Behind a surprise Tory majority, the rise of the Scottish National Party was one of the biggest stories of the 2015 election.
In 2017, the question now is how many of those 56 seats the SNP will hold. Nicola Sturgeon’s party took all but three Scottish seats two years ago, and a great deal has happened since then. The United Kingdom voted for Brexit, her Holyrood government has gained another two years of a record, and there’s talk of another independence referendum. On June 8th, Scotland’s mood for independence or unionism may be tested again.
For any party looking to make Scottish inroads, they must contend with large SNP majorities. Only one of the 56 SNP seats was won by under 1,000 votes. Almost half, 27, were by majorities of over 10,000. Seat after seat broke the swingometer last time, and this leaves the Tories and Labour with hills to scale.
UK Election 2017: SNP Majorities To Defend
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk is the most vulnerable SNP seat this time around, but given how substantial these majorities are, is it likely that many seats will flip? It does seem like the SNP built Rome in a day with their 2015 wave, but can it be similarly undone two years later?
Last week’s YouGov poll of Scotland showed the SNP at 42 percent in Scotland. This would be a drop of eight percent from the last election. Applied uniformly, the SNP still wins a bunch of seats. In fact, they hold most of their 56, but shed a few of the most marginal. The likely beneficiaries at this point appear to be the Tories, who at 29 percent are up 14 from the last vote. Labour still appears moribund north of England while the Lib Dems are reduced to a fourth-place non-factor.
Interestingly enough, that same survey shows 55 percent of Scots opposed to independence. That nearly mirrors the 2014 referendum result.