Leading article

Uniting the kingdom

Dethroning as many SNP MPs as possible with tactical voting is more important than party allegiances

29 April 2017

9:00 AM

29 April 2017

9:00 AM

When launching the Scottish National Party’s election campaign, Nicola Sturgeon said the word ‘Tory’ 20 times in 20 minutes. For much of her political lifetime, it has been used by the SNP as the dirtiest word in Scottish politics. Nationalists have long liked to portray the Conservatives as the successors to Edward Longshanks: an occupying army with little affinity for the people they were trying to govern.

But things are changing fast in Scotland. Amid the other political dramas of the past few months, the revival of Tory support north of the border has gone relatively unnoticed. They had only one MP after the last election, but a poll this week puts them on 33 per cent in Scotland — enough to win 12 seats. There is a similar story in Wales, where one poll suggests that the Tories might take a majority of the seats in the principality for the first time since the 1850s. The idea that the Conservatives would become an England-only party, reviled in the Celtic fringe, is now out of date.

The truth is that this narrative was always false. It suits the Welsh and Scottish nationalists to pretend that their countrymen’s values are different, even inimical, to those of the English. But the people of these islands are united not only by a common culture, language, even a second language (Polish) but also by a worldview.

The British Social Attitudes survey, the gold standard for measuring public opinion, shows that what gaps there are in regional approaches to politics are small, and narrowing. For example, when asked ‘are most people on the dole fiddling?’ the fewest people answer ‘yes’ in London and the southeast, and the most in Wales, with Scotland in the middle. It is party-political disputes that explain the difference in policies between England and Scotland. There is far greater variance in opinion between the south-west and south-east of England than there is between England and Scotland.

The Conservatives have performed badly in Scotland over the past generation for the same reason as the Liberals have performed poorly all over Britain since 1945: there is not a lot of room in a two-party system for a third party. As nationalism grew stronger, voting habits tended to polarise between the SNP and Labour. This was always a little unsustainable because it meant that Scottish politics was dominated by two left-of-centre parties. But since 2014, Labour’s weakness has led to the Conservatives emerging as the leading unionist party.

Now Scots who want to defend the United Kingdom have the option of voting tactically to increase their chances of sending the Nationalists home to think again. Nicola Sturgeon knows that a poor general election performance will damage her call for a second independence referendum, hence her belated attempt to decouple the two questions.

Last week, Gina Miller, the pro-EU campaigner, produced a spreadsheet to advise diehard Remainers on how they should vote to kick pro-Brexit MPs out of parliament. Tactical voting certainly has its place in general elections, and this week The Spectator publishes the results of a similar exercise advising those north of the border how they should vote in order to elect MPs opposed to the break-up of the UK. In most cases, such as Aberdeen North, it will mean voting Labour; in some, such as Aberdeen South, it will mean voting Conservative. There are others, too, such as the late Charles Kennedy’s seat of Ross, Skye and Lochaber, where the Liberal Democrats have the best chance.

Many will feel an innate resistance to tactical voting. There is a respectable argument that people should always vote for their favoured candidate on the basis that even if they don’t succeed this time around, a strong performance by a losing candidate can help build a base for victory in a subsequent election. But in Scotland there are special circumstances. The SNP is certain to try to use this election campaign as a mandate to inflict another referendum campaign on a country still recovering from the last one.

Equally, it is hard to argue that in this election the result will be so close that the election of a few Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs will change the composition of the UK government. But ending the SNP’s near monopoly on Scottish representation at Westminster will make it much harder for them to claim to be speaking for all of Scotland every time they rise from their benches in the Commons.

There was much talk that the Brexit vote would lead to a surge in demand for Scottish independence. Instead, polls suggest more people are going off the idea. This is why Ms Sturgeon seeks a new referendum: she senses the momentum slipping away from her. So far, the general election campaign has seen a country coming together rather than apart and a Tory party that is — now more than any time for a generation — speaking to the whole of the UK. Mrs May could well return with a stronger majority, but to return with a stronger union would be a far greater prize.


