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

Winner in 2017: Hugh Gaffney (Labour)

THERE’LL be no excuse at all for any tactical voting website to use the Tory bogeyman to justify a recommendation to vote Labour in Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, because there’s virtually no constituency in the whole UK that is less likely to ever elect a Conservative MP. Just 16% of the local electorate voted Tory in 2017, which by past standards is actually an exceptionally high figure. Between 1997 and 2010, the Conservative vote never exceeded 9%, and once fell as low as 6%. Curiously, though, the predecessor constituency of Monklands West recorded a respectable Tory share of 22% in 1983 – the last election before 2017 in which the Tories were in the high 20s across Scotland. That suggests the Ruth Davidson surge didn’t quite reach its full potential in Coatbridge. Maybe that was because Labour managed to squeeze the Tory vote by presenting themselves as the best anti-SNP option, but it may also be that local voters were disproportionately less likely to be impressed by Davidson’s “No to Indyref2” pitch. North Lanarkshire was, after all, one of only four local authorities to return a majority Yes vote in September 2014.

READ MORE: General Election analysis: A tough Labour-held target in East Lothian

Although this heavily Remain-voting constituency is free to make a genuinely straight choice between the pro-Remain SNP and the studied neutrality of Jeremy Corbyn, it’s unlikely that Brexit will be the decisive factor here. What will matter far more is whether the deep-seated cultural pull of Labour reasserts itself, as it unexpectedly did two years ago. Prior to the SNP landslide of 2015, Coatbridge had been one of the most Labour-dominated areas in the entire UK. The realignment of political loyalties caused by the indyref appeared to have changed that for good, but Labour’s narrow recapture of the seat from the SNP on a 13% swing suggests that old habits die hard.

Another 2017-style Corbyn surge could reignite Labour hopes of a second successive comeback win. But this is the SNP’s sixth top target seat, and they require less than a 2% swing to take it back – on a uniform trend they would need a national lead over Labour of around 14%. It would be a major shock if that didn’t happen.