the party won the Glasgow East by-election, in what was one of the safest Labour seats in the UK, by the time of the 2010 UK general election and even with an increase of 2.3% in the vote, it only managed to retain the seats it had won in the 2005 general election. A year later, in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, the SNP became the first majority government since the opening of Holyrood – a remarkable feat, for the mixed-member proportional representation system used to elect MSPs makes the acquisition of a single-party majority challenging. The SNP gained 32 constituencies, 22 of which came from Scottish Labour, nine from the Scottish Liberal Democrats and one from the Scottish Conservatives. Such was the scale of their gains that, of the 73 constituencies in Scotland, only 20 were represented by MSPs of other political parties in 2011.

The SNP's majority in the Scottish Parliament allowed it to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence. This was held in 2014, and the proposal for independence was defeated by 10.6 percentage points. In spite of this, the campaign in favour of independence made a set of significant in roads across the central belt of Scotland, a region which has traditionally had a strong affiliation with the Labour Party. The Yes campaign took 44.7% of the vote in Scotland on a high turnout of 84.6%: well beyond the SNP's 19.9% vote share at the 2010 UK general election. This took form at the 2015 UK general election with a saturation of the SNP vote in areas which had a higher "Yes" vote at the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

Scottish Labour had held the majority of seats in Scotland in every general election since the 1960s. This is usually attributed to the North-South divide in British politics, where Scotland and Northern England tend to return mostly Labour MPs whereas the South of England tends to vote mostly for the Conservatives. Many prominent government officials represented Scottish constituencies, such as the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Chancellor Alistair Darling. In the 2010 election, the Labour Party in Scotland increased its share of the vote by 2.5% and re-gained the Glasgow East and Dunfermline and West Fife constituencies giving them 41 out of 59 seats in Scotland. At the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, Labour lost out to the SNP across much of the central belt of Scotland, holding on to 15 out of 73 constituency seats in Scotland.

In 2015 Labour lost 40 of its 41 Scottish constituencies at the UK Parliament, with Edinburgh South becoming the only constituency in Scotland to have a Labour MP after the election. The party lost out heavily to the SNP in working-class areas around central Scotland, with Scottish Labour's safest constituency (Glasgow North East) returning the largest swing in the election at 39.3% from Labour to SNP. The party performed best in its more affluent constituencies, with Scottish Labour's leader Jim Murphy missing out in his former constituency of East Renfrewshire by just 6.6% of the vote. Labour's next closest constituency result came in Edinburgh North and Leith, where the missed out to they SNP by 9.6% of the vote, and in East Lothian, where the SNP polled ahead of Labour by 11.5% of the vote.

In the context of a broader collapse in the party's support across Great Britain at the end five years as part of a coalition UK Government with the conservatives, the Scottish Liberal Democrats lost 10 of its 11 Westminster constituencies from 2010, with its safest constituency in Great Britain - Orkney and Shetland - becoming the only Liberal Democrat constituency in Scotland. They marginally lost out to the SNP in East Dunbartonshire, where former Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson lost out to the SNP by 4% of the vote. Among those to lose their constituency at the election were former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander. The Liberal Democrats came third in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, constituencies which they had held in the previous election.

The Scottish Conservatives have not held a majority of Scottish seats in a general election since 1955 and it lost all eleven of its seats in the election of 1997. From 2001 until 2017, the party only held one Westminster seat in Scotland. In 2005, following the re-organisation of Scottish constituencies, that seat was Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, a mostly rural constituency near the Scottish borders. In 2010 its share of the vote in Scotland increased by roughly 0.9% and it retained the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, as its only Scottish constituency. It had been reported the party could gain Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk,[7] a seat which they lost out on to the SNP by 0.6% of the vote.

Minor parties such as the UKIP and the Scottish Greens announced that they would contest more Scottish seats than they did in the 2010 election. UKIP targeted the sole Conservative seat in Scotland, as well as standing candidates in several others. The British National Party also announced its intention to contest more seats than in 2010, though in the event did not stand a single candidate in a Scottish constituency.[8][9] The Scottish Socialist Party stood in four constituencies.[10]

The prospect of an electoral alliance between pro-independence parties—specifically the SNP, the Greens, and the Scottish Socialist Party—was raised after the referendum and supported by elected SNP politicians,[11] but played down by Green co-convenor Patrick Harvie, who said party members did not want their "distinctive Green perspective" to be lost.[12] The SSP supported negotiations for a formal alliance until late in 2014.[13][14]

Campaign events[edit]