The Spectator’s complete guide to tactical voting in Scotland:

Aberdeen North

2015 Result

SNP – 24,793 (56.4%)
Lab – 11,397   (25.9%)
Con – 5,304     (12.1%)
LD –   2,050     (4.7%)
Oth – 392       (0.9%)

Notes: Aberdeen strongly voted against independence in 2014, with No achieving 59% of the vote. However, the north of the city certainly appears to be more pro independence than the south. Before 2015, the seat was a Labour stronghold for generations, and Labour is the best placed option to take the seat back now, though the SNP’s Kirsty Blackman is still the clear favourite.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Aberdeen South

2015 Result

SNP – 20,221 (41.6%)
Lab – 12,991 (26.8%)
Con – 11,087 (22.8%)
LD –   2,252   (4.6%)
Green – 964 (2%)
UKIP – 897     (1.8%)
Oth – 139       (0.3%)

Notes: The SNP’s Callum McCaig is in a much more precarious position than his fellow Aberdeen MP, and the seat appears to be fertile unionist territory. Though previously held by Dame Anne Begg for Labour, the Conservatives did relatively well in 2015. All the signs point to another strong Conservative showing this time around, and a potential SNP scalp for good measure.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.

2015 Result

SNP – 22,949 (41.6%)
Con – 15,916 (28.8%)
LD –   11,812   (21.4%)
Lab – 2,487     (4.5%)
UKIP – 1,006   (1.8%)
Green – 885     (1.6%)
Oth – 141       (0.3%)

Notes: This is perhaps the most significant marginal of the election. Much like Aberdeen, the wider county of Aberdeenshire voted 60% ‘No’ in 2014. The SNP benefitted from a split unionist vote, and in the 2016 Holyrood elections, the Conservatives took the equivalent seat on a massive 17% swing. Ruth Davidson and co will be throwing everything they have at this seat, and will be relying on former Lib Dem voters to bite the bullet and vote Conservative.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Airdrie and Shotts

2015 Result

SNP – 23,887 (53.9%)
Lab – 15,108 (34.1%)
Con – 3,389 (7.7%)
UKIP – 1,088 (2.5%)
LD –     678 (1.5%)
Oth – 136 (0.3%)

Notes: Historically safe Labour territory, Airdrie and Shots falls within the North Lanarkshire council area, which narrowly voted ‘Yes’ in 2014 (51%). Though it is unlikely that Neil Gray will be toppled, Labour is clearly the only choice for a concerned unionist in this seat.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Angus

2015 Result

SNP – 24,130 (54.2%)
Con – 12,900 (29%)
Lab – 3,919 (8.8%)
UKIP – 1,355 (3%)
LD – 1,216 (2.7%)
Green – 965 (2.2%)

Notes: Though this seat has voted SNP since the 1990s, voters in Angus decided to reject independence in 2014 by a ratio of 56%. A highly rural seat, the Conservatives are the best placed opposition here, coming close to winning in the Holyrood elections last year.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Argyll and Bute

2015 Result

SNP – 22,959 (44.3%)
LD – 14,486 (27.9%)
Con – 7,733 (14.9%)
Lab – 5,394 (10.4%)
UKIP – 1,311 (2.5%)

Notes: A genuine four way marginal in 2015, Liberal Democrat MP Alan Reid came off worst to the SNP’s Brendan O’Hara. However, Reid, who stood in the Holyrood elections last year, could be well placed for a comeback in his old seat, which voted by 59% to reject independence in 2014.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

2015 Result

SNP – 25,492 (49.8%)
Lab – 14,227 (27.3%)
Con – 10,355 (19.8%)
UKIP – 1,280 (2.5%)
LD –   855       (1.6%)

Notes: Once the only Tory seat in Scotland (when the Scottish Tories took the Ayr Holyrood seat in 2000), the Conservatives have continued to thrive there and are now level with Labour in the Holyrood seat of Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley. Labour have continued to decline.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Central Ayrshire.

2015 Result

SNP – 26,999 (53.2%)
Lab – 13,410 (26.4%)
Con – 8,803 (17.3%)
LD – 917 (1.8%)
Green – 645 (1.3%)

Notes: The 2015 result in Ayrshire Central is similar to that of Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock. However, the prevalence of former mining towns in this seat suggest that voting Labour is a better option for unionists, as the Conservatives are less likely to gain the traction needed to win.

