Thursday 22nd Jan saw a council seat by-election in Kirkcaldy East; often these pass without comment but this one is very interesting indeed and deserves examination. Why? Well, it sits within the Westminster constituency seat of one Gordon Brown, MP, who has held this since its creation in 2005. In the 2010 WM elections, Gordon Brown won the seat for Scottish Labour, with 64.5% of the vote and a 23,009 majority.
In the last council elections in 2012, Scottish Labour gained 11 seats with 38.5% vote share to become the majority party, with SNP second at 31% and Labour went into coalition with an Independent and the Conservatives. So what happened in this by-election, to replace an SNP councillor? Considering that Scottish Labour even had Gordon Brown campaigning for them, in support of Liz Easton, you may expect that the Big Man would help swing the vote and win the seat quite safely.
It didn’t follow the script; turnout fell from 35.5% in 2012 to 27.1% and Labour’s share of the vote fell 14.7%. Even with big Gordon helping them out, the SNP’s Marie Penman won the seat with a shift of almost 11% to the SNP.
It’s tempting to run away with thoughts and conclusions from this, so I’ll try and be restrained, but I think some things are obvious; Even with a former PM campaigning with them, even with Jim Murphy on our televisions and in our newspapers every day, Labour supporters did not come out and vote to support their party, turnout for Labour was down, otherwise it would have been an easy win for Labour.
Do you feel that cold, cold wind blowing across Scotland?