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


Winner in 2017: Patrick Grady (SNP)

THERE has been much discussion in this campaign about the effect on the Conservatives of the Brexit Party choosing to stand in selected seats, or the effect on the SNP of the Greens deciding to put up candidates in certain constituencies. 

As far as the latter is concerned, one seat worth watching is Glasgow North, where the Greens have a strong recent track record. At the last election they not only stood there, but actually put up their high-profile and charismatic co-leader Patrick Harvie as a candidate. 

On the day he submitted his nomination papers, he probably believed he was participating in a contest that would result in a routine SNP hold. But jitters increased in the SNP camp as the Corbyn surge kicked in over the course of the campaign. 

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

By election night it was clear that the swing to Labour in Scotland was even bigger than forecast by the polls, and that several of the Glasgow seats, including Glasgow North, were unexpectedly on a knife-edge.

Perhaps inevitably given his personal popularity in a university constituency, Harvie had taken almost 10% of the vote, and the recriminations started early on social media about how he had apparently gifted the seat to a Unionist party by diverting votes away from the SNP. 

That turned out to be a false alarm, because the SNP’s Patrick Grady ultimately held off the Labour challenge by a 3% margin. But was the contest much closer than it needed to be because of the Green intervention?

It’s not entirely clear. The drop in the SNP vote was 15.5%, which was greater than in three of the other six Glasgow seats, and less than in the other two. 
But the Greens had also put up a candidate in the 2015 election and had taken 6% of the vote then, so it’s possible that any negative effect on the SNP was already partly factored in. 

READ MORE: General Election analysis: SNP look safe enough in Livingston 

The only way of knowing for sure would have been to poll Harvie’s voters and ask them who they would have voted for if he hadn’t been on the ballot paper. 
It’s safe to assume they wouldn’t all have broken the SNP’s way, but they may well have been more likely to be inclined towards the SNP than towards Labour.

If so, Harvie’s candidacy could conceivably have tipped the balance in Labour’s favour if the swing had been just a little greater.

Mercifully, that ought to be an academic question as far as this month’s race in Glasgow North is concerned. The SNP only need to stand their ground in relation to Labour to hold the seat, and opinion polls currently suggest they’re on course to do far better than that. 

Unless another improbable Corbyn bandwagon starts rolling over the coming days, Grady ought to be comfortably re-elected no matter how well the Greens do in the constituency this time.