Verdict: Vote Labour


North Ayrshire and Arran

2015 Result

SNP – 28,641 (53.2%)
Lab – 15,068 (28%)
Con – 7,968 (14.8%)
UKIP – 1,296 (2.4%)
LD – 896 (1.7%)

Notes: A difficult seat to call, as the result of the 2016 Holyrood election suggest that the Conservatives have hoovered up the Labour ‘No’ vote. However, the 2014 referendum result here was closer than most, so unionists should not get their hopes of beating the SNP’s Patricia Gibson up too highly.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


 

Banff and Buchan

2015 Result

SNP – 27,487 (60.2%)
Con – 13,148 (28.8%)
Lab – 2,647 (5.8%)
LD – 2,347 (5.1%)

Notes: Once the stomping ground of Alex Salmond, this seat has consistently voted for the SNP since 1987. However, recent research suggested that this constituency was the only one in Scotland which voted to leave the European Union. This could upset the balance in this seat – home to the fishing towns of Fraserburgh and Peterhead – and the Conservatives are likely to be the net beneficiary.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

2015 Result

SNP – 20,145 (36.6%)
Con – 19,817 (36%)
LD – 10,294 (18.7%)
Lab – 2,700 (4.9%)
UKIP – 1,316 (2.4%)
Green – 631 (1.1%)
Oth – 135 (0.2%)

Notes: Once the seat of former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, the Lib Dem vote here has dropped back sharply in favour of the Conservatives. The SNP took this seat by a whisker in 2015, but the Conservatives now hold the Holyrood seat and are hot favourites to win the Westminster seat too.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

2015 Result

SNP – 15,831 (46.3%)
LD – 11,987 (35.1%)
Lab – 3,061 (9%)
Con – 2,326 (6.8%)
UKIP – 981 (2.9%)

Notes: This Highland seat changed its allegiance many times over the years, but has recently favoured the Liberal Democrats. Since 1997, they have often won this seat with small majorities and it is not inconceivable that they will do so again in 2017. With a modest revival in the Holyrood elections, this is one to watch if the Lib Dems are having a good night.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

2015 Result

SNP – 28,696 (56.6%)
Lab – 17,195 (33.9%)
Con – 3,209 (6.3%)
UKIP – 1,049 (2.1%)
LD – 549 (1.1%)

Notes: A central belt seat that was once solidly pro-Labour, the loss of this constituency must have been a severe blow to the party. Despite having to close a gap of over 11,000 votes, Labour remains the best unionist choice by far. However, the fact that North Lanarkshire voted narrowly for independence means that SNP is likely to hold. It may or may not be Philip Boswell: there’s lots of internal wrangling in this branch and not out of the realms of possibility that he isn’t re-selected.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East

2015 Result

SNP – 29,572 (59.9%)
Lab – 14,820 (30%)
Con – 3,891 (7.9%)
LD – 1,099 (2.2%)

Notes: With nearly 60% of the vote share in 2015, the SNP look almost impregnable here. It will be something of a longshot, but a Labour vote is a must for any passionate unionist in this seat.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Dumfries and Galloway

2015 Result

SNP – 23,440 (41.4%)
Con – 16,926 (29.9%)
Lab – 13,982 (24.7%)
UKIP – 1,301 (2.3%)
LD – 953 (1.7%)

Notes: An important target seat for the Conservatives, Dumfries and Galloway is well within unionist reach. With a ‘No’ vote of 65% in 2014, and a significant Labour vote in third place, a tactical vote here is worthy of serious consideration. Failure to win here will signal a bad night for unionism across Scotland.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

2015 Result

Con – 20,759 (39.8%)
SNP – 19.961 (38.3%)
Lab – 7,711 (14.8%)
UKIP – 1,472 (2.8%)
LD -1,392 (2.7%)
Green – 839 (1.6%)

Notes: With a wafer thin Conservative majority of 798 votes, this seat is the top target for the SNP. Should the SNP succeed here, not only will they topple a Conservative cabinet minister, but Scottish independence will begin to look beyond doubt. There is only one option for a unionist in this constituency.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


East Dunbartonshire

2015 Result

SNP – 22,093 (40.3%)
LD – 19,926 (36.3%)
Lab – 6,754 (12.3%)
Con – 4,727 (8.6%)
Green – 804 (1.5%)
UKIP – 567 (1%)

