Saturday, 1 May 2010

A Look @: Highlands and Moray

We have now reached the last seats in mainland Scotland. The Highlands and Moray are two council areas that represent a vast swathe of Scotland, but have very low populations. The Highland council and is the largest in the entire UK. Due to the distance from Westminster, party attachment is low here, and local politics is more prominent. Both councils are dominated by independents, with independents holding 35 seats in the Highlands, and 12 in Moray. The strong localist appeal of the Lib Dems means that the Highlands is a real heartland for them. The Highlands has 3 constituencies and all three are held by prominent Liberal Democrats. Moray chooses to express its distance from the rest of the UK more in terms of Scottish nationalism, though this is probably linked to its proximity to the SNP's North Eastern heartlands.


Constituency

Incumbent

Majority

Swing Needed

Favourite

Prediction

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

John Thurso

8,168

14.8%

1/50

LD Hold

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

Danny Alexander

4,148

4.7%

2/7

LD Hold

Moray

Angus Robertson

5,676

7.3%

1/10

SNP Hold

Ross, Skye and Lochaber

Charles Kennedy

14,249

21.9%

1/500

LD Hold


Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross is the most Northernly constituency in the mainland UK. It is held by John Sinclair, the third Viscount Thurso, who is usually known as 'John Thurso'. Currently Thurso is the Lib Dem spokesman for Business. A hereditary peer, Thurso ran for the seat, which had been held by the 1st Viscount Thurso, in order to remain in politics. Thurso was overpaid five hundred and forty eight pounds for council tax, which he has repaid back, this is unlikely to hurt him. I don't think anyone will argue for saying that Labour candidate John MacKay's chances of being elected are incredibly slim! Lib Dem Hold.

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey is current the constituency of Danny Alexander who serves as Nick Clegg's Chief of Staff and Chair of the Lib Dem manifesto group. A bright young talent within the Liberal Democrats, Alexander will have done very badly to loss this seat on election night. Filled under 'bizarre expenses claims', Alexander filled expenses for a 99p bottle of Mr. Muscle from a pound shop. Alexander was overpaid a large series of expenses but paid back more than he was asked to. Nonetheless, Labour have their own troubles to deal with and I neither of the other parties are within distance of Alexander. Lib Dem hold.

Moray (pronounced 'Murray') is the seat of Angus Robertson, who leads the SNP group at Westminster. Moray has been held by the SNP since 1983, and Robertson has held it personally since 2001. Robertson was attacked for his expenses claims, which include large claims for his second home and claims for a home cinema system. Robertson has little to worry about from third placed Labour however. Labour candidate Stuart MacLennan was sacked by the Labour Party over comments he made on his twitter account. Replacement candidate Kevin Hutchens will have to engage in damage limitation at best, and it is likely he will slip to fourth. Considering Robertson's expenses situations Conservative candidate Douglas Ross, one of the few party affliated councillors in Moray, is in with a shot, but considering the prominence of Robertson on the national stage and his reasonably healthy majority, it is a weak one in my opinion. SNP Hold.

Ross, Skye and Lochaber is the constituency of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy. Prominent for his position on Iraq Kennedy led the Liberal Democrats to their best-ever showing in 2005, winning 62 seats in the Commons. Nonetheless when his long-standing problems with alcohol were revealed Kennedy was forced to resign from the Lib Dem leadership. Despite his trouble with alcohol Kennedy is a well-liked MP and it is unlikely he will have any bother holding his seat. Lib Dem hold.

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