Monday, 12 April 2010

Look @ Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders and South Lanarkshire

Predicting results in Scotland is a somewhat different business to predicting them in England. For one thing the Scottish boundaries were reviewed and changed in 2005, whereas the rest of the UK has fresh constituencies for this election, in Scotland the boundaries are the same as in 2005. The boundaries that were created are somewhat odd and often cross-over local government boundaries, (hence why this post covers three local councils, the boundaries for these constituencies cross-over all three). For another, since 2007 Scotland elects its councils via the Single Transferable Vote method rather than First Past the Post as in England and Wales. As a part of this councils are now elected every four 4 years rather than the wards rotating candidates as in England. However STV is proportional, and because the local elections are timed to coincide with the Scottish Parliamentary elections turnout was relatively high which may give us a better measure of the actual breakdown of opinion in a constituency than in England. Finally we have the presence of a fourth party, the SNP, and a different relationship between the parties due to the presence of the Scottish Parliament. In the Scottish Parliament the SNP is now the government whereas the Labour Party is the opposition. Nonetheless, we at Britain Votes will endeavour to predict these results as with any other.




Swing Needed



Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

Michael Moore





LD Hold

Dumfries and Galloway

Russell Brown




CON Gain

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

David Mundell




CON Hold

East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

Adam Ingram




LAB Hold

Lanark and Hamilton East

Jimmy Hood




LAB Hold

Rutherglen and Hamilton West

Tommy McAvoy




LAB Hold

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk represents the vast majority of the Scottish Borders council. Currently the Scottish Borders council features 11 Conservatives, 10 Liberal Democrats 6 Scottish Nationalists and 7 independents. Current MP Michael Moore (no relation to the filmmaker!) is the Scottish Liberal Democrats deputy leader (and, therefore, essentially the senior Lib Dem in Westminster) in Scotland, and was Shadow Foreign Secretary under Ming Campbell. Moore was previously a MP for one of the safest Liberal Democrat seats in Britain, Tweedale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, a seat which had previously returned former Liberal leader David Steel but the 2005 boundary review created a seat that was much more competitive. His Conservative opponent is John Lamont, Member of the Scottish Parliament for the constituency of Roxburgh and Berwickshire which covers a portion of this constituency and is such already well known amongst his potential constituents. He also has a proven record of beating Liberal Democrats managing a swing of 8.9% to defeat his last opponent! Nonetheless, Moore is a substantially larger fish, and the Lib Dems will be pouring money and activists into this seat. It will be close but LD hold.

Dumfries and Galloway as the name suggests represents the vast majority of the Dumfries and Galloway council area. Local MP Russell Brown claimed £4,755.19 for a new bathroom which may hurt him. At the 2005 election this seat was Conservative target number 2, having a notional majority of just 0.3%. Labour's success on the night was a big blow to the Conservatives, and it looked like the Tories may have been locked out of Scotland completely until they won Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale. This time around the seat is number 55 on the Conservatives list of target seats. It is therefore a vital seat if the Conservatives are to win a majority government. It is also vital if the Conservatives are to begin a resurgence in Scotland. The Conservative candidate is Peter Duncan, the former MP of Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, which covers a large portion of the new seat, and now a councillor on the Dumfries and Galloway council. The Tories won 32.2% of the vote versus 28.1% for Labour at the last local elections and this seat looks likely to turn blue. CON gain.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale is an odd constituency that combines portions of all three council areas, including the remainder of the Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders areas. It is also the only seat currently held by the Conservative Party in all of Scotland. Labour had a notional majority of 12.1% in this seat in 2005 so its gain after the loss of Dumfries and Galloway came as a pleasant surprise to the Conservatives. Owing to current MP, David Mundell's, position as the only Conservative in Scotland he currently enjoys the position of Shadow Scottish Secretary, giving him a high profile throughout Scotland. Mundell may not be too popular amongst the party faithful however after a memo was leaked to the Daily Record (which ran on page 1) in 2007 which suggested that Scottish Conservative MSPs "don't get it" and even slating Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie. This is unlikely to hurt him personally amongst the wider electorate, however, but claiming expenses for photography equipment might. Nonetheless, the force of the Conservative wave will probably be strong enough to ensure victory. Con Hold.

The remaining three constituencies are all in South Lanarkshire. The local elections in 2007 gave Labour 39.6% of the vote to 29.2% for the SNP, 11.9% for the Tories and 3% for the Lib Dems.

East Kilbridge, Strathaven and Lesmahagow is represented by Labour MP Adam Ingram who is standing down at this election. The SNP require a major swing to win this seat, and the SNP candidate, John McKenna, does not appear particularly well known. Almost certainly a Labour hold for candidate Michael McMann.

Lanark and Hamilton East is represented by Jimmy Hood who has been a MP since 1987. While his almost 12,000 vote majority may look pretty unassailable however, claiming £266.50 on expenses for some luxury pillows is unlikely to endear him to many. While the Lib Dems came second last time round, Ladbrokes has odds on a victory by SNP candidate Clare Adamson, a local councillor, down to 5/1, against 50/1 for the Lib Dems. It is possible Adamson could launch the SNP from third and cause one of the great upsets of the night, however it is unlikely. Labour hold.

Rutherglen and Hamilton West is a very safe constituency. At the last election, current MP Tommy McAvoy, who is standing down after 23 years in parliament, got 55.6% of the vote, beating his closest opponent by 37.2%. None of his opponents look particularly competitive and Labour's candidate Tom Greatex should have no trouble at all retaining his seat.


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