Notes: A seat that voted strongly against independence, Dunbartonshire East saw sitting MP Jo Swinson lose by 2,000 votes to the SNP’s John Nicolson. Swinson is set to stand again in 2017 and has a fighting chance if she can squeeze the votes of the Conservative and Labour candidates.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Dunbartonshire West

2015 Result

SNP – 30,198 (59%)
Lab – 16,027 (31.3%)
Con – 3,597 (7%)
LD – 816 (1.6%)
Oth – 503 (1%)

Notes: Unlike its namesake to the east, West Dumbartonshire voted ‘Yes’ to independence in 2014. And yet, Labour managed to defy the odds by holding on to the Dumbarton Holyrood seat in 2016. Labour remains the best bet to defeat the SNP in 2017, though the likelihood is that the newly-married Martin Docherty-Hughes will be back.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Dundee East


2015 Result

SNP – 28,765 (59.7%)
Lab – 9,603 (19.9%)
Con – 7,206 (15%)
LD – 1,387 (2.9%)
Green – 895 (1.9%)
Oth – 329 (0.7%)

Notes: The SNP’s Stewart Hosie gained this seat from Labour in 2005 in a very tight race. However, since the referendum, this seat has turned into something of an SNP fiefdom. Unionists must coalesce around Labour, but not be too surprised to see Hosie returning to Westminster.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Dundee West

2015 Result

SNP – 27,684 (61.9%)
Lab – 10,592 (23.7%)
Con – 3,852 (8.6%)
Green – 1,225 (2.7%)
LD – 1,057 (2.4%)
Oth – 304 (0.7%)

Notes: During the 2014 referendum, the SNP promoted Dundee to the title of ‘Yes City’. Though this is the more marginal of the Dundee constituencies, it will take a Herculean effort to overturn Chris Law’s majority of 17,000. Labour is the only party that can even entertain this feat.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Dunfermline and West Fife

2015 Result

SNP – 28,096 (50.3%)
Lab – 17,744 (31.7%)
Con – 6,623 (11.9%)
LD – 2,232 (4%)
Green – 1,195 (2.1%)

Notes: Though the SNP chalked up a 10,000 vote majority here in 2015, there is an outside chance that a unionist could take it back if the SNP vote declines. Labour is the unambiguous choice in this seat.

Verdict: Vote Labour


East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow

2015 Result

SNP – 33,678 (55.6%)
Lab – 17,151 (28.3%)
Con – 7,129 (11.8%)
UKIP – 1,221 (2%)
LD – 1,042 (1.7%)
Oth – 318 (0.5%)

Notes: A probable lost cause for unionists, Labour still retained a robust showing in 2015. The aim here should be to reduce Lisa Cameron’s majority as far as possible.

Verdict: Vote Labour  


East Lothian

2015 Result

SNP – 25,104 (42.5%)
Lab – 18,301 (31%)
Con – 11,511 (19.5%)
LD – 1,517 (2.6%)
Green – 1,245 (2.1%)
UKIP – 1,178 (2%)

Notes: A staunchly unionist area, Labour’s Iain Gray held the seat at the Holyrood elections in 2016. Labour still managed a decent second place in 2015, and the Conservative vote has not increased by enough since to recommend voting for them in this seat.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Edinburgh East

2015 Result

SNP – 23,188 (49.2%)
Lab – 14,082 (29.9%)
Con – 4,670 (9.9%)
Green – 2,809 (6%)
LD – 1,325 (2.8%)
UKIP – 898 (1.9%)
Oth – 117 (0.2%)

Notes: Even Kezia Dugdale’s candidacy couldn’t prevent a decline in the Labour vote at the 2016 Holyrood election. However, with the Conservative polling below 10% in 2015, Labour are still the best placed party to return a unionist candidate in 2017.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Edinburgh North and Leith

2015 Result

SNP – 23, 742 (40.9%)
Lab – 18, 145 (31.5%)
Con – 9,378 (16.2%)
Green – 3,140 (5.4%)
LD – 2,634 (4.5%)
UKIP – 847 (1.5%)
Oth – 122 (0.2%)

