2005 United Kingdom general election in Scotland

These are the results of the 2005 United Kingdom general election in Scotland. The election was held on 5 May 2005 and all 59 seats in Scotland were contested. This was the first election to occur under the new boundaries which reduced the number of Scottish seats from 72 to 59. Previously, Scotland had a greater number of MPs per person than the rest of the UK to compensate for its distinct political nature and distance from Westminster. With the introduction of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish constituencies were brought into line with those found in the rest of the UK, so that they had similar electorates.

2005 United Kingdom general election

 2001 5 May 2005 (2005-05-05) 2010 

All 59 Scottish seats to the House of Commons
Turnout60.6%, 2.4%
  First party Second party
Leader Tony Blair Charles Kennedy
Party Labour Liberal Democrats
Leader since 21 July 1994 9 August 1999
Last election 56 seats 10 seats
Seats before 46 9
Seats won 41 11
Seat change 5* 2*
Popular vote 922,402 528,076
Percentage 39.5% 22.6%
Swing 4.5% 6.3%
UK seats 355 62

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Alex Salmond Michael Howard
Party SNP Conservative
Leader since 3 September 2004 6 November 2003
Last election 5 seats 1 seat
Seats before 4 0
Seats won 6 1
Seat change 2* 1*
Popular vote 412,267 369,388
Percentage 17.7% 15.8%
Swing 2.4% 0.2%
UK seats 6 198

Colours on map indicate winning party for each constituency.
*Indicates boundary change  so this is a nominal figure


Several years after the Scottish Parliament had been established by the Scotland Act 1998, the target electorate (population) size of Westminster Parliamentary seats in Scotland was adjusted to bring it in line with England's constituencies. Before this reform, Scotland had a smaller target electoral size per constituency resulting in more seats per head of population, which had been intended to compensate Scotland for its status as a nation, its lower population density (which causes larger constituencies geographically), its distance from the Parliament in Westminster and finally, because prior to 1999 Scottish law had been wholly determined by the UK Parliament in Westminster. These problems were perceived to have been addressed with the establishment of the devolved Scottish Parliament in May 1999.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland therefore produced a plan in 2003 in which there would be 59 constituencies, reduced from 72. In 2004, Parliament passed the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004 which instituted these changes and broke the link between UK and Scottish Parliamentary constituencies.

Three constituencies were left unchanged; the island seats of Orkney and Shetland, the Western Isles, though the latter changed its official name to the Gaelic "Na h-Eileanan an Iar", and Eastwood, which changed its name to "East Renfrewshire".[1] Several other new constituency names were also implemented; in all these cases the new seats had altered boundaries.

The notional results of the 2001 election, based on the new boundaries


Although it was impossible to guarantee a wholly accurate prediction of the strength of the parties within the 59 Scottish seats, estimates had been made prior to the poll on 5 May on the basis of a ward-by-ward breakdown of local council election results. An agreed set used by all media reports and most political commentators suggested that had the new boundaries been in effect for the 2001 general election, Labour would have won forty-six seats, the Liberal Democrats nine, the Scottish National Party four, and the Conservatives none. This would have represented a loss of ten seats for Labour and one each for the Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party and the Conservatives. The arithmetic was however complicated by the fact that the boundary revision had produced some seats that were notionally highly marginal.

The results of the 2005 general election showed some of the highest changes of the share of the vote for particular parties occurring in Scottish seats, leading some commentators to speculate that either the notional results were in error and/or they were unable to take into account factors such as tactical voting and people voting differently between general and local elections.


Labour won 41 seats, the Liberal Democrats 11, the Scottish National Party six, and in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale the Conservatives won their only Scottish seat.[2] Compared to the actual general election results of 2001, this meant a loss of fourteen seats for Labour, a gain of one seat for the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, and no change for the Conservatives.[3]

Results in Scotland for Labour were also down, though less so than in England. Labour lost approximately 4% of the vote in East Scotland and approximately 6% of the vote in West Scotland. Labour's vote declined the most in the Edinburgh area and in the north of Scotland (where Labour lost all of its rural seats).

The Conservative vote declined marginally in both East and West Scotland, but the Conservatives nevertheless managed to win a seat in the South (Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale), so maintaining their sole Scottish seat in the House of Commons. Having once been the largest party in Scotland (most recently in 1959), the 2001 and 2005 general elections had done very little to reverse the downward trend that culminated in the loss of all eleven Conservative seats in Scotland in 1997.

The Liberal Democrats made gains against Labour in both regions of Scotland and picked up a modest number of seats. On average, their vote rose approximately 5% across Scotland, though again this translated into few gains as the Liberal Democrat vote was not particularly concentrated.

The SNP's vote declined slightly across Scotland, but they managed to win one rural and one urban seat from Labour.

The Socialist Labour Party achieved its highest ever result in one constituency, gaining 14.5% of the votes cast in Glasgow North East, but yet failed to win the seat.

Results table

Party Seats Seats
Votes  %  %
Labour 41 -5 922,402 39.5 -4.5
Liberal Democrats 11 +2 528,076 22.6 +6.3
SNP 6 +2 412,267 17.7 -2.4
Conservative 1 +1 369,388 15.8 +0.2
Scottish Socialist 0 0 43,514 1.9 -1.2
Green 0 0 25,760 1.1 +1.1
UKIP 0 0 8,859 0.4 +0.3
Socialist Labour 0 0 6,696 0.3 +0.2
Christian 0 0 4,004 0.2 +0.2
BNP 0 0 1,591 0.1 +0.1
Scottish Unionist 0 0 1,266 0.1 0
Scottish Senior Citizens 0 0 1,017 0.0 0
Liberal 0 0 916 0.0 0
Turnout 2,333,887 60.6

Votes summary

Popular vote
Liberal Democrats
Parliament seats
Liberal Democrats

See also


  1. "Profile: Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour leader". BBC News. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2021. He had remained MP for the constituency after it underwent boundary changes in 2005 and was renamed Renfrewshire East.
  2. "Election 2005 | Results | Scotland". BBC News. 23 May 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  3. "General Election results, 7 June 2001" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009.