The Biggest Losers

Which of the SNP’s 50 MPs will lose their seats?

The Biggest Snp Losers

As we head towards a UK General Election, where a resurgent Labour is expected to form the next government by a wide margin, thoughts turn to those hapless SNP MPs who will likely lose their seats. As Warren Buffett said, ‘Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.’ And in the upcoming election, the electoral tide is going to go so far out against the SNP, it will leave the majority of its MPs metaphorically naked, out in the cold and wondering where their yellow swimsuits went.

It’s a far cry from the SNP’s past General Election triumphs. Following the near clean sweep of Scotland’s seats in 2015, there was a temporary correction in 2017 when the SNP lost 21 seats, which is generally attributed to Ruth Davidson, but more correctly attributed to voter disdain for Nicola Sturgeon’s incessant whining about independence. In the snap election of 2019, though, Scottish voters ignored the Boris v Corbyn shootout and returned 48 SNP MPs, thus ensuring a 4th consecutive Conservative Westminster Government, as happens every time Scotland returns a majority of SNP MPs.

As we approach the 2024 General Election, the outlook has dimmed considerably for the SNP. Last week, a Norstat poll for the Sunday Times showed the SNP is on track to lose 33 of the seats it won in 2019; virtually all to Labour. What would this mean in terms of well-known SNP faces on the Westminster benches? These are some of the high-profile SNP/Alba MPS who stand to lose their seats:

  • Anum Qaisar in Airdrie & Shotts
  • Steven Bonnar in Coatbridge and Bellshill
  • Neale Hanvey (Alba) in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath
  • Kenny MacAskill (Alba) in East Lothian
  • Angus MacNeil (Independent) in Na h-Eileanan
  • Stewart McDonald in Glasgow South
  • Alison Thewliss in Glasgow North
  • David Linden in Glasgow East
  • Tommy Sheppard in Edinburgh East and Musselburgh

Additionally, the following SNP MPs will be stepping down prior to the General Election

  • Stewart Hosie – Dundee East
  • Douglas Chapman – Dunfermline and West Fife
  • Phillippa Whitford – Central Ayrshire
  • Mhairi Black – Paisley and Renfrewshire South
  • Ian Blackford – Ross, Skye & Lochaber
  • Angela Crawley – Lanark and Hamilton East
  • Patrick Grady – Glasgow North
  • Peter Grant – Glenrothes
  • John McNally – Falkirk

Lastly, Lisa Cameron, elected as an SNP MP in East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, left the party and joined the Conservatives last year. She now sits in the Commons as a Conservative MP but is almost certain to lose her seat, again to Labour, in the General Election.      

That’s 19 well-known SNP faces we won’t see any more. In addition, the following SNP MPs are highly vulnerable to removal if voters tactically vote.

  • Jo Cherry in Edinburgh South West
  • Pete Wishart in Perth and Kinross-shire
  • Stephen Flynn in Aberdeen South
  • Chris Law in Dundee Central
  • Patricia Gibson in North Ayrshire and Arran
  • Kirsten Oswald in East Renfrewshire

All very gloomy for the SNP. But which of their MPs is least vulnerable? Unfortunately, the following SNP MPs are unlikely to lose their seats:

  • Dave Doogan in Angus and Perthshire Glens
  • Drew Hendry in Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire
  • Brendan O’Hara in Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber

Polling, in the UK generally but particularly in Scotland, shows several things:

  • The SNP vote share will undoubtedly fall.
  • The Conservative vote share will fall dramatically from its 2019 peak, when it was inflated by the Corbyn factor that damaged Labour so badly.
  • The Labour vote share will rise as the party takes votes from both the SNP and the Conservatives.
  • The influence of the Lib Dems in Scotland is declining as they are no longer able to attract sufficient votes in the Highlands and Western Isles.
  • The Greens, Alba and Reform will not win seats in Scotland.

Add the inevitable fallout from the increasingly rancorous departure of Humza Yousaf from Bute House and, with only six months until the impending election, the SNP looks utterly adrift.

New First Minister John Swinney is many things, but not even he would pretend to be an inspirational electoral figure who can reverse polling trends. He’s yesterday’s man, an adoring, loyal deputy at best. “Everyone needs a Willie”, Margaret Thatcher famously said of her trusty sidekick Willie Whitelaw. Conversely, no-one needs a hapless, bungling no-hoper with an appalling history of misconduct in the chamber and its inquiries. Make no mistake, the desperation with which John Swinney has been shoehorned into Bute House encapsulates the panic felt throughout the party following the disastrous 13 months of Humza’s leadership.

The SNP in Westminster will be unrecognisable after this year’s General Election. They are very unlikely to remain the UK’s third largest party, as the Lib Dems will almost certainly reclaim third place. 

Prospects for the Holyrood party are similarly dire in the Scottish elections, two years after the UK General election. A devastating General Election defeat with no prospect of progress towards the party’s primary goal of independence, combined with 17 years of poor governance, means that the party will be unable to regain momentum.

But first, the General Election. The extent to which the SNP’s Westminster representation falls is solely down to voters in constituencies where the combined pro-UK vote share exceeds the SNP. That will necessitate an element of tactical pro-UK voting. And that is another discussion to be held as election day draws closer.

David Griffiths is a political analyst. Follow him on Twiiter/X: @Erudite4Unity

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Written by David Griffiths

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