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


Winner in 2017: John McNally (SNP)

The 2015 election demonstrated that very odd and unexpected things can start to happen when there is an exceptionally large swing. For instance, you’d have imagined that the SNP would rack up their largest majority in one of the six constituencies where they were already the incumbents, but in fact it happened in Falkirk, a seat they had never previously won. Admittedly, they did have roots in the area – they’d held the Falkirk West seat in the Scottish Parliament since 2007, and had added the Falkirk East seat in 2011. But simply to win the Westminster constituency they had to come from more than 15% behind, so to end up with a majority of almost 20,000 votes was a remarkable achievement by any standards.

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A contributory factor may have been the chaos that had engulfed the local Labour party since the 2010 election. First the sitting MP had resigned from the party after a string of damaging incidents, and then the selection process to replace him had been marred by allegations of irregularities. The latter was an occurrence of such huge national significance that it led to an overhaul of the rules for electing the Labour leader, and indirectly to the advent of Corbynism. Inevitably, though, memories of the controversies had begun to fade by the time of the 2017 election, which may explain why there was a slight “correction” in local voting trends, with a bigger swing back to Labour than in most constituencies.

Falkirk slipped from having the largest SNP majority to only the sixth largest, but it’s still a comparatively secure-looking seat. Labour have a 9% deficit to overcome, which means on a uniform swing they’d need to be almost level-pegging with the SNP across Scotland before they’d gain the seat. Even a 2017-style Corbyn surge would be highly unlikely to take them quite that far. And although the Tories appear from the 2017 figures to be well in the mix, the swing they need to take the seat would actually put them ahead of the SNP nationally, which is an equally fantastical proposition. The SNP incumbent John McNally should have very little to worry about on December 12.