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

Winner in 2017: Stephen Kerr (Conservatives)

THE Panelbase poll released on Sunday caused a reappraisal of where this campaign is heading, largely due to a projection suggesting that Stirling would be the one and only Scottish Tory seat to fall to the SNP.

In truth, there are good reasons for being sceptical about that projection. It assumes that the swing from Conservatives to SNP will be uniform across Scotland, which is unlikely to happen. And Panelbase has in recent times consistently reported a lower SNP vote share than YouGov, which leaves open the possibility that the national swing may be higher than the new poll suggests anyway. But if by any chance the projection is along the right lines, it dramatically increases the importance of the SNP actually succeeding in taking Stirling. The psychological difference between gaining one seat from the Tories and gaining no seats from the Tories would be immense.

The National:

Luckily, the SNP have strong grounds for optimism in Stirling, of which the most obvious is the tiny deficit they have to overcome. In the 2017 election, they missed out by just 148 votes, meaning they require a microscopic swing of less than 0.2% to recapture the seat. Essentially, they could stand still in relation to the Tories and they would have a 50/50 chance of coming out on top. Every single Scottish poll published this year has suggested they’re doing better than standing still. There’s always the possibility that the polls are wrong or that a 2017-style, last-minute SNP slump could change the state of play, but as things stand the likelihood is that the Tories would need to buck the national trend to hold the constituency.

READ MORE: General Election Analysis: Glenrothes

If so, they’ve got a Brexit-sized problem, because their most marginal Scottish constituency just happens to also be one of the most pro-European areas of the UK. Only 32% of the Stirling electorate voted Leave which was well below the Scottish national figure of 38%, let alone the UK figure of 52%.

The SNP’s choice of a high-profile Member of the European Parliament to fight the seat is presumably intended to promote themselves as the most natural repository for the enormous local Remain vote and if that tactic succeeds, it may be impossible for the Tories to find sufficient numbers to even be competitive.

Needless to say, the Tories will try to avert that risk by changing the subject onto independence as much as humanly possible. That’s potentially an Achilles heel for the SNP because the No vote in the first independence referendum was 5% higher in Stirling than the national average. But voters who loathe the idea of independence but want to remain in the EU have the obvious option of switching from the Tories to the LibDems and that will still make it somewhat easier for the SNP to win.

The contest certainly looks tighter than had been expected a few weeks ago and the SNP won’t be helped by having to compete with a Green candidate for pro-EU and pro-independence votes. But due to the prominence of Brexit in the national campaign, it’s extremely hard to imagine the Tories retaining the seat.