‘Pandas 2, Tories 1’


Do pandas really outnumber Conservative party MPs in Scotland?

Photograph of a panda walking in its enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo

Courtesy Haig

On 18 September 2014 the people of Scotland will vote in a referendum to decide whether to become an independent nation or to stay within the United Kingdom. Polling suggests that the pro-independence campaign faces an uphill battle: although a large number of Scots are as-yet undecided (around 17%) only a minority of the population — between 25–40% — support independence.

But this hasn’t dampened the Yes campaign’s spirits. A recent pro-independence rally in Edinburgh drew up to 30,000 people, many of them holding placards saying ‘Pandas 2, Tories 1’. This is an amusing reference to the two pandas at Edinburgh Zoo outnumbering Scotland’s single Member of Parliament for David Cameron’s anti-independence Conservative party. The other 58 Scottish MPs come from the Labour party, the Liberal Democrat party, and the Scottish National Party.

Chart showing number of Conservative MPs elected in general elections in Scotland, 1945–2010

As the chart above shows, Conservative party support has long been in decline in Scotland, but to have their MPs outnumbered by East Asian bears must be a little embarrassing. Patience may be all the Conservative party needs, however: since the mid-80s the Chinese government stopped giving pandas as gifts and now only loans them for ten years; any cubs born during that time belong to China. If the referendum vote goes against independence and the Right Honourable David Mundell MP can hold office until Tian Tian and Yang Guang leave in December 2021, he may well have the last laugh.

This article originally appeared as a DataMarket featured story.