Notes: The SNP majority is this seat is just under 6,000. The votes for a unionist candidate are very much up for grabs here, and Conservative and Lib Dem voters should grit their teeth and vote Labour in the name of the union.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Edinburgh South

2015 Result

Lab – 19,293 (39.1%)
SNP – 16,656 (33.8%)
Con – 8,626 (17.5%)
Green – 2,090 (4.2%)
LD – 1,823 (3.7%)
UKIP – 601 (1.2%)
Oth – 197 (0.4%)

Notes: Labour’s last seat in Scotland sees Ian Murray defending a majority of under 3,000 in a seat the SNP are gunning for. Conservative voters in particular will have to remind themselves that a vote for Murray is hardly an endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn, as retaining this seat is vital to take the wind out of the SNP’s sails.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Edinburgh South West

2015 Result

SNP – 22,168 (43%)
Lab – 14,033 (27.2%)
Con – 10,444 (20.2%)
Green 1,965 (3.8%)
LD – 1,920 (3.7%)
UKIP – 1,072 (2.1%)

Notes: Formerly the seat of Alistair Darling, it was taken by the SNP’s Joanna Cherry in 2015. Historically this seat was much more favourable to the Conservatives, and Labour’s decline suggests that unionist voters in this seat should switch to the Conservatives for their best chance to unseat Cherry in 2017.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Edinburgh West

2015 Result

SNP – 21,378 (39%)
LD – 18,168 (33.1%)
Con – 6,732 (12.3%)
Lab – 6,425 (11.7%)
Green – 1,140 (2.1%)
UKIP – 1,015 (1.5%)

Notes: With the Conservatives and Labour polling around 6,500 votes each, a tactical switch to the Lib Dems could work well here, especially since the Lib Dem victory here at Holyrood last year. Michelle Thomson, who won for the SNP last time, won’t be their candidate this time.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Falkirk

2015 Result

SNP – 34,831 (57.7%)
Lab – 15,130 (25.1%)
Con – 7,325 (12.1%)
UKIP – 1,829 (3%)
LD – 1,225 (2%)

Notes: Falkirk has turned into another SNP stronghold, with MP John McNally polling nearly 58% of the vote here in 2015. A vote for Labour here will only get you so far, but reducing the SNP majority could still prove worthwhile further on down the line.

Verdict: Vote Labour


North East Fife.

2015 Result

SNP – 18,523 (40.9%)
LD – 14,179 (31.3%)
Con – 7,373 (16.3%)
Lab – 3,476 (7.7%)
Green – 1,387 (3.1%)
Oth – 325 (0.7%)

Notes: Once served by Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat vote still held up fairly robustly in this seat. Even better for the Scottish Lib Dems, their leader Willie Rennie took the Holyrood constituency from the SNP last year. North East Fife will be a top target for them in this general election.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Glasgow Central

2015 Result

SNP – 20,658 (52.5%)
Lab – 12,996 (33.1%)
Con – 2,359 (6%)
Green – 1,559 (4%)
UKIP – 786 (2%)
LD – 612 (1.6%)
Oth – 348 (0.9%)

Notes: The SNP’s most vulnerable seat in Glasgow still presents a formidable challenge to any unionist candidate in a city that voted 53% for independence. While Alison Thewliss will in all probability be returned in 2017, unionists should vote for Labour to cut her majority by as much as they can.

Verdict: Vote Labour


 

Glasgow East

2015 Result

SNP – 24,116 (56.9%)
Lab – 13,729 (32.4%)
Con – 2,544 (6%)
UKIP – 1,105 (2.6%)
Green – 381 (0.9%)
LD – 318 (0.7%)
Oth – 224 (0.5%)

Notes: Natalie McGarry’s fate may be uncertain, but SNP fortunes in her seat are likely to carry on as normal. Labour is not destitute here, and while winning looks difficult it must seek to cut this seat’s majority so as to be a viable force in the future.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Glasgow North

2015 Result

SNP – 19,610 (53.1%)
Lab – 10,315 (27.9%)
Con – 2,901 (7.9%)
Green – 2,284 (6.2%)
LD – 1,012 (2.7%)
UKIP – 486 (1.3%)
Oth – 314 (0.9%)

