The National:

Winner in 2016: Bill Kidd (SNP)

THE history of Glasgow Anniesland is a reminder that “dual mandates” weren’t always greeted with such horror as they are now. During his tenure as the original first minister, Donald Dewar held both the Holyrood constituency and its Westminster equivalent, with his premature death triggering dual by-elections.

Not that there was ever the slightest doubt about the outcome of those votes. Dewar had taken Labour to commanding victories in Anniesland, and in the predecessor seat of Glasgow Garscadden, in every UK General Election since 1979, with his majority peaking at almost 19,000 votes in 1987.

The last time there had been anything resembling a competitive contest was in the 1978 by-election caused by the death of Dewar’s predecessor William Small.

The SNP had been expected to build on their momentum from the 1974 General Elections by gaining the seat, but Dewar won by the relatively comfortable margin of 12.5%. That marked the end of the 1970s SNP surge and heralded the return to Labour dominance as usual.

The familiar pattern continued for several years after Dewar’s death, with his replacement as MSP, Bill Butler, beating the SNP candidate Bill Kidd in Anniesland by as much as 28 percentage points in the 2003 Holyrood election.

And yet, a little more than a decade later, Kidd had completely turned the tables and defeated Butler by 21 points in 2016.

So how has a Labour heartland seat been transformed into a rock-solid SNP stronghold in such a short space of time? The simplest answer is the legacy of the independence referendum.

Glasgow voted Yes, and many traditional Labour voters in the city were confronted for the first time with the reality that they had been giving their loyalty to a party that was completely out of tune with their aspirations for their country.

Almost overnight, committed Labour voters became committed SNP voters, and they haven’t looked back since.

However, that can’t be the whole explanation, because the SNP first gained Anniesland, along with several other Glasgow seats, three years before the referendum.

The victories were narrow, but they suggested that something had fundamentally changed in Glasgow politics even without the Yes factor.

Leadership undoubtedly played a part in the 2011 election, with Iain Gray commanding much less confidence as a potential first minister than Alex Salmond, but there was once a time when Labour could have been led by the proverbial donkey in a red rosette and still swept the board in Glasgow.

Perhaps the years of Blairism and the invasion of Iraq had gradually eroded trust in Labour and earned the SNP a hearing.

A hearing is all it was, though. In 2012, the SNP’s high hopes of capturing Glasgow City Council were dashed, with Labour holding onto power by a surprisingly comfortable margin.

If it hadn’t been for the intervention of the indyref, Labour may well have remained the default choice for Glasgow voters, with the SNP just getting an occasional look-in when they ran a particularly good campaign, or when the Labour offering looked particularly unappetising.

As it is, Anniesland has become just as natural an SNP seat as it was once a Labour seat.

A very large 11% swing would be required for the SNP to lose in May, and there’s no reason to expect anything even vaguely close to that.

In fact, current polling evidence implies that the SNP majority may increase further.