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


The National:

Winner in 2017: Ronnie Cowan, (SNP)

If there’s one thing that distinguishes Inverclyde from similar SNP-Labour marginal constituencies elsewhere in the central belt, it’s probably its past history of flirtations with the Liberals. In the mid-1970s the Liberal candidate in the predecessor seat of Greenock and Port Glasgow was none other than future LibDem leader Menzies Campbell, and he achieved a creditable 21% of the vote at a time when the main story in Scottish politics was a seemingly unstoppable SNP bandwagon.

Remarkably, his lesser-known successor in the 1979 election managed to buck a UK-wide anti-Liberal trend by securing an even more impressive 28% of the vote, and that may have been a decisive factor in persuading the local Labour MP Dickson Mabon to defect to the new Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981. The theory was that if a significant minority of the Labour vote followed Mabon across, and if the existing Liberal vote could be co-opted, then the seat could be successfully defended for the SDP-Liberal Alliance. If that had worked, politics in Inverclyde might have followed a very different path in the years afterwards. But in the end, Labour prevailed in the 1983 election by a comfortable enough margin of 47% to 36%, and that proved to be the most recent high watermark for Liberalism in the area.

The LibDem vote in Inverclyde in the 2017 election was a pitiful 2.5%, which left all the patient groundwork of past decades looking like a complete waste of time.

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

However, this is a strongly Remain constituency, and there may be an opportunity for the LibDems to mount a minor comeback by taking anti-independence but pro-European votes away from Labour and the Conservatives. If that does happen, the real beneficiary would be the SNP, who are defending a wafer-thin lead over Labour of just 1%.

YouGov’s local projection concurs with the message of Scotland-wide polls, though: Labour’s vote has fallen over the last two years, and the SNP’s vote has risen. Unless something fundamentally changes over the closing weeks of the campaign, the SNP should strengthen their hold on Inverclyde, with or without any LibDem help.