Notes: Unfortunately for unionists in Glasgow, the outcome of this vote is largely out of their hands. In this case, unionists must vote for Labour and hope that some of the SNP support transfers over to the Greens.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Glasgow North East

2015 Result

SNP – 21,976 (58.1%)
Lab – 12,754 (33.7%)
Con – 1,769 (4.7%)
Green – 615 (1.6%)
LD – 300 (0.8%)
Oth – 443 (0.6%)

Notes: The unionist vote here has been squeezed so hard that there is precious little that unionists can hope to achieve in this seat. However, they must at least seek to cut the SNP’s majority as much as possible. Labour is the only option.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Glasgow North West

2015 Result

SNP – 23,908 (54.5%)
Lab – 13,544 (30.9%)
Con – 3,692 (8.4%)
LD – 1,194 (2.7%)
Green – 1,167 (2.7%)
Oth – 349 (0.8%)

Notes: The SNP have a commanding lead here, but there is still an opportunity to maximise the unionist vote for Labour as far as it can currently go.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Glasgow South

2015 Result

SNP – 26,773 (54.9%)
Lab – 14,504 (29.7%)
Con – 4,752 (9.7%)
Green – 1,431 (2.9%)
LD – 1,019 (2.1%)
Oth – 299 (0.6%)

Notes: As with the other seats in Glasgow, it is down to Labour to maximise the unionist vote in the hope of winning here in the future. There is not much else to be said.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Glasgow South West

2015 Result

SNP – 23,388 (57.2%)
Lab – 13,438 (32.8%)
Con – 2,036 (5%)
UKIP – 970 (2.4%)
Green – 507 (1.2%)
LD – 406 (1%)
Oth – 176 (0.4%)

Notes: This seat is completely different to all the other Glasgow seats… Only joking, choose Labour to get the most out of your unionist vote.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Glenrothes

2015 Result

SNP – 28,459 (59.8%)
Lab – 14,562 (30.6%)
Con – 3,685 (7.7%)
LD – 892 (1.9%)

Notes: Although Fife voted by 55% against independence, Peter Grant will prove difficult to shift. The evidence from the 2016 Holyrood election is that voters here are switching from Labour to the Conservatives, but not in large enough numbers to make a significant difference.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Gordon

2015 Result

SNP – 27,717 (47.7%)
LD – 19,030 (32.7%)
Con – 6,807 (11.7%)
Lab – 3,441 (5.9%)
UKIP – 1,166 (2%)

Notes: A fascinating seat with enormous potential for upset. Alex Salmond took this seat from the Liberal Democrats in 2015. A concerted unionist effort to back the Liberal Democrats could oust Salmond, claiming the most significant scalp of the night in the process. A gentleman’s agreement between the Conservatives and Lib Dems could see the unionists reclaim two seats in an area of the country that voted 60% for ‘No’ in 2014.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Inverclyde

2015 Result

SNP – 24,585 (55.1%)
Lab – 13,522 (30.3%)
Con – 4,446 (10%)
LD – 1,106 (2.5%)
UKIP – 715 (1.6%)
Oth – 233 (0.5%)

Verdict: Inverclyde notably voted on a knife edge to stay in the union in 2014. Even on a poor night for the SNP, Inverclyde is probably just beyond Labour’s reach, but that should be no excuse not to give the SNP a run for its money.

Verdict: Vote Labour


 

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey

2015 Result

SNP – 28,838 (50.1%)
LD – 18,029 (31.3%)
Lab – 4,311 (7.5%)
Con – 3,410 (5.9%)
Green – 1,367 (2.4%)
UKIP – 1,236 (2.1%)

Notes: Formerly represented by Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrats have an uphill battle if they are to regain this seat, but it is certainly a possibility if the SNP vote retreats by more than the polls suggest. It was LibDem territory for quite a while; it might be again.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Kilmarnock and Loudoun

2015 Results

SNP – 30,000 (55.7%)
Lab – 16,362 (30.4%)
Con – 6,752 (12.5%)
LD – 789 (1.5%)

Notes: Another seat where the SNP is likely to hold on comfortably, but it is worth fighting for all the same.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

2015 Result

SNP – 27,628 (52.2%)
Lab – 17,654 (33.4%)
Con – 5,223 (9.9%)
UKIP – 1,237 (2.3%)
LD – 1,150 (2.2%)

