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Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005, 02:16 GMT 03:16 UK
What do the by-election results mean?
Political analyst Professor John Curtice assesses the parties' performances as Labour wins the Livingston and Glasgow Cathcart by-elections with reduced majorities and falls in turnouts.

I think we can say that the SNP boat is still sailing, but they are still trying to find their propeller.

I think perhaps the most instructive thing to do is to look at Glasgow Cathcart and actually compare it with 1999.

If you compare it with 1999, the first Scottish election, the SNP vote is still six points adrift of what they managed to achieve then, despite the fact that the Scottish socialist vote has fallen back and Pat Lally's vote has fallen back. I think that suggests that there's still a long way for the SNP to go.

Vote counting
The number of votes cast was well down in both by-elections

I think they'll be disappointed that the Lib Dem vote at least held up in Livingston and it progressed a bit in Cathcart.

That suggests that across Scotland as a whole there probably is still a contest going on between the SNP and the Liberal Democrats for the second place in votes at least.

Certainly if you look at other Westminster by-elections between 1997 and 2001, there were a number in Paisley and Hamilton where the swings were much higher than we've seen in Livingston.

'Relief' for Labour

The Labour Party I think can take quite some considerable relief from the results certainly after what happened in South Staffordshire in the special election there where their vote fell down very heavily.

But at the same time they should bear in mind that in Glasgow Cathcart, for all the talk about victory being an endorsement, only one in eight of the people there voted for the Labour Party.

I think I take the view that the Scottish Socialists do have things to worry about.

Jim Devine
Delight and relief for Livingston victor Jim Devine

Yes it is a by-election, but the truth is if you look at other by-elections in Glasgow Anniesland and Hamilton South they did significantly better then than they did in Glasgow Cathcart.

Their share of the vote has more than halved and I think we've got further evidence combined with what we saw in May 2005 that the SSP bubble post Tommy Sheridan may indeed have burst.

I think the Conservatives certainly can take some encouragement of increasing their vote a bit in Cathcart.

But on the other hand they got squeezed in Livingston. All that suggests is they're still bumping around at somewhere at the 15-17% mark. We're still waiting for the Conservative revival in Scotland.



SEE ALSO
Labour keeps Cook's Commons seat
29 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Labour victory in Cathcart seat
30 Sep 05 |  Scotland



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