The National:

Winner in 2016: Jenny Gilruth (SNP)

THIS is another seat that ought to be extremely one-sided if its history is anything to go by.

In its previous incarnation as Central Fife, it was held for a time by the former Labour first minister, Henry McLeish. At the inaugural Scottish Parliament election of 1999, he defeated the SNP’s Tricia Marwick by the commanding margin of 26 percentage points.

Astonishingly, though, within just six years of McLeish relinquishing the highest office in the land in 2001, his former seat wasin SNP hands.

It was one of only a minority of constituency seats that the SNP won in a narrow national election victory in 2007 that depended to a large extent on list seats.

A reasonable assumption, then, is that Mid-Fife and Glenrothes would not be one of the constituencies to change hands this year if Labour were to make only a partial comeback.

Nevertheless, the SNP famously suffered one major post-2017 setback in this neck of the woods, and it happened the very next year in the equivalent Westminster constituency of Glenrothes.

A by-election opportunity opened up to grab what would at the time have been only the eighth SNP seat at Westminster, and it seemed likely to be taken. Even while the count was well under way, the broadcasters were reporting a probable SNP gain.

It remains a mystery to this day why the expectations of both sides were so out of line with what eventually proved to be a comfortable Labour hold. The result drained momentum from the SNP nationally and set Labour up for what in retrospect was their last “normal” General Election in 2010, in which they managed to retain all of their heartland Scottish seats, including Glenrothes by the enormous margin of 41 percentage points.

But Peter Grant, the defeated SNP candidate in the 2008 by-election, belatedly made up for the disappointment by capturing the seat in the post-indyref 2015 landslide.

SNP dominance of the area now looks total – Grant’s majority at the 2019 General Election was close to 12,000 votes, and although the party have lost the advantage of whatever personal vote Marwick built up in the Holyrood seat, the incumbent MSP Jenny Gilruth (right) will be defending an enormous 29% lead over Labour in May.

That means on a uniform swing that Labour would actually need to be ahead of the SNP nationally before they could hope to gain the seat. The SNP can look forward to something of a walkover in May.