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

MORAY Winner in 2017: Douglas Ross (Conservatives)

The people of Moray voted to remain in the EU.

It’s worth making that simple point because a false perception has developed that this former SNP heartland constituency is now out of reach due to overwhelming support for Brexit.

The Remain majority was waferthin, of course, but if the local Tory v SNP battle turns into a Leave v Remain proxy war, it’s by no means clear that the SNP would start with a disadvantage. Admittedly it won’t work quite like that, because the Tory vote is fuelled both by support for Brexit and opposition to independence, and the No majority in the indyref was higher in Moray than the national average.

READ MORE: General Election: A hat-trick of victories on the horizon for the SNP

But not all that much higher: 42% of voters in the constituency voted Yes. The local conditions may not be as favourable for the SNP as they are in places like Glasgow or Dundee, but they’re by no means hostile either. That may explain why Angus Robertson’s attempted defence of the seat in 2017 was actually somewhat more impressive than he’s given credit for.

Even with an 11% drop in support, he still claimed 39% of the vote – enough for victory in many other seats. The snag is most of the people who didn’t vote for him seem to have a much higher level of hostility towards the SNP than would be encountered in the vast majority of seats outwith the north-east, and are therefore extremely motivated to coalesce behind the Tories to keep the SNP out.

A council by-election in the constituency during this campaign illustrated how much of a hurdle that is: the SNP’s vote held up well, but the Tories narrowly overtook them with a 9% increase. Candidates from outside the two big parties were crowded out and left with only 20% of the vote. Unlike in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, there’s no history of recent LibDem strength in Moray that can hold out the theoretical hope of the Tories suffering a big swing to another Unionist party. There seems precious little chance now of Tory voters switching to Labour in big numbers, so there are no short-cuts for the SNP – to win the seat they’ll need an exceptionally high vote share.

If the swing from the Tories implied by some (but not all) of the opinion polls is anything to go by, it may just about be possible, but it certainly won’t be easy.