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

Winner in 2017: Marion Fellows (SNP)

THERE’S an old Trivial Pursuit question that must have left egg on the faces of a good few SNP members in its time.

It asked for the first ever constituency to be captured by the party and naturally most would assume the correct answer is Hamilton. But back in the mists of time when the SNP were still a fringe party, future leader Dr Robert McIntyre pulled off a freakish 1945 by-election victory in Motherwell.

It’s much less wellknown than Winnie Ewing’s breakthrough 22 years later, perhaps because McIntyre only sat in the Commons for a few weeks before losing his seat back to Labour in the Attlee landslide.

But the fact he retained almost 27% of the vote in his General Election defeat would tend to imply he hadn’t owed his brief time in the sun to a protest vote, or at least not exclusively.

Sadly, the SNP squandered the chance of a legacy from the by-election by failing to even put up candidates in Motherwell between 1951 and 1966. After they finally rejoined the fray, there was no sign that this was territory in which they had particularly strong roots – in fact they tended to poll a little lower here than the national average. One exception was in the October 1974 election, when they took an impressive 32% of the vote in Motherwell and Wishaw, although even that left them 13 points behind the Labour winner.

It wasn’t until 70 years after McIntyre left parliament that Motherwell finally elected its second SNP MP in the shape of Marion Fellows. But the tendency of the constituency not to be especially favourable for the SNP reasserted itself in 2017, when Fellows only barely held off a Labour challenge. Luckily that now looks like a blip as if the opinion polls are even close to being accurate, the SNP should increase their majority.

READ MORE: General Election analysis: Polls suggest Labour losing Midlothian