Notes: Though it would require squeezing the unionist vote until the pips squeak, there is hope for unionists to capture Gordon Brown’s old seat if the SNP vote declines and all goes well elsewhere across Scotland.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Lanark and Hamilton East

2015 Result

SNP – 26,976 (48.8%)
Lab – 16,876 (30.5%)
Con – 8,772 (15.9%)
UKIP – 1,431 (2.6%)
LD – 1,203 (2.2%)

Notes: Lanark and Hamilton East might at first appear as safe territory for the SNP as nearby Glasgow, but there is more hope here for a Labour victory, especially if the Greens decide to run a candidate this time.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Linlithgow and East Falkirk

2015 Result

SNP – 32,055 (52%)
Lab – 19,121 (31%)
Con – 7,384 (12%)
UKIP – 1,682 (2.7%)
LD – 1,252 (2%)
Oth – 103 (0.2%)

Notes: A strong showing for the SNP that is not quite unassailable. It will take some doing, but Labour could potentially claim this seat back. Just don’t bet your house on it.

Verdict: Vote Labour

Livingston

2015 Result

SNP – 32,736 (56.9%)
Lab – 15,893 (27.6%)
Con – 5,929 (10.3%)
UKIP – 1,757 (3.1%)
LD – 1,232 (2.1%)

Notes: A really tall order for unionists to win this one back, despite the seat voting a resounding ‘No’ in 2014. Put your hopes (but not your wallet) on Labour.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Midlothian

2015 Result

SNP – 24,453 (50.6%)
Lab – 14,594 (30.2%)
Con – 5,760 (11.9%)
Green – 1,219 (2.5%)
UKIP – 1,173 (2.4%)
LD – (1,132)

Notes: Though Labour needs to pull out all the stops, it may just have a chance in Midlothian, a seat which it had previously held since the seat’s creation in 1955. If the SNP vote falls by more than the average, then Labour could pull off a shock win.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Moray

2015 Result

SNP – 24,384 (49.5%)
Con – 15,319 (31.1%)
Lab – 4,898 (9.9%)
UKIP – 1,939 (3.9%)
LD – 1,395 (2.8%)
Green – 1,345 (2.7%)

Notes: Currently held by SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, this seat (which was Tory from 1966-73 to and 1979-93) offers a small but irresistible opportunity to inflict serious damage on the nationalists. The home to military bases (and quite a few Brexit-supporting fisherman), it voted 49pc for Leave at the referendum. In last year’s Holyrood elections, the Tories cut the SNP majority in Holyrood was cut from 10,944 to 2,875. A bit more of a Tory surge could see the SNP’s leader liberated into the private sector. After an extraordinary showing in the 2016 Holyrood election, this seat will be one to watch in 2017.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Motherwell and Wishaw

2015 Result

SNP – 27,275 (56.5%)
Lab – 15,377 (31.9%)
Con – 3,695 (7.7%)
UKIP – 1,289 (2.7%)
LD – 601 (1.2%)

Notes: In the end, unionists may have to write this one off as a lost cause, but a vote for Labour could go some way to end the SNP’s apparent invincibility in the central belt.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Na h-Eileanan An Iar (Western Isles)

2015 Result

SNP – 8,662 (54.3%)
Lab – 4,560 (28.6%)
Con – 1,215 (7.6%)
Oth – 1,045 (6.6%)
LD – 456 (2.9%)

Notes: The seat has been held by Labour in the recent past, but has voted for the SNP since 2005. The chances of it returning to the unionist parties are low, but Labour remain the best bet.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Ochil and South Perthshire

2015 Result

SNP – 26,620 (46%)
Lab – 16,452 (28.4%)
Con – 11,987 (20.7%)
LD – 1,481 (2.6%)
UKIP – 1,331 (2.3%)

Notes: This seat offers an excellent opportunity to deliver a blow to the SNP by ousting one of their most high profile MPs, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Though Labour finished second in 2015, last year’s Holyrood election shows that the momentum has moved behind the Conservatives. They came close to wrenching the equivalent seat from the nationalists, and could do even better this time around.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Orkney and Shetland

