WE’VE come a long way since the days in the run-up to the 2015 election when metropolitan commentators sneered that the SNP were being disrespectful to the electorate of Paisley and Renfrewshire South by putting forward a 20-year-old candidate in the shape of Mhairi Black.

We were assured there was little danger of voters being foolish enough to toss aside the maturity, experience and gargantuan intellect of Labour’s Douglas Alexander in favour of someone barely out of school.

Such predictions proved haplessly wrong on two counts: Black deposed Alexander on an enormous swing, and then quickly established herself as one of Scotland’s star MPs, in respect of both her work ethic and her oratorical capabilities.

READ MORE: General Election analysis: Will the SNP stay in the ascendancy in Paisley?

Still only 25, there’s little doubt she’s in fact a net asset to the SNP as a local electoral force. Although the personal popularity of MPs is usually less of a factor in urban elections than it is in rural contests, it seems plausible that Black is a big enough name to add a non-trivial number of votes to the SNP’s tally in her constituency. It may not be coincidental that in 2017, her vote share dropped by three percentage points less than the national average for the SNP – and if so, her personal vote played an important part in saving the day.

The SNP’s margin of victory over Labour in Paisley and Renfrewshire South was just 6%. Unlike her colleague in the neighbouring constituency, Black probably can’t look forward to the Tories taking over from Labour as her principal opponent after this election. In 2017, Labour had a 15% advantage over the Tories in her seat, which ought to be large enough to withstand the loss of support that appears to be inevitably coming. On the plus side, though, the fact that Labour are the only party within striking distance of the SNP means Black’s position is even more impregnable in the immediate future than that of Gavin Newlands – because the chances of there being any sort of swing from the SNP to Labour look remote in the extreme.