Winner in 2017: David Mundell (Conservatives)

INDEPENDENCE supporters have long fantasised about the possibility of removing former Scottish secretary David Mundell from the Commons, but let’s subject ourselves to a reality check. In 2015, the SNP took 50% of the Scotland -wide vote and the Tories took just 15%, yet Mundell still managed to retain his Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale seat by the skin of his teeth. If he couldn’t be beaten when the SNP had a 35% nationwide advantage over his party, it seems highly improbable that he’ll run into any difficulty now that the gap is considerably narrower.

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Mundell is defending a majority of more than 9000 votes from 2017, making him more secure from an SNP challenge than all but one of his Scottish Tory colleagues. Admittedly there was a time earlier this year when the huge drift of Tory voters to the Brexit Party made it appear the required swing might be just about achievable. But thanks to Nigel Farage’s decision to give all sitting Tory MPs a free run, that moment seems to have well and truly passed.

The only possible glimmer of hope would be if there is an enormous localised swing towards another Unionist party at the expense of the Tories, allowing the SNP to come through the middle and win. But there’s no particular reason to suspect that will happen. Unlike the neighbouring constituency held by John Lamont, there is no recent history of the Liberal Democrats winning the seat or putting up a strong challenge.

The National:

It’s true that the Tweeddale area was famously part of David Steel’s now-defunct constituency when he was leader of the Liberal Party, but that was a long time ago, and since the present-day seat was created in 2005 the LibDems have never done better than 20% of the vote.

Other than the SNP’s near miss, the party that have actually come closest to defeating Mundell were Labour in 2005, but there seems to be little chance of them attracting a large number of disaffected Tory votes on this occasion. Unsurprisingly, the YouGov projection gives Mundell a healthy double-digit advantage. The SNP don’t necessarily have to regard this as a lost cause for all time, but the seat will probably only come back into play if and when the Tories once again slip below 20% of the national vote. That isn’t going to happen in this election, so we may just have to resign ourselves to being stuck with Mundell for a few more years.