Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A Look @: Ayrshire

Ayrshire is split into three council areas – North Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire. As in Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders and South Lanarkshire the constituency boundaries cut across local government ones. Ayrshire is relatively typical of lowland Scotland, and is a relatively solid Labour area. The results for the last council elections for North Ayrshire gave Labour 12 seats, the SNP 8 seats, Conservatives, 3, Liberal Democrats 2 and 5 for Independents leaving a Labour minority administration in place. East Ayrshire's latest council election gave 14 seats a piece to the SNP and Labour (though Labour won about 2% more of the vote), 3 to the Conservatives and 2 for Independents. Bizarrely the Liberal Democrats did not run a single candidate in East Ayrshire. The council is currently controlled by a SNP minority. South Ayrshire on the other hand currently has 15 Conservatives, 14 Labour councillors and a single independent. The council is under Conservative minority control.




Swing Needed



Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

Sandra Osbourne




LAB Hold

Central Ayrshire

Brian Donohue




LAB Hold

Kilmarnock and Loudoun

Des Browne




LAB Hold

North Ayrshire and Arran

Katy Clark





LAB Hold

Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock includes most of South Ayrshire and a part of East Ayrshire. Demographically it is mixed with Ayr itself featuring a mix of council estates and middle class areas. The rest of the constituency is an expanse of former mining villages with socialist leanings. Current MP Sandra Osbourne's crowning moment was no doubt resigning from the government in objection to the Iraq War. Since then however she has drawn criticism for asking leading questions about Conservative party policy to Gordon Brown in PMQs and being overly loyal. Connor's expenses claims for seven hundred and forty nine pounds for a chair and a stool are unlikely to win her many favours, and Ladbrokes has the Conservatives down at 3/1. Nonetheless Osbourne's majority is probably insurmountable enough to keep her safe and Conservative candidate William Grant appears not very well known, though the Conservatives will certainly cut into her majority. Lab hold.

Central Ayrshire includes the remainder of South Ayrshire and some of North Ayrshire. It is currently represented by local son Brian Donohue an old-style Labour MP who used to be a trade union official and believes in renationalisation of the railways. While such an individual would be unpopular in the South of England such views and personal history no doubt help him in a socialist area like this. However Donohue's £2,575 claims for some sofas may not help him. Conservative candidate Gary Clark is currently an assistant to a Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament and therefore not high on anybody's radar. It is unlikely that he will be able to beat Donohue's 10,000 vote majority, though it is not outside the realms of possibility (Ladbrokes is giving him odds of 8/1). Lab hold.

Kilmarnock and Loudoun is the remainder of East Ayrshire. Current MP Des Browne was Defense Secretary and Scottish Secretary until 2008. Labour's candidate Cathy Jamieson is a Scottish Labour big hitter. MSP for the nearby Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley Jamieson was Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party and was briefly acting leader in 2007 when former leader Jack McConnell resigned. She also came second in the leadership contest of 2008 to current leader Iain Gray. During her time in the Scottish Parliament she has been Education and Justice Minister (both for extended periods) and is currently Shadow Minister for Health. The SNP have sent in experienced campaigner George Leslie for what is SNP target seat number 3, and essential if the SNP is to hit its target of securing 20 seats. While Leslie has never won election anywhere he has a long history of candidature stretching back to 1967. Will this be his first win? Ladbrokes gives Leslie odds of 7/4. No doubt both Leslie and Jamieson will fight hard for this seat but I think that a 9.8% swing may be just too much for Leslie. Labour hold.

North Ayrshire and Arran unsurprisingly features the remainder of North Ayrshire. Current MP Katy Clark is as Old Labour as they come. Her great-great grandfather was a coal miner turned Labour MP. She has a long history of working for trade unions. She is a member of the 'Old Labour' organisations the Socialist Campaign Group and the Campaign for Socialism. She is the only member of the Campaign Group younger than fifty. She is also something of a rebel, voting against renewing Trident and ID cards. Her left-wing views may only aid her in this region however, and the public generally like MPs who rebel against their party. Clark has drawn fire for expenses claims for accountancy services, but these are unlikely to hurt her too much. Conservative candidate Philip Lardner would have had enough trouble overturning Katy Clark's 11,000 vote majority but then he described the white supremacist leader of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) Ian Smith as a 'hero' and defended controversial former Conservative MP Enoch Powell, considering his apparently extremist views he will be lucky to hold the Conservative vote where it is! SNP candidate Patricia Gibson is a local councillor and doesn't carry nearly as much baggage as Lardner, but nonetheless this seat looks like a Labour hold to me.

Updated 05/05/2010


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