The limits of partisan loyalty: How the Scottish Independence Referendum cost Labour

Edward Fieldhouse, Christopher Prosser

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The 2015 General Election saw a collapse in Labour support in Scotland resulting in almost total annihilation in terms of Parliamentary seats north of the border. In this paper we show how the referendum on independence in Scotland in
September 2014 precipitated this upheaval. Drawing on theories of attitudinal and behavioral inconsistency from social psychology, we reveal how Labour supporters who voted ‘Yes’ to independence subsequently became more favorably disposed towards the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the policies that they advocated. A realignment of attitudes and voting among erstwhile Labour voters meant that those supporting independence were more likely to switch to the SNP after the referendum. We argue that the Scottish independence referendum had a profound re-aligning effect on party identification in Scotland, cementing the link between SNP voting and pro-independence attitudes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-25
Number of pages15
JournalElectoral Studies
Early online date3 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

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  • Cathie Marsh Institute


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