Scottish National Party plummets from 48 to 9 MPs in general election

SNP leader, John Swinney

Aside from the Tories, the biggest losers in the UK general election, which took place on 4 July, were the Scottish National Party (SNP). They emerged bloodied with just nine MPs, down from the 48 they secured in 2019. It was a traumatising defeat for a party that has had three leaders in just over a year amid a series of crises; all rooted in their pro-capitalist, cuts-making policies that weakened their support among the working class in particular.

The SNP lost all of their MPs in Glasgow. There is now only one SNP MP across the working class heartlands of west and central Scotland. Labour, who could win only one seat in 2019, ended up with 37 MPs. Yet, the enthusiasm for Labour was negligible. As one former Tory advisor commented: “Labour’s support is a mile wide but an inch deep.”

A section of independence-supporting former SNP voters switched to Labour to get the Tories out and to protest at the SNP itself. Many others did not vote. The SNP vote share fell from 45% to 30%, while Labour’s increased from 18% in 2019 to 36%. The issue of independence for Scotland did not feature in the way it has done in previous elections since 2014.

It was the class issues around the cost of living and public services that dominated. Primarily there was just a desire to see the back of the Tories and a feeling of voting Labour was the best way to do that. Support for independence remains at 50% however. And the potential for the national question to re-emerge with a vengeance under a Keir Starmer-led Labour government is likely.

Despite Labour’s gains, turnout in Scotland fell below 60%, reflecting the deep-seated disgust towards the main parties. The Scottish Greens polled 3.8%, including sizeable votes in Glasgow where they averaged closer to 10%. Overall, the Green vote in Scotland was half of that of the Greens in England, partly as a result of the role of the Scottish Greens in an austerity-wielding coalition with the SNP at Holyrood. Since the power-sharing agreement was ended by Humza Yousaf, the Greens have been more openly critical of the SNP.

Reform, the right wing populist party, polled 7%, across the UK, beating the Tories in a number of seats. Again, the Reform vote in Scotland was around half of that in England.

See full statement by Socialist Party Scotland: Tories hammered – now build for socialist struggle – Socialist Party Scotland

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July 2024