Every day until the election, James Kelly of ScotGoesPop is profiling Scotland’s UK Parliament constituencies.

HAVE you heard the one about the Tory who became an MP for Paisley? It sounds like a joke, because in two centuries of the modern party system, the town had never returned a Conservative parliamentary representative.

In the mid-19th century, the old Paisley constituency changed hands back and forth between the Whigs and the Radicals, before becoming solidly Liberal from 1859 until 1924.

Towards the end of that period it was held by no less a person than Herbert Henry Asquith. In the interwar years, it oscillated between the Liberals and Labour, before the Liberals lost the seat for the final time in 1945. Aside from an exotic interlude caused by a defection, the town then remained continuously in Labour’s grip until 70 years later, when its two present-day constituencies (also incorporating the entirety of Renfrewshire) went the same way as the rest of Scotland in the 2015 SNP landslide. Based on past precedent, the SNP may fancy their chances of staying in the ascendancy in Paisley for a good few decades themselves. Left-wing and centre-left politics seem almost hardwired into the local DNA.

READ MORE: General Election analysis: How are things looking for Mhairi Black?

But as a result of the 2017 election, the Tories are equally entitled to feel that talk of an unlikely right-wing breakthrough shouldn’t provoke quite as much mirth as before. The Paisley and Renfrewshire North seat held by Gavin Newlands is now, at least on paper, a three-way marginal. The SNP would lose it to Labour on a swing of less than 3%, and to the Tories on a swing of just under 5%. Before we start entertaining the possibility of a political earthquake, though, it should be remembered that a swing on that scale would be enough to put the Tories slightly ahead of the SNP across Scotland, and opinion polls are actually suggesting the SNP have extended their advantage over the Tories since 2017.

The possibility of surprise Scottish Tory gains in this election can’t be wholly ruled out, but they’re much more likely to occur in constituencies where the required swing is somewhat lower. The realistic target for the Tories in Paisley and Renfrewshire North is to seize second place from Labour, and on current polling trends they have a good chance of doing so. Ironically, the party that might be most happy about that outcome is the SNP. This is a constituency estimated to have voted Remain in 2016 by an almost two-to-one margin, and which had a decent Yes vote in 2014.

If Labour are taken out of the game and the SNP can portray future contests as a two-horse race between themselves and the Tories, there’s only ever going to be one winner. It’s therefore conceivable this election will take the SNP a step closer to the type of extended incumbency in the seat that the Liberals and Labour enjoyed before them.