Scotland has had one of the most interesting recent electoral histories of any part of the UK. In the 1950s it looked like much of the rest of the UK. Rural areas voted Conservative and urban areas Labour. Glasgow and its environs sent a huge band of Labour MPs to Westminster. The north east, Perthshire, Stirlingshire and the affluent areas around Edinburgh did the same for the Tories. The highlands and northern isles also had a strong liberal tradition. In 1955 Labour won 34 seats in Scotland, the Conservatives 36 and the Liberals 1.

The story of the 60 years since is dominated by the rise of the SNP and the subsequent collapse of first the Conservative then the Labour vote. The SNP’s rise began in the 1970’s when they built a base of support in the more rural parts of north eastern Scotland such as Banffshire, Moray and Perthshire. There big breakthrough in a general election was in February 1974 when they gained six seats to add to the one they got in 1970. In the October election of that year they won 30% of the vote and added another four MPs to peak at 11.

This was not to last as the Labour and Conservative votes recovered in 1979 and only 2 SNP members would join the 44 Labour, 22 Conservative and 3 Liberals at Westminster. Despite this recovery the Labour and Conservative votes were in long term decline. The first big blow came in 1987 when the Tory vote dropped below 25% and their complement of MPs was cut in half from 21 to 10. Next came the humiliation of 1997 as they were wiped out in Scotland winning only 17% of the vote.

In the late 80’s and 90’s the collapse of the Scottish Tories was mostly to Labour’s benefit but the SNP would strike back in the new century. Labour introduced devolution to Scotland in 1998 and would go on to win the first three elections to the new Scottish Parliament. However a dead heat election in 2007 delivered Alex Salmond to office and began the slow march towards an independence referendum that would transform Scottish politics.

At this point Scottish voters seemed to be voting differently in elections to Holyrood then to Westminster. Labour’s vote share at the UK election in 2010 was up 3 points and they gained an MP. However in the Holyrood election that followed in 2011 the SNP won a majority and with it the mandate to call a referendum on independence for Scotland.

Although they would lose the referendum and Salmond would be replaced by his deputy Nicola Sturgeon the SNP saw a rush of support following the referendum. They swept aside Labour in 2015, winning 50% of the vote and all but three of the seats. Labour and the Conservatives staged a revival in 2017 but were pushed back in 2019. The SNP won 48 seats in 2019 out of 59 on 45% of the vote. They remain the strongest party in Scotland at all levels of government. However, it should be noted that both Labour and the SNP have benefitted from the electoral system for Westminster elections. Labour won 56 out of 72 seats in 1997 on 46% of the vote which is similarly disproportionate to the SNP wins in 2015 and 2019. In a more proportional electoral system the swings in seat share would not have been as dramatic (if you assume people would have voted the same way).

General Election Time Series

Seats Won in Scotland 1955-2019

Share of the Vote Won in Scotland 1955-2019

Polling Index

Polling Average for UK General Election Voting Intention in Scotland

2019 General Election

Seats Won in Scotland in 2019, by Region

Share of the Vote Won in Scotland in 2019, by Region

Share of Seats Won in Scotland in 2019, by Region

Change in Vote Share and Seats Won in Scotland in 2019, by Region

Local Government Composition

Local Councils Held 1973-2023 in Scotland

Local Council Seats Held 1973-2023 in Scotland

Election Model Forecast for Next Election

ConstituencyCountyNotional Winner 2019Forecast WinnerClassificationForecast Party ChangeBattleground
Aberdeen NorthGrampianSNPSNPLikely0NA
Aberdeen SouthGrampianSNPSNPLean0Scotland
Aberdeenshire North and Moray EastGrampianCONCONLikely0Scotland
Airdrie and ShottsLanarkshireSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Alloa and GrangemouthStirlingshireSNPSNPLikely0NA
Angus and Perthshire GlensTaysideSNPSNPLikely0Scotland
Arbroath and Broughty FerryTaysideSNPSNPLikely0NA
Argyll, Bute and South LochaberHighlands and IslandsSNPSNPLean0Scotland
Ayr, Carrick and CumnockAyrshireSNPToss-Up1Scotland
Bathgate and LinlithgowLothianSNPLABLikely1NA
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and SelkirkBordersCONCONLikely0Scotland
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter RossHighlands and IslandsSNPToss-Up1Scotland
Central AyrshireAyrshireSNPToss-Up0Scotland
Coatbridge and BellshillLanarkshireSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Cowdenbeath and KirkcaldyFifeSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Cumbernauld and KirkintillochDunbartonshireSNPLABLikely1NA
Dumfries and GallowayDumfries and GallowayCONToss-Up0Scotland
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and TweeddaleDumfries and GallowayCONCONLikely0Scotland
Dundee CentralTaysideSNPToss-Up0NA
Dunfermline and DollarFifeSNPLABLikely1NA
East Kilbride and StrathavenLanarkshireSNPLABLikely1NA
East RenfrewshireRenfrewshireSNPToss-Up0Scotland
Edinburgh East and MusselburghLothianSNPLABLikely1NA
Edinburgh North and LeithLothianSNPLABLikely1NA
Edinburgh SouthLothianLABLABSafe0NA
Edinburgh South WestLothianSNPToss-Up0NA
Edinburgh WestLothianLIBLIBLikely0Scotland
Glasgow EastGlasgowSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Glasgow NorthGlasgowSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Glasgow North EastGlasgowSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Glasgow SouthGlasgowSNPLABSafe1NA
Glasgow South WestGlasgowSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Glasgow WestGlasgowSNPLABLikely1NA
Glenrothes and Mid FifeFifeSNPLABLikely1NA
Gordon and BuchanGrampianCONCONLikely0Scotland
Hamilton and Clyde ValleyLanarkshireSNPLABSafe1NA
Inverclyde and Renfrewshire WestRenfrewshireSNPLABLikely1NA
Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shireHighlands and IslandsSNPSNPLikely0NA
Kilmarnock and LoudounAyrshireSNPToss-Up0NA
Lothian EastLothianSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Mid DunbartonshireDunbartonshireSNPToss-Up1Scotland
Moray West, Nairn and StrathspeyHighlands and IslandsSNPToss-Up0Scotland
Motherwell, Wishaw and CarlukeLanarkshireSNPLABSafe1Scotland
Na h-Eileanan an IarHighlands and IslandsSNPLABSafe1Scotland
North Ayrshire and ArranAyrshireSNPSNPLean0NA
North East FifeFifeSNPLIBLikely1Scotland
Orkney and ShetlandHighlands and IslandsLIBLIBSafe0Scotland
Paisley and Renfrewshire NorthRenfrewshireSNPLABLikely1NA
Paisley and Renfrewshire SouthRenfrewshireSNPLABLikely1NA
Perth and Kinross-shirePerthshireSNPToss-Up0Scotland
Stirling and StrathallanStirlingshireSNPSNPLikely0NA
West Aberdeenshire and KincardineGrampianCONToss-Up0Scotland
West DunbartonshireDunbartonshireSNPLABLikely1NA

Abbreviations used in the table: CON = Conservative, LAB = Labour Party, LIB = Liberal Democrats, SNP = Scottish National Party (SNP), GRE = Green Party, UKI = UK Independence Party (UKIP), REF = Reform UK