Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Scotland Votes: North East Scotland Part 2: The Urban Seats

This post covers the urban seats of North East Scotland, to see the rural seats click here. The regional list seats are now available here.

Having covered the rural North East Scotland seats, then, let’s move onto the urban seats. There are two large cities in North East Scotland, Aberdeen, which has three seats, and Dundee, which has two. Befitting the Labour Party’s usual link to the urban working class, they are much stronger in the urban seats than in the rural ones, though the SNP still dominate and the Lib Dems are relatively strong in parts of Aberdeen, indeed the party is the largest on Aberdeen City council.



Notional Majority

Swing Required

First Elected

Aberdeen Central

Lewis MacDonald





Too Close

Aberdeen Donside

Brian Adam




SNP Lean

Aberdeen South and Kincardine North

Nicol Stephen




SNP Lean

Dundee City East

Shona Robison




SNP Lean

Dundee City West

Joe Fitzpatrick




SNP Lean

Aberdeen Central is a great seat to start with, as it must be one of the most competitive in Scotland. The incumbent MSP, Lewis MacDonald, has seen his 382 majority from the last election erased into a notional majority of 349 for the SNP. What’s more the Lib Dems have seen a great rise in their notional vote, and theoretically it would only take a 1.7% swing for them to take the seat. MacDonald is a former deputy minister in the Scottish Executive and the current Labour Party Shadow Minister for Energy and Enterprise. Having held this seat since 1999 he has the definite advantage of name recognition, as well as fairly decent polling behind the Labour Party. All the recent polls show the Labour Party getting the 0.7% swing necessary to get this seat, albeit only barely. His SNP opponent is Kevin Stewart, leader of the SNP on Aberdeen City Council and Deputy Leader of the council. Stewart also stood in Aberdeen North in the 2005 Westminster election, clearly, then, he is familiar with local issues and local campaigning. He is truly local – been born and bred in the city. The wildcard factor is in this election is the Lib Dems. Their candidate Sheila Thomson works for Sir Robert Smith, an Aberdeen MP and is a former local councillor. While it’s certainly not out of the question that the Lib Dems could take the seat doing so would be very much a swim against the tide based on current polling. That given, then, the biggest question in this seat is perhaps ‘Where will Lib Dem voters go?’ in the likely event that they lose significant votes. That said, I think this one is best marked as too close.

Aberdeen Donside is the seat of the SNP's Brian Adam (no, not AdamS!). Adam has been a MSP since 1999 when he was elected as a list MSP, but he became MSP for Aberdeen North in 2003, holding it in 2007. Aberdeen’s been quite effected by the boundary commissioners so Aberdeen North becomes Aberdeen Donside for this election. Adam is a former biochemist and trade unionist, and is also a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons. He got into a fairly nasty fight with a Labour councillor over his religion in 2006, with Adam dismissing the councillor as bigotted. Labour needs a 6.6% swing to win the seat, which puts them within shooting distance of taking it. Their candidate is Barney Crockett a secondary school teacher turned councillor who stood as Labour’s Westminster candidate in the nearby Lib Dem seat of Gordon in 2010. While Labour could win this seat, I think that even on the most optimistic polls a 6.6% swing is just out of reach for the party, and with a long-time incumbent MSP in place the SNP have name recognition and experience on their side, so I’m calling this one as a SNP lean.

Aberdeen South and Kincardine North was the seat of Nicol Stephen who, from 2005 until 2008, was leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and, thus, Deputy First Minister of Scotland from 2005 until 2007. He cited the pressures of a young family in Aberdeen as his main reason for resigning from the Edinburgh based role, and is now standing down at this election. If he’d stood again he’d have had one hell of a fight on his hands as the boundary commissioner had not been kind here, reducing the Lib Dem majority by almost 700 votes, with his standing down the Lib Dems, who tend to benefit from a serious incumbency bonus where they hold seats, must be seriously worried considering the current polling situation. The Lib Dems candidate is John Sleigh, a farmer and community activist in Aberdeenshire who worked for Nicol Stephen as a constituency assistant and who has been a councillor. The SNP is clearly targeting the seat by standing Maureen Watt, a regional MSP for North East Scotland. She was the Minister for Schools and Skills, a junior post in the Scottish Government, from 2007 until 2009. Considering the polling situation, the open seat, the fact that last time around a big portion of this was the Scottish Lib Dem leader’s seat, and adding in Maureen Watt, a SNP candidate with a decent profile, you have the makings of a SNP gain in my eyes. Had Stephen remained or the Coalition at Westminster never had been formed I’d no doubt be saying different, but this is a SNP lean in my opinion.

Moving onto the two Dundee seats now; we’ll start with Dundee City East, home to SNP MSP Shona Robison. Robison was first the candidate for this seat in 1999 losing it to Labour, but was elected as a North East MSP. She remained as candidate for this seat in 2003, winning the seat by a very tight 90 vote majority, and increased her majority massively in the SNP victory of 2007. Robison’s seat has been fairly untouched by boundary changes, though there has been a slight reduction in her majority. She is currently a junior minister, Minister for Public Health and Sport. She is also the wife of Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie. Labour’s candidate is Mohammed Asif, a councillor in Dundee and a self-employed businessman. Interestingly, the Lib Dem candidate, Allan Petrie, is a former SNP councillor, though it would take a miracle for them to come from fourth to take the seat, but he may be able to drag some more votes off the SNP than would othewise be the case. Considering the SNP majority here I think I can be pretty secure in calling this for the SNP, though I do think it would be foolish to rule the Labour Party out, so SNP lean.

Dundee City West is the closer of the two Dundee seats. A 4.3% swing from the SNP to Labour would be enough for the party to gain the seat. Current MSP Joe Fitzpatrick is a former worker in Shona Robison and Stewart Hosie’s constituency office who has a strong record against the Labour. He was elected to Dundee City Council in 1999 overturning a large Labour majority, and increased his majority in 2003. In 2005 he stood in the Dundee West Westminster constituency, and although he didn’t win he slashed Labour’s majority in half. In 2007 he managed a 6.1% swing to take Dundee West Labour, who’d held the seat since 1999. Retaking this seat, therefore, would put Labour in good stead for beating the SNP to being the largest party. Labour’s candidate is Richard McCready, who holds a PhD in History and is a lecturer and tutor in the subject. He has also been a councillor in the area since 2007 and is a former parliamentary assistant to several MPs. Given the current polls and Fitzpatrick’s record I think the 4.3% swing necessary to take this seat is out of McCready’s reach, so this is a SNP lean in my opinion. That said, while Dundee City East is a SNP Lean closer to the ‘SNP Safe’ end of the spectrum, this is closer to ‘Too Close’. McCready has a better chance than his fellow Labour Party candidate Mohammed Asif in Dundee City East, but I’d still bet on a SNP hold here.


  1. Seems good to me. Gotta think that Macdonald will win Central..

    Will you look at the NE regional list?