During the previous general election in 2019, I wrote about how it was a different contest north of the border. 4.5 years on, what has stayed the same, and how has the context changed?

As it stands, the SNP hold the vast majority of Westminster seats in Scotland, elected with forty-eight in 2019. The Scottish Conservatives won six seats, the Scottish Liberal Democrats four and Scottish Labour one. The Scottish Greens don’t hold any Westminster seats and while the Alba Party hold two, both defected to the party after 2019. The reason for this difference in results compared to Holyrood is because the Scottish Parliament is elected through a partly proportional electoral system (additional member system), whereas in Westminster elections, whoever wins the most votes in each constituency is elected regardless of how high or low the proportion was (first past the post).

What are the polls showing?

Polling suggests the results this time could look quite different. Many of the seats in Scotland are marginal (the difference in votes between who won and the runner-up being very small) and therefore even a small change in support for the various parties could lead to very different electoral outcomes in constituencies across Scotland. For example, in 2019:

  • North East Fife – the Scottish Liberal Democrats beat the SNP by 1,316 votes
  • Moray – the Scottish Conservatives beat the SNP by 513 votes
  • East Dunbartonshire – the SNP beat the Scottish Liberal Democrats by 149 votes

Adding further uncertainty for candidates and parties is the fact that the boundaries for constituencies have changed (the seats above are now called Mid Dunbartonshire, Aberdeenshire North & Moray East and North East Fife respectively), making seats even more or less likely to change which party represents it. To find the constituency you will be voting in, you can use this postcode checker on the Electoral Commission website and find a full list of candidates here on the BBC News website.

What role do you wish to see the UK Parliament play in Scotland?

The Scottish Parliament holds many devolved powers which Scotland’s MPs don’t have any responsibility for. Therefore, what we will be voting for in this election is the role we wish to see the UK Parliament play in Scotland. For example, the UK Parliament holds various reserved powers over the Scottish Parliament, in areas such as immigration, asylum and visas, defence and national security and most aspects of energy policy. 

However even when issues are devolved, such as health and education, decisions made in Westminster do have an impact on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through the Barnett formula – when the UK Government increases spending on an area in England that is devolved, the devolved governments receive a proportional increase in funding.

So, people here in Scotland will vote a certain way for a variety of reasons – perhaps because of their view on Scottish independence, as a verdict on either the UK Government or Scottish Government, because of a national issue which is of particular concern to a local area (e.g. oil and gas and Aberdeen/​North East Scotland) or because of a particular candidate.

What issues do evangelicals think are most important?

In our Thinking Faithfully About Politics research, we found that 25% of evangelical Christians were undecided on who they were voting for. Evangelicals said that the top three issues facing the UK today are: the economy, poverty and equality, and justice. They also stated that the top three factors which determine their party vote are:

  • The party that will best help others who are most in need
  • The party that is most closely aligned with Christian/​biblical values
  • The party that they think will best manage the economy

Therefore, there are lots of factors evangelical Christians are considering when it comes to their vote, and candidates should take note of this when engaging with people of faith over this election period.

In addition to these considerations are how the results of the general election will set the tone of politics in Scotland ahead of the not-so-far-away 2026 Scottish Parliament election, with much of Scottish politics in flux at the moment. New First Minister John Swinney and Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes were barely in charge of the SNP for a few weeks before the election was called; the Scottish Conservatives are looking for a new leader; the Scottish Greens are no longer part of the Scottish Government; and Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats are looking towards 2026 as they pitch to the electorate. It also remains to be seen whether the Alba Party will have its first electoral win or whether Reform UK will make an impact in this election in Scotland.

How can evangelicals prepare for the election?

So as the election approaches in Scotland, we’d encourage you to do three things ahead of casting your vote:

1. Pray for the candidates in your constituency.

1 Timothy 2 clearly gives us a model to pray for those in authority over us – while only one candidate can win in each seat, it’s quite a responsibility to put yourself forward for election, and we should pray for those who do. If you have the chance to speak to any of your candidates over this election period, perhaps you can find a way to encourage them – especially if you disagree with them.

2. Decide what basis on which you are using your vote

In an election where you can only vote for one candidate, as evangelical Christians there may be a myriad of legitimate reasons behind our voting decisions. You might think a particular party’s strategy to tackle the cost of living is more effective. You might think the way that a party approaches the just transition in Scotland’s energy sector best tackles climate change and supports green jobs. You might think that your MP has stood up for values you believe in, even if you disagree with their party. You may vote tactically for a certain party because you know you live in a marginal seat. Your reason for voting as an evangelical Christian is legitimate, and we model the unity we have amidst this diversity of thought through our church communities.

3. Consider the character and integrity of your local candidates as you vote

Our Thinking Faithfully About Politics research also showed that integrity/​trust was one of the most important issues that evangelical Christians think the UK is facing today. Political authority is not transactional – it is much deeper than that. Yes, policies are fundamentally important, but let’s also should strive for a political culture of responsibility, service and grace, not self-interest or culture wars. It takes wisdom to consider how the truths of the gospel could be best represented in our voting decisions.

To think more deeply about some of the big issues at this general election, be sure to subscribe to our Cross Section podcast for our election series with many excellent expert guests across a variety of different issues, as well as our Election 2024 hub on our website.

Related pages:

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Three guiding principles for Christian women ahead of polling day

Alicia Edmund head of public policy, reflects on how our faith can help us discern which candidate to vote for and what will be influencing her vote this election
This election is pivotal for evangelicals in Northern Ireland – let’s keep praying and preparing

This election is pivotal for evangelicals in Northern Ireland – let’s keep praying and preparing

Our Northern Ireland public policy officer, Danielle McElhinney shares how the upcoming election could affect evangelicals in Northern Ireland and how we can be praying