Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Scotland Votes: Lothian Part 2

This post covers the seats in Lothian outside Edinburgh. The Edinburgh seats can be seen here. Regional seats are here.

A much shorter post this time! This post basically covers the three seats outside Edinburgh in the Lothian region. Two of these seats, Almond Valley and Linlithgow, are fairly simple geographically. They cover West Lothian council region in its entirety and sit to the West of Edinburgh. The final seat, Midlothian North and Musselburgh, sits East of the Edinburgh and covers parts of both East Lothian and Midlothian council regions.

Despite being located on opposite sides of Edinburgh the three seats all share some things in common: they are all Lab/SNP marginals, and rather more like the rest of the Central Belt. The seats are all a mix of Edinburgh suburbs and rural regions as best I can tell.




Swing Required

First Elected


Almond Valley

Angela Constance




SNP Lean


Mary Mulligan




SNP Lean

Midlothian North & Musselburgh

Rhona Brankin




SNP Lean

Almond Valley is the most marginal seat in all of Scotland, with Angela Constance holding a notional 4 vote majority over Labour. She is a junior minister in the Scottish Government, at Skills and Lifelong Learning. Constance won her former seat, Livingston, by just 870 votes in 2007. She may have been aided in her triumph by the presence on the ballot of Ernie Walker, an independent running on an anti-hospital closure platform. Walker got 8.5%, well above the 2.6% which separated SNP and Labour and one would expect him to have dragged more votes from Labour than the SNP (as the NHS is often considered Labour’s strongest area, and because Labour were vulnerable in that election). If that vote now returns to Labour, they may have a better chance than in many seats. Their candidate is Laurence Fitzpatrick is a local councillor who got the highest vote in West Lothian in 2007. The polls, of course, point towards a strong SNP victory and seats like these should be easy wins for the SNP, but the result is not quite beyond doubt.

Linlithgow is almost as tight, with Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister Mary Mulligan defending a less than 300 vote majority. The SNP have a strong candidate here in the form of Fiona Hyslop, the minister for Culture and External Affairs, and a former Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. She has been a list MSP since 1999. She was sacked from the Education minister due to opposition threats to pass a vote of no confidence in her, over class sizes, teacher numbers and attempts to remove control of schools from LEAs. As in Almond Valley I think the force of the uniform swing should be enough to see the SNP through.

Midlothian North and Musselburgh is another tight race. Incumbent MSP, Rhona Brankin, is standing down at this election. She was Shadow Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning. Bernard Hawkins and Colin Beattie are fighting it for Labour and the SNP, respectively. A trade unionist and civil servant he is also a former councillor and has worked on every Labour campaign since 1992. Colin Beattie used to work in the financial services industry and is currently the SNP’s national treasurer. Once again, I feel this is a case where the national swing leads me to lean towards a SNP lean.


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