Following a ballot of members, Scottish Labour has announced provisional rankings of regional list candidates for the upcoming Scottish election. Given the party’s current polling it’s unlikely that many first past the post constituency seats are in play, so whoever is able to get elected from the top-ranking entries on these lists will make up the bulk of the Scottish Labour group of MSPs in the next Parliament.
It’s hard not to see a stark contrast between two of the results. On the one hand, in Glasgow, leadership candidate Anas Sarwar won the members’ ballot but agreed to step aside for the leading woman candidate, Pauline McNeill, in order to achieve the party’s aim of 50% of lists being topped by a woman. On the other hand in Central Scotland former leader Richard Leonard, who wasn’t even on the ballot, takes top place thanks to a deal he insisted on when resigning last month. It seems not all brothers step aside.
Scottish Labour achieved roughly a 20% share of the vote in the last Scottish election in 2016, but has recently languished in the mid teens in opinion polling. Were the party, which will be under new leadership by the time the election takes place, able to reach similar levels of support to last time, it would be reasonable on the basis of the list orderings announced today to expect a number of current MSPs to be returned.
Alongside Sarwar, McNeill and Leonard would be Mark Griffin and Sarwar’s rival for the leadership, Monica Lennon, in Central Scotland, Daniel Johnson and Sarah Boyack in Lothian, Rhoda Grant in Highlands, Claire Baker and Alex Rowley in Mid Scotland and Fife, Colin Smyth in South, and Jackie Baillie and Neil Bibby in West. In terms of new candidates who would also have a good chance of election should the vote match that in 2016, Michael Marra is a pretty safe bet in North East, while Paul Sweeney would fancy his chances in Glasgow, Foysol Choudhury in Lothian, Carol Mochan in South and Katy Clark in West. John Erskine in Highlands, Monique McAdams in Central, Mercedes Villalba in North East and Pam Duncan-Glancy in Glasgow could possibly also be elected, while Maddie Kirkman in Lothian, Martin Whitfield in South and Paul O’Kane in West shouldn’t be ruled out.
The full results are available on the Scottish Labour website.