Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Look @: Falkirk and West Lothian

Another case of constituencies that cross local government boundaries in the Falkirk and West Lothian local government areas! Like most of Lowland Scotland the area is pretty solidly Labour.




Swing Needed




Eric Joyce




LAB Hold

Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Michael Connarty




LAB Hold


Jim Devine




SNP Gain

Falkirk constituency covers most of the Falkirk council area. At the 2007 local election Labour got 36.2% of the vote and 14 seats, the SNP got 35.1% and 13 seats, the Tories got 13.5% and 2 seats and the Liberal Democrats got 0.8% of the vote and 0 seats (though they only ran one candidate in one ward). Current MP Eric Joyce was an Army Major who left the Army after describing the forces as “racist, sexist and discriminatory”, after a series of junior positions in the government he resigned from his position as parliamentary aide to defence secretary Bob Ainsworth due to concerns over the War in Afghanistan. Eric Joyce has claimed the most expenses of anybody in the House of Commons, and admits to over-claiming by £160,000. Normally his 13,000 vote majority would be more than enough to guarantee his victory and Ladbrokes has odds on a SNP victory down to 3/1. This will be close, and SNP councillor John McNally is sure to personalise the campaign a lot. Nonetheless, I think Labour will just about hold this one.

Linlithgow and East Falkirk combines the East of Falkirk with the West of West Lothian. The seat is held by Michael Connarty who is the fifth highest claiming MP! Connarty is unlikely to achieve popularity having told the Daily Telegraph that its actions in the expenses scandal constituted a “criminal act” and that it would “have to answer for its actions in court”. His claims include £211.91 for an iPod docking station, and £191.49 for headphones. Normally SNP candidate Tam Smith wouldn't stand a chance, even if this is SNP target number 7, but Connarty's misdeanours have reduced his odds on Ladbrokes to 5/2! With a severely weakened opponent the SNP look extremely competitive here and I suspect they will just pip Labour. SNP Gain.

It’s an expenses triple in Falkirk and West Lothian! Livingstone was the constituency of Tony Blair’s first Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who famously resigned from the government due to the Iraq War. Tragically he died in 2005, not long after securing the seat with a 13,000 vote majority. Labour candidate Jim Devine won the seat in the ensuing by-election by a reduced majority of 2,680, though the low turnout of 38.6% means the result is less than representative (the figures used here are general election result). However there may have been a high ‘personal vote’ for Cook. Jim Devine’s expenses turned out to be so bad that he is actually being prosecuted for false accounting! Devine’s expenses claims included invoices for companies that did not exist and inevitably he was deselected and barred from standing as a candidate for Labour anywhere in the UK. There is also a delightful case of two MPs in one post being implicated in one expenses claim with Devine buying a flat and some furniture from Connarty and then claiming the money on expenses! Livingstone represents the remainder of the West Lothian council, which currently has 14 Labour, 13 SNP, 1 Conservative and 4 Independent members. The similar Livingstone Scottish Parliamentary constituency was won by the SNP in 2007 by 870 votes. Devine apparently considered resigning and forcing a by-election, which the SNP would have been favoured to win, but instead decided to hold on. Labour’s candidate is Graeme Morrice, who has been a local councillor for 22 years and is the current leader of Labour on the council. The SNP candidate is Lis Bardell. Bardell’s campaign continues to focus on Devine even though he is standing down. A guest post on the SNP Tactical Voting blog is entitled ‘Jim Devine M.P. and the rights of the people of Livingstone Constituency.’ Bardell’s aim is clear – to keep the expenses scandal in the minds of Livingstone voters and to maintain the view it is not just Devine at fault but the local Labour Party establishment. Her post is replete with references to Labour members who continued to back Devine even after his deselection, including Morrice, and I don’t think it’s too much to assume that Bardell’s election literature probably features more of the same. Ladbrokes has the SNP at 5/4, uncomfortably high for Labour, but a new candidate will reduce the effectiveness of Bardell’s attack, though anger against the Labour Party no doubt remains high in Livingstone. This one may well come down to a photo finish, but I think the seat will just about go yellow on election night. SNP Gain.

Updated 05/05/10


  1. Chris, Where did you get the 'admits to over claiming £160,000' fact?
    I woud like to follow up on that.

  2. @ Martin

    It's on the 'most expenses' hyperlink. Mail article.

  3. Please Note: Hyperlinks (underlined and orange text) are there specifically to lead all our readers to the source of our statements. If you take issue with the claim you must inform the source of our hyperlinks. Please feel free however, to inform us of relevant informtion which may add/support/contradict these sources.

  4. Err Gordon Guthrie isn't standing in Linlithgow and East Falkirk in 2010. And it is Livingston not Livingstone.

    Stephen Glenn
    Liberal Democrat Candidate
    Linlithgow and East Falkrik

  5. Corrected the Livingstones. I don't know where I got Guthrie from. I will update appropriately.