Every day until the election we will profile all 59 of Scotland’s contests. Can the SNP hold what they have or win any new seats? James Kelly of ScotGoesPop has the answers


Winner in 2017: Paul Masterton (Conservatives)

Of the 12 seats the Tories gained from the SNP at the last election, which will be the most challenging for them to hold? The most obvious way to measure that is to look at which seat is most marginal, in which case the answer is clearly Stirling. But given that this will be “the Brexit election” in a way that 2017 mysteriously was not, it ought to be a cause for concern for Paul Masterton that his East Renfrewshire constituency is the Scottish Tory seat that voted Remain at the EU referendum by the most overwhelming margin.

Indeed, there are only two constituencies in the whole of Scotland that are estimated to have been more strongly Remain. Even Jo Swinson represents a constituency with a slightly greater proportion of Leave voters than East Renfrewshire – which might lead us to wonder how on earth East Renfrewshire came to be a Tory seat in the first place.

But of course, traditionally, there was never any direct conflict between being pro-European and being a Tory voter. There wasn’t any reason why the party couldn’t prosper in the likes of East Renfrewshire at the same time as in Eurosceptic areas of the rural north-east. That could be about to change.

Interim Tory leader Jackson Carlaw appears to be making a virtue out of necessity in this election by seeking to monopolise the substantial minority of the Scottish electorate that is pro-Brexit - but in doing so he may run into the same downside the SNP faced in seeking to galvanise the Yes vote after the indyref. In other words, the Tories could suffer disproportionately large swings against them in places where voters are viscerally opposed to their constitutional objective, and if that does happen, East Renfrewshire could be first in line to tumble.

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That said, it shouldn’t be forgotten that this is a constituency where three parties are in contention. Labour held the seat between 1997 and 2015, and were less than five percentage points behind the second-placed SNP in 2017. It can’t be assumed, therefore, that a slump in the Tory vote will automatically translate into a gain for the SNP.

The snag for Labour is that they are not necessarily the most attractive destination for Remainers who are deserting the Tories but who would never consider voting SNP because of independence. As recently as 2005, the LibDems took 18% of the vote in East Renfrewshire – a remarkable nine times greater than the measly 2% they managed in 2017. So there’s plenty of scope for the resurgent LibDems to gain at the Tories’ expense, which could leave Labour out in the cold once again and allow the SNP’s Kirsten Oswald to come through the middle and reclaim her former seat.

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