The National: Yes election 2021 banner image

Winner in 2016: Ruth Maguire (SNP)

ONE of the reasons Cunninghame North proved so pivotal for the SNP in 2007 was that the neighbouring constituency of Cunninghame South remained firmly in the Labour column.

The increase in the SNP vote here was actually well in excess of what Kenny Gibson achieved, as indeed was the net swing from Labour to SNP.

However, the much bigger cushion that Labour started with ensured they comfortably retained the seat.

That illustrates the inbuilt advantage Labour used to enjoy in Scottish politics – even when they were slightly behind the SNP on the national popular vote, they still found themselves in cruise control in the bulk of their traditional heartland seats. But naturally that advantage melted away in 2011 when the SNP’s national lead ceased to be slight and moved well into double digits.

Cunninghame South was one of 20 constituency seats Labour lost, and the margin of SNP victory was reasonably emphatic at around 11% – although admittedly that was still close enough to keep Labour within theoretical striking distance if the political weather had moved back in their favour.

Instead the opposite happened in 2016 due to the big swing from Labour to Tory, although unlike in Cunninghame North the Tories were starting from a very low base and were never in with a shout of edging into second place.

So Labour remain the challengers to the SNP, but the deficit they have to overcome is an incredibly daunting 22 percentage points. At the moment, it’s not even clear from national polls that there will be any swing back to Labour at all.

So it’s entirely possible that the SNP’s majority in the constituency could actually grow even bigger.

At the very least, then, the incumbent SNP MSP Ruth Maguire looks assured of a clear and decisive re-election.