It was apathy that hurt the SNP in GE2017 | Autonomy Scotland

It was apathy that hurt the SNP in GE2017

YouGov have just published a report comparing how people voted in GE2015 to how they voted in GE2017.

In the report, we can see that the biggest thing that hurt the SNP was that nearly a quarter of 2015 SNP voters didn’t bother to vote at all.

The SNP had the second lowest turnout after UKIP.

Low Turnout

Of the 2015 SNP voters who did vote, 15 percent of them voted Labour and 11 percent of them voted Tory.

I would imagine that the Labour voters were inspired by Corbyn which is something we warned about pre-election as we feared it would help the Tories. Those who voted Tory were no doubt supporters of leaving the EU.

So why did so few 2015 SNP supporters turn out to vote? Probably a combination of factors.

I would speculate that these were the main issues.

  • The SNP ran a lacklustre and uninspiring campaign. In my opinion, they should really have driven home the dangers for Scotland caused by the double whammy of Brexit and continued Tory austerity. However, they didn’t really get across a clear message. Much of this was due to dialling down indyref2 rhetoric to try to counter the Tory message. This probably failed to enthuse lots of the core support.
  • Conversely, some SNP supporters don’t want indyref2 until later than Sturgeon’s timetable. Those who voted for Brexit would fall into that category. They may still support independence but not if it puts us back in the EU.
  • The SNP are seen by many to be performing poorly at Holyrood. There has been a lot of negative coverage especially with regards to education. Also, many within the Yes movement would like the SNP to be more radical with regards to things like local government, land reform and taxation.
  • That said, the debate in Scotland focused too much on devolved issues. This was mainly due to the media but the SNP need to get better at setting the agenda. The election was about Westminster and the issues at stake were very important.
  • Maybe some within the Yes movement are becoming a bit jaded. Many people have been working hard for years on the independence question and even now, post-Brexit vote, when Scotland’s lack of sovereignty could not be any clearer, support hasn’t increased. Maybe some have begun to think what’s the point?

Let us know why you think there was such a low SNP turnout below and what you think can be done about it.

Going forward I would like to see the SNP being more radical at Holyrood. I’d like to see them working on a plan for an independent Scotland to join EFTA instead of the EU.

I would also like to see them sending a strong message on how damaging a Tory Brexit will be. I would like to see them highlight the lack of control Scotland has over the Brexit process and how the sovereignty of the Scottish Parliament is in danger.

I’d like to see them sell the importance of keeping Scotland in the European Economic Area. I would like to see the SNP sticking up for indyref2 and highlighting how not having one is undemocratic as the Scottish Parliament voted for one.

Regardless of your view on independence, it is only right and proper that we are given a choice once we know the details of the Brexit deal.

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Bernard McCourtautonomyscotlandsandraDavid Recent comment authors

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Saying that people want more radical action taken in terms of taxation, unfortunately the taxtion “powers” that we have are totally inadequate and are ripe for being exploited by those who wish to avoid these Scottish taxes and stick to the UK ones.

The radical action needed is for a cross party demand for all taxation powers to be devolved to Holyrood. Then our government will be able to affect actual change.


I agree with you on income tax plus that doesn’t raise that much anyway. And I agree that full fiscal autonomy would be great. However, I was thinking about council tax when I wrote that. The SNP themselves has looked at reforming it in the past. A land value tax would be a good option. The greens currently propose it. I would like to see it being looked at seriously.

Sandra Parker

How to stop apathy – easy really, make it compulsory for people to vote, they do it in other countries and fine if they don’t, after all its hardly a hardship to get of your backside and go vote – even many disabled people manage to do it, apathy is another word for lazy

Bernard McCourt
Bernard McCourt

The argument that each individual has obligation to vote has some merit. What is often difficult to stomach though is that far too often people are grossly misinformed about the issues they are voting upon. Having individuals with negligible appreciation of the political realities they are voting upon can substantially skew what might otherwise be a healthy reflection of the public’s own “reflections” upon vitally important issues. I have heard the equally compelling opposing argument that counters “If you don’t vote for anyone you deserve the outcome” – that being “If you chose to vote for that individual then you… Read more »


I am not against the idea in principle but it has to go along with work to educate and enthuse people about politics.

Also, while making people vote would increase the numbers it might not have helped the SNP. A lot of the SNP voters may have been apathetic due to being conflicted as to which way to go.

Bernard McCourt
Bernard McCourt

On the context of “Education”; having had a look at some of the “resources” that are (or have been) provided for Scottish Secondary Schools, I was struck by the fairly specific “politicisation” of those resources. I didn’t find it to be particularly benign type of indoctrination either. Many texts appeared to essentially (un-objectively) “take the Establishment line” (which I suppose is inevitable) – but the frustrating aspect of doing so is that there is increasingly limited scope for students to perceive, develop and discuss any alternative political and constitutional “options” that might be available to them and to society. That… Read more »

Bernard McCourt
Bernard McCourt

I think it is long overdue for a proper explanation of the workings of Holyrood to be provided for the punter-in-the-street. Any and all legislation is – I presume – fully discussed and debated and ultimately modified by Committees in the process of progressing Scottish Bills. This would suggests therefore that “The opposition” are not fulfilling their “day job” of appropriate perusing Bills to ensure that they are flaw-free prior to enactment. Surely that reality needs to be drawn to the attention of the public to ensure that the claim that the SNP are ALWAYS at fault and the opportunistic… Read more »


“I think it is long overdue for a proper explanation of the workings of Holyrood to be provided for the punter-in-the-street.”

I’ll put the on my to do list.

Bernard McCourt
Bernard McCourt

“I’ll put the on my to do list.”

I was making a generic type of comment – as in “thinking-aloud”.
I can appreciate that you are certainly in a better position than most to carry that “request” out.
Wonderful ….
Thank you – in advance.

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