Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Fisking a Scotsman

A Google Alert has delivered an odd reference to my constituency in the form of an opinion piece from yesterdays Scotsman.
It's called "Could Scots hand Howard keys to No 10?" and it's written by Professor Matt Qvortrup, research chair in the department of economics and public policy at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.
The Professor may be a fellow citizen of Aberdeen, and a quick google confirms that he is certainly a Professor, but I'm afraid I still have to take issue with his article. There are one or two points which I'd like to question. It's not really a fisking, I just like the word.


First, there is the general point raised by this paragraph:
With a bit of the luck that favours the prepared mind and a low turnout, Conservatives could pick up close to half of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster - if we are to believe opinion polls in the first two weeks of the campaign. In short, the Scots will be the ones who effectively decide the outcome. A low turnout in Scotland could pave the way for a return to Conservative rule.

First lets accept that the Tories might win "close to half of the 59 Scottish seats" (I'd say that's pretty unlikely but that's just my opinion). For simplicity, I'll assume the Tories win 30 seats. Labour has a majority of 163 so losing 30 to the Conservatives still leaves a majority of around 100. I can't see much evidence for Scots handing Howard the keys to No 10 here. In fairness, the Professor does say "Much will still depend upon results from other parts of the UK."

That still leaves me with the problem of the reference to Aberdeen South:
In Ayr, Sandra Osborne is defending a precarious majority. With the Tories running a strong second in 2001, chances are the seat will go blue on 5 May. The same scenario is plausible in Aberdeen South, where Labour’s Anne Begg is under threat.

I can't speak for Ayr but I've included it to put the quote in context. I can say something about my own constituency.

Aberdeen South: 2001 General Election Result

Anne Begg (Lab) 14,696 39.84%
Ian Yuill (LibDem 10,308 27.94%
Moray Macdonald (Con) 7,098 19.24%
Ian Angus (SNP) 4,293 11.64%
David Watt (SSP) 495 1.34%
Electorate: 58,907 Turnout: 36,890 (62.62%) Majority: 4,388
Source: The Scotsman

So the Conservatives were 3rd. They were over 3000 votes behind the Lib Dems and over 7000 votes behind Labour. I can't see how it is plausible that Aberdeen South will "go blue".
But wait, what about the boundary changes? Aberdeen South in 2005 is not the same as Aberdeen South in 2001. Perhaps this will explain the Professor's claim.

Aberdeen South: 2001 Nominal General Election Result after boundary change

Labour 38.0%
Liberal Democrat 28.6%
Conservative 19.8%
Others 13.6

The boundary changes have increased the Conservative vote by an approximate 0.6%.
That's not it then. All of which leaves me wondering whether the Professor might just be a strong Labour supporter. I don't like to think badly of people so perhaps I'm wrong. Professor, if you read this, please feel free to email me to explain why you think it is "plausible" that Aberdeen South could go blue. Perhaps my lack of education is letting me down.

In the mean time, I'd just like to remind people that, in my humble opinion, only Labour or the Liberal Democrats can win in Aberdeen South. And if you are not sure if you live in the constituency, here is a handy map.

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