Friday, 16 April 2010

Look @: Argyll and Bute and West Dunbartonshire

West Dunbartonshire is a local council on Glasgow's North West side. To West Dunbartonshire's North West is the great expanse of Argyll and Bute local council, which is truly the beginning of Highland Scotland. There is a delightful contrast here between the two seats, one a fairly typical Lowland Scotland Glasgow-border seat and the other a fairly typical Highland Scotland seat.




Swing Needed



Argyll and Bute

Alan Reid





LD Hold

West Dunbartonshire

John McFall




LAB Hold

Argyll and Bute is a massive and inaccessible constituency, highly rural, the constituency also contains 26 inhabited islands off the West coast of Scotland and has more coastline than France. Argyll and Bute is the second largest council area in the United Kingdom (only the Highlands council area is larger). As befitting a remote Scottish region the area has a strong local identity and does not typically identify with any of the major parties. This can be seen in the large number of Independents on the council who, at 16, form the largest group. For their 22.2% of the vote the SNP has 10 seats, for 19.2% the Lib Dems got 7 seats, for 15.3% the Conservatives got 3 seats and for 3.7% of the vote the Labour Party got 0 seats (though they did not run candidates in every ward). In 2001 Argyll and Bute was the only four way marginal in the country but with the enlargement of the constituency in 2005 the constituency is now primarily a fight between Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid and his Conservative opponent Gary Mulvaney. While Labour only just came third here in 2005 they have bigger fish to fry defending seats elsewhere and it is unlikely that Labour PPC David Graham will get much in the way of support. The SNP hold the equivalent Scottish parliamentary seat (which of course still abides by the same borders as from 2001) but SNP candidate Mike MacKenzie is unlikely to secure the 15.5% swing he needs to defeat Reid, especially as, the SNP, like Labour, have bigger fish to fry elsewhere. That said he may act as a spoiler on Reid gaining Labour support that would go to him and gaining Lib Dem support as well. Lib Dem MP Alan Reid is Lib Dem spokesman for Northern Ireland and Scotland. He claimed £1,580 for B&B and Hotel stays in his own constituency but the large size of his constituency and the dependency on ferries to get around much of it seems like a fair reason for the claims. The Conservatives are fighting hard for this seat and it has been home to a high profile visit by William Hague. Conservative PPC Gary Mulvaney is a local councillor who claims to be 'no standard Tory'. A former communist, Mulvaney touts his cross-party credentials, standing on the liberal 'One Nation' side of the Conservative Party and counting councillors from other parties within his friends. Considering the performance of the parties, and the sizeable Lib Dem majority, I think this one is a Lib Dem hold.

West Dunbartonshire is pretty typical of the Greater Glasgow urban conurbation with a Labour MP with a large majority over a SNP opponent. The last local elections gave Labour 10 seats, the Scottish Nationalists 9 seats, 2 independents and 1 councillor for the Scottish Socialist Party. Subsequently the 2 independents and the SNP formed a coalition. Labour MP John McFall has been a whip and a junior minister and was named 'Consumer Champion' by Which? magazine for his efforts to improve financial services as part of his role as Chair of the Treasury Select Committee. He is standing down at this election as he has reached 65, in his words the "normal retirement age". Sir Thomas Legg found that McFall needed to pay back no expenses. Labour's candidate is Gemma Doyle, a former parliamentary researcher to John Reid who is just 27 years old. SNP candidate Graeme McCormick was the candidate for the Dumbarton constituency, which covers some of this constituency, in the 2007 Scottish election, and a candidate for Strathkelvin and Bearsden Westminster constituency in 1997. In the latter role he enjoyed the largest swing of any losing SNP candidate, and in the former he slashed Labour's majority from 6,500 to 1,500. Nevertheless McFall's 12,553 vote majority is likely to be beyond the experienced campaigner. Labour hold.

Article updated 05/05/2010

1 comment:

  1. Too many predictions are based on 2005 results, a complete waste of time following the 2007 Holyrood results and 2009 European results.

    In Scottish terms this election is almost impossible to predict, especially if you insist on using 2005 as your base.