2015 Result

LD – 9,407 (41.4%)
SNP – 8,590 (37.8%)
Con – 2,025 (8.9%)
Lab – 1,624 (7.1%)
UKIP – 1,082 (4.8%)

Notes: The last remaining Lib Dem seat in Scotland that the SNP would be delighted to take. Former Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael’s majority is only 817, which means that he will require every vote he can get. But he’s damaged after having found to have exaggerated a story about a leaked memo during the 2015 campaign: four constituents took him to court, but the judges rejected their petition. In spite of his woes, the Lib Dems did well here in 2016, and he will probably retain his seat.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Paisley and Renfrewshire North

2015 Result

SNP – 25,601 (50.7%)
Lab – 16,525 (32.7%)
Con – 6,183 (12.3%)
LD – 1,055 (2.1%)
Green – 703 (1.4%)
Oth – 395 (0.8%)

Notes: A difficult but not total lost cause for Labour, which would require the contest to become a virtual two horse race. No other party has a look in.

Verdict: Vote Labour

Paisley and Renfrewshire South

2015 Result

SNP – 23,548 (50.9%)
Lab – 17,864 (38.6%)
Con – 3,526 (7.6%)
LD – 1,010 (2.2%)
Oth – 278 (0.6%)

Notes: Another prominent SNP figure, Mhairi Black, could be in for a close race if Conservative and Lib Dem voters abandon their respective parties in favour of Labour. Her majority of 5,684 could dissipate even further should the Greens decide to contest this seat.

Verdict: Vote Labour

Perth and North Perthshire

2015 Result

SNP – 27,379 (50.5%)
Con – 17,738 (32.7%)
Lab – 4,413 (8.1%)
LD – 2,059 (3.8%)
Green – 1,146 (2.1%)
UKIP – 1,110 (2%)
Oth – 355 (0.7%)

Notes: Pete Wishart is fairly well embedded here, but that does not mean he is entirely secure. The Conservatives did unexpectedly well in the Holyrood election, and are likely to throw the kitchen sink at this constituency, where they last triumphed in 1992.

Verdict: Vote Conservative

Renfrewshire East

2015 Result

SNP – 23,013 (40.6%)
Lab – 19,295 (34%)
Con – 12,465 (22%)
LD – 1,069 (1.9%)
UKIP – 888 (1.6%)

Notes: Solidly Tory until Jim Murphy’s stunning 1997 victory – but Conservative victory in the Eastwood seat at Holyrood suggests that unionists should abandon Labour and opt for Ruth Davison’s party instead. The only exception may be if Jim Murphy decides to stand again, though at present this looks unlikely. After all, there’s only so much punishment one man can take.

Verdict: Vote Conservative


Ross, Skye and Lochaber

2015 Result

SNP – 20,119 (48.1%)
LD – 14,995 (35.9%)
Con – 2,598 (6.2%)
Lab – 2,043 (4.9%)
Green – 1,051 (2.5%)
UKIP – 814 (1.9%)
Oth – 191 (0.5%)

Notes: 2015 showed that even Charles Kennedy wasn’t immune to the SNP tsunami. The other unionist parties are already squeezed here, but every extra vote for the Liberal Democrats will count in this seat.

Verdict: Vote Liberal Democrat


Rutherglen and Hamilton West

2015 Result

SNP – 30,279 (52.6%)
Lab – 20,304 (35.2%)
Con – 4,350 (7.6%)
UKIP – 1,301 (2.3%)
LD – 1,045 (1.8%)
Oth – 336 (0.6%)

Notes: The SNP will be difficult to remove here and it shouldn’t be too difficult to see that Labour are the only party capable of the job.

Verdict: Vote Labour


Stirling

2015 Result

SNP – 23,783 (45.6%)
Lab – 13,303 (25.5%)
Con – 12,051 (23.1%)
Green – 1,606 (3.1%)
LD – 1,392 (2.7%)

Notes: Although Labour managed to keep their heads above the Conservatives in 2015, the Holyrood election in 2016 saw the Conservatives leapfrog them into second place. A seat where the combined unionist vote is stronger than the nationalist vote, Stirling requires unity behind one candidate, and the momentum is with the Conservatives.

Verdict: Vote Conservative

Our guide to tactical voting in Scotland can be found at www.spectator.co.uk/unionist

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