Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Scottish Local Elections 2012: Falkirk


2007 Results 
14 Labour
13 SNP
3 Independents
2 Conservative
(Labour/Independent/Conservative administration)

18 SNP
16 Labour
10 Independents
9 Conservative

ScottishElections.org.uk Prediction
SNP 14-16
Labour 13-14
Independents 2
Conservative 1-2

Falkirk Council covers its eponymous town and a number of smaller surrounding towns and villages.  From 2003 to 2007, the council was run by an SNP-Independent coalition, but after the first elections under STV in 2007, a Labour-Independent-Conservative administration took control.

The council area is covered by two constituencies at Holyrood - Falkirk East and Falkirk West.  Both are currently held by the SNP, Falkirk East having been gained from Labour in 2011 with a majority of 3,535, and Falkirk West having been gained from the retiring independent Dennis Canavan in 2007 and then held in 2011 with an increased majority of 5,745.  The local MP is Eric Joyce who received widespread recent news coverage after an incident in the Strangers' Bar in the Houses of Parliament.

17 seats are required for an outright majority on Falkirk Council, so only the SNP have fielded enough candidates to do so, although Labour could win up to exactly half of the seats.  There are no Liberal Democrats or minor party candidates standing anywhere in the area.

Bo'ness and Blackness (3 seats)
2007 Result SNP / Lab / SNP
Candidates Con / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)
(2009 By-election SNP hold)

The strongest ward for the SNP in Falkirk last time based on total first preferences, they won just shy of two full quotas of first preferences and both their candidates were easily elected.  In a 2009 by-election, the SNP increased their vote share even further to hold one of their seats with a considerable majority over Labour.

The SNP vote will safely return their two candidates.  The Labour vote is significantly ahead of the Conservatives', and their seat should be easily held too.

Grangemouth (4 seats)
2007 Result SNP / Lab / Ind / Lab
Candidates Con / Ind(x3) / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

This is a more closely fought ward, which also had a sizeable independent vote for Robert Spears last time, who was elected on first preferences.  Spears is joined by two other independents this time, neither of whom have an online presence I can find anything out from.  In the other three seats, Labour easily won two last time, with the second SNP candidate only polling a few percent in first preferences.

Spears has had a lot of recent coverage and seems to be active enough to poll similarly to last time, which would hold his seat.  The other independents don't seem to be doing anything and can be assumed to poll poorly.  Labour and the SNP can be assumed to hold one seat each, though the second seat will be relatively close between the two given the swing to the SNP in Falkirk East last year.

Denny and Banknock (4 seats)
2007 Result SNP / Lab / Ind / SNP
Candidates Con / Ind(x3) / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

Another relatively close ward between Labour and the SNP, also with an independent councillor.  The Labour candidate from 2007 who failed to win a seat, Khalid Hamid, is this time standing as an independent, along with the sitting independent councillor Alex Waddell, and regeneration campaigner Brian McCabe.

The independent vote was less strong here in 2007 than in Grangemouth, when the SNP polled two quotas of first preferences and Labour were just short of that.  Waddell benefits from incumbency in defending his seat, but with two SNP and a Labour hold all very likely, the last seat will be a Labour target and likely gain from independent.

Carse, Kinnaird and Tryst (4 seats)
2007 Result Lab / Lab / SNP / SNP
Candidates Con / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

This ward is undercontested with at least one Labour and one SNP seats guaranteed regardless of votes.  In reality, the Conservatives are uncompetitive in this ward so the outcome is more or less certain.

Two easy holds each for Labour and the SNP.

Bonnybridge and Larbert (3 seats)
2007 Result SNP / Ind / Lab
Candidates Con / Ind(x2) / Lab / SNP(x2)

Again, this ward is close between Labour and the SNP, as well as having a strong independent candidate who was elected on first preferences alone in 2007.  The SNP have nominated two candidates, which seems a risky move when they won only slightly over one quota last time.

The independent councillor should be re-elected, and Labour will also hold their seat.  In the absence of any other likely competition that could slip past their split vote, the SNP should safely return one seat as well.

Falkirk North (4 seats)
2007 Result SNP / Lab / Lab / SNP
Candidates Con / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

Another ward that's undernominated, with a pretty much guaranteed result considering the low Conservative vote.

Two easy Labour and SNP holds.

Falkirk South (4 seats)
2007 Result Lab / SNP / Con / Lab
Candidates Con / Ind(x2) / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

Labour polled a fair lead here last time, with the Conservatives also managing to pick up a seat with nearly a full quota of first preferences.  One of the Labour councillors is re-standing as an independent after being deselected, but his campaign has been hit by health problems.

The two Labour seats should be fairly safe in what is a strong ward for them.  The Conservatives were considerably closer to a quota last time than the SNP were to a second, but the swings between the parties since 2007 suggests the seat is fairly competitive and a likely SNP gain.

Lower Braes (3 seats)
2007 Result Con / SNP / Lab
Candidates Con / Lab / SNP(x2)

An undernominated ward again, with one SNP guaranteed election.  This was a strong Conservative ward last time with Labour and the SNP both gaining one seat each from quite further back.

The SNP vote was nowhere near a second quota last time, so there should be an easy hold for each party here.

Upper Braes (3 seats)
2007 Result SNP / Lab / Lab
Candidates Con / Lab(x2) / SNP(x2)

Another Labour-SNP dominated ward with a Labour lead.

One Labour and SNP seat will be safe.  Around a 5% swing from Labour to SNP would tip the balance of the third seat to the SNP, and with bigger swings seen last year, the last seat should be close, probably favouring the SNP.

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