  • 31 March – The first official day of the election campaign got under way, with the Scottish Greens becoming the first party to launch their manifesto.[15][16]
  • 7 April – First TV debate was broadcast on STV[17]
  • 8 April – Second TV debate was broadcast on BBC Scotland, with UKIP and the Scottish Greens included.
  • 10 April – Ed Miliband visits Edinburgh, claiming the SNP's aim to have full control of tax in Scotland would create a £7.6bn financial "black hole".[18][19]
  • 12 April – Third TV debate was broadcast on BBC Scotland, between the four main parties. The debate was criticised, with many of the public claiming it was a "Rammy".[20][21]
  • 21 April – Sir John Major entered into the row, and repeated claims by David Cameron that an Labour-SNP government would be a "recipe for mayhem" and entering blackmail.[22] A number of former Conservative ministers entered into the debate claiming deep unease about the rhetoric. Lord Tebbit described Cameron's repeated warnings about the SNP as "puzzling" and "pointless", and might even push Scots to vote tactically for Labour.[23] Lord Forsyth claimed it was playing a "short term and dangerous game" which could further threaten the union.[24][25][26] Ed Miliband rejected the claims, while Nicola Sturgeon labelled Sir John's comments as "Silly over the top and an affront to democracy".[27]
  • 4 May – Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and comedian Eddie Izzard were heckled by opponents while campaigning in Glasgow city centre, with the scene descending into scuffles. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon condemned the scenes but said they had "nothing to do with the SNP".[28][29][30][31] The following day the SNP placed two members under "administrative suspension".[32][33]

Television debates[edit]

As in 2010, there were televised debates ahead of the election, featuring the leaders of the four main Scottish parties.[34] The first debate was broadcast on STV on 7 April. The second debate was held on BBC One Scotland on 8 April with additional representatives from the Scottish Greens and UKIP. A follow-up date a few days later took place on Sunday Politics Scotland, The debate was criticised, with many of the public claiming it was a "shambles".[20][21] The last debate took place on 3 May.[35][36][37]

Date Organisers Venue Viewing figures  P  Present   S  Standing-in   NI  Not invited   A  Absent   I  Invited  
Con Lab SNP LD Green UKIP
7 April STV Edinburgh P
8 April BBC Scotland Aberdeen P
12 April BBC (Sunday Politics Scotland) Glasgow P
3 May BBC Scotland Edinburgh P

The leaders from each of the main parties are:

Opinion polling[edit]


Party[38] Seats Votes
Total Gains Losses Net +/- % seats Total votes % votes Change
SNP 56 50 0 Increase50 94.9 1,454,436 50.0 Increase30.1
Labour 1 0 40 Decrease40 1.7 707,147 24.3 Decrease17.7
Conservative 1 0 0 Steady 1.7 434,097 14.9 Decrease1.8
Liberal Democrats 1 0 10 Decrease10 1.7 219,675 7.5 Decrease11.3
UKIP 0 0 0 Steady 47,078 1.6 Increase0.9
Green 0 0 0 Steady 39,205 1.3 Increase0.7
Independent 0 0 0 Steady 2,455 0.1 N/A
CISTA 0 0 0 Steady 1,807 0.1 New
TUSC 0 0 0 Steady 1,720 0.1 Steady
Scottish Christian 0 0 0 Steady 1,467 0.1 Steady
Others 0 0 0 Steady 1,378 0.0 N/A
2,910,465 71.1 Increase7.3

Votes summary[edit]

Popular vote
Liberal Democrats
Parliament seats
Liberal Democrats

List of constituencies by party[edit]

2015 UK General Election (Scottish Westminster Constituencies)
Party Constituency
Liberal Democrats

Target seats[edit]

Labour Party[edit]

Rank Constituency Winning party 2010 Swing Required Labour's place 2010 Result
1 Dundee East SNP 2.27% 2nd SNP hold
2 East Dunbartonshire Liberal Democrats 2.28% 2nd SNP gain
3 Edinburgh West Liberal Democrats 4.09% 2nd SNP gain
4 Argyll and Bute Liberal Democrats 4.47% 3rd SNP gain
5 Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale Conservative 4.57% 2nd Con. hold

Liberal Democrats[edit]

Rank Constituency Winning party 2010 Swing Required Liberal Democrat's place 2010 Result
1 Edinburgh South Labour 0.36% 2nd Lab. hold
2 Edinburgh North and Leith Labour 1.82% 2nd SNP gain
3 Aberdeen South Labour 4.07% 2nd SNP gain
4 Dunfermline and West Fife Labour 5.58% 2nd SNP gain
5 Glasgow North Labour 6.58% 2nd SNP gain

Scottish National Party[edit]

Rank [39] Constituency [39] Winning party 2010 Swing Required SNP's place 2010 Result
1 Ochil and South Perthshire Labour 5.14% 2nd SNP gain
2 Argyll and Bute Liberal Democrats 6.37% 4th SNP gain
3 Gordon Liberal Democrats 6.92% 2nd SNP gain
4 Falkirk Labour 4.53% 2nd SNP gain
5 Dundee West Labour 9.80% 2nd SNP gain

Conservative Party[edit]

