Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Look @: Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire

These three council areas represent the area directly South and West of Glasgow.




Swing Needed




David Cairns




LAB Hold

Renfrewshire East

Jim Murphy




LAB Hold

Paisley and Renfrewshire North

James Sheridan




LAB Hold

Paisley and Renfrewshire South

Douglas Alexander





LAB Hold

The last Inverclyde council election gave Labour 37.9% and 9 seats, the SNP 21.5% and 5 seats, the Lib Dems 20.3% and 4 seats, the Conservatives 8.6% and 1 seat and 1 seat for an independent. Current MP David Cairns was a junior minister in the Scotland office but resigned in 2008 as the first junior minister to go in an attempted coup against Gordon Brown. Cairn's lack of loyalty is unlikely to bother the electorate however. SNP candidate Innes Nelson is a councillor and a former Engineering lecturer but with Cairns having gotten 50.7% of the vote in this constituency at the last election it is difficult to imagine him winning the seat. LAB hold.

Renfrewshire East is a middle class suburban seat. In 2005 it was the only seat in Scotland not to have its boundaries changed, just a name change from Eastwood. Up until 1997 Eastwood had been a Conservative safe seat, but since then this constituency has been held by Labour MP Jim Murphy. Jim Murphy is the current Secretary of State for Scotland and has a CV that also includes Minister for Europe and Minister for Employment. The 2007 council elections were a rollicking success for the Conservatives, who came away with 34.3% of the vote compared to just 27.8% for Labour, though both came away with 7 councillors a piece. In the Scottish Parliamentary election, where the Eastwood constituency matches this one the Conservatives came within only a thousand votes of Labour. The Conservatives have a good chance here (Ladbrokes has them at evens) but I think that a seven percent swing against one of Scottish Labour's most high profile MPs may be just too much for Conservative candidate Richard Cook; Labour Hold.

The last two seats together make up Renfrewshire council upon which Labour and the SNP have 17 councillors each and the Lib Dems have 4 and the Tories have 2. A SNP-Lib Dem coalition governs the council.

Paisley and Renfrewshire North is a safe Labour seat. Current MP James Sheridan got into some hot water over his expenses. It seems his claims included a leather bed, hundreds of pounds worth of furniture and even a 42 inch plasma television! This is SNP target number 10 and candidate Margaret ('Mags') MacLaren will be fighting hard for the seat and Ladbrokes gives the SNP odds of 3/1. With the large number of councillors in the area and Sheridan's expenses claims this seat is very much in play. Nonetheless I think Sheridan's majority is just large enough to prevent SNP victory. LAB Hold.

Paisley and Renfrewshire is held by Douglas Alexander, International Development Secretary and a key Brown ally, and bright young thing of the Labour Party who serves as Brown's election co-ordinator. If he loses his seat he will have done his job incredibly badly because both the SNP and Lib Dems need a huge swing to defeat him and this should be an easy seat to defend! Alexander secured 52.6% of the vote in 2005, and while he did claim £30,000 in expenses I suspect that anger will be blunted by the knowledge that much of this was to repair the damage done to his home in a devastating fire. Neither Lib Dem councillor Ashay Ghai nor SNP candidate Andrew Doig look competitive enough to defeat one of the new generation of Labour leaders. An almost certain Labour hold.


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