Rank [39] Constituency [39] Winning party 2010 Swing Required Conservative's place 2010 Result
1 Argyll and Bute Liberal Democrats 3.79% 2nd SNP gain
2 West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Liberal Democrats 4.07% 2nd SNP gain
3 Angus SNP 4.32% 2nd SNP hold
4 Perth and North Perthshire SNP 4.53% 2nd SNP hold
5 Banff and Buchan SNP 5.23% 2nd SNP hold

Individual MPs[edit]

Re-elected MPs[edit]

Of the 59 sitting MPs from Scotland at the dissolution of Parliament, 52 stood for re-election, but only 9 were successful:

Other notable MPs[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Election 2015: SNP wins 56 of 59 seats in Scots landslide". BBC News. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  2. ^ Settle, Michael (8 May 2015). "SNP crush Labour in historic poll as Tories sweep to power". The Herald. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  3. ^ Hutcheon, Paul (10 May 2015). "Scottish Tories: worst vote share in its history". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Will the Scottish Referendum Reignite Britain's Interest in Politics?". 9 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Scotland's referendum will boost turnout in the 2015 election". 16 September 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  6. ^ "SNP could win majority of Scottish seats, says campaign director Angus Robertson". The Herald. 15 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  7. ^ "The Tories could win more seats in Scotland than Labour or the Lib Dems". May2015: 2015 General Election Guide.
  8. ^ "Ukip plans to sweep Tories out of Scotland". 11 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Scottish Tory MP will face Ukip challenger". 12 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  10. ^ "SSP 2015 – candidate microblogs". Scottish Socialist Voice. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Three SNP MSPs say: Let's fight election as 'Yes Alliance'". 20 September 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Greens play down joint Yes election bid". 19 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Scotland: Spirited socialist conference tackles post-referendum challenges". 1 November 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  14. ^ "SSP gives up on SNP electoral alliance". Morning Star. 8 December 2014. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  15. ^ "Manifesto launch: Scottish Green Party unveils 'bold vision'". BBC News. 30 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Scottish Greens launch election manifesto". scotsman.com.
  17. ^ "Scotland Decides - Scottish independence referendum debates - STV". STV Scotland Decides. Archived from the original on 11 April 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  18. ^ "Election 2015: Labour and SNP in tax 'black hole' row". BBC News. 10 April 2015.
  19. ^ Record Reporter (10 April 2015). "Ed Miliband hits campaign trail in Edinburgh with Labour leader claiming SNP will 'sell Scotland short'". dailyrecord.
  20. ^ a b "TV debate: It's a rammy at the BBC". Herald Scotland.
  21. ^ a b Cramb, Auslan (12 April 2015). "Nicola Sturgeon refuses to rule out second referendum in lifetime of next UK parliament". The Daily Telegraph.
  22. ^ "Election 2015: Sir John Major warns of Labour-SNP deal". BBC News. 21 April 2015.
  23. ^ Andrew Sparrow (21 April 2015). "Election 2015 live: Tebbit – Cameron's SNP scare tactics risk driving Scottish Tory voters to Labour". The Guardian.
  24. ^ Nicholas Watt (20 April 2015). "Tories playing dangerous game in Scotland, says Conservative peer". The Guardian.
  25. ^ "Election 2015: Labour v Tories row over SNP intensifies". BBC News. 21 April 2015.
  26. ^ "Tory grandees at odds over tactics on SNP". Financial Times.
  27. ^ "Former Prime Minister Sir John Major on Labour SNP general election - Scotland Decides". STV Scotland Decides. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  28. ^ "Election 2015: Scuffles as Jim Murphy campaigns". BBC News. 4 May 2015.
  29. ^ Press Association (4 May 2015). "Comedian Eddie Izzard slams violent nationalist protestors following ugly scenes as he joined Jim Murphy in Glasgow". dailyrecord.
  30. ^ http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/05/04/eddie-izzard-jim-murphy-glasgow-rally_n_7203100.htm[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ "Eddie Izzard and Jim Murphy Labour rally cut short amid angry scenes - Scotland Decides". STV Scotland Decides. Archived from the original on 6 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  32. ^ David Clegg (5 May 2015). "Pictured with Nicola Sturgeon: The organiser of the Glasgow protest which First Minister said was 'nothing to do with the SNP'". dailyrecord.
  33. ^ "Election 2015: SNP suspends two members after Murphy demo". BBC News. 5 May 2015.
  34. ^ "BBC invites Scottish party leaders to general election debate". 13 October 2014. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  35. ^ "Election 2015: BBC Scotland unveils party leader debate plans". BBC News. 24 March 2015.
  36. ^ "Scots leaders' debate: Labour 'won't consult SNP'". scotsman.com.
  37. ^ "Analysis: A tetchy TV debate between four tired leaders". Herald Scotland.
  38. ^ "Scotland Results". BBC News.
  39. ^ a b c d "Battleground Seats". scotlandvotes.com. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015.