The National:

Winner in 2016: Oliver Mundell (Conservative)

IN contrast to Galloway and West Dumfries, the SNP tradition in Dumfriesshire isn’t especially strong. The party has never held the Holyrood constituency or its predecessor seat of Dumfries.

Indeed, even when they put up a heavyweight candidate in the shape of Mike Russell in 2007, they only finished third with 19% of the vote.

Meanwhile, the overlapping Westminster constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale was one of only three seats in the whole of Scotland that the SNP failed to take in the 2015 landslide. The Tory survivor on that occasion was former Scottish secretary David Mundell, the father of the current local MSP Oliver Mundell, who gained his own seat from Labour in 2016.

There was certainly no shame in the SNP failing to keep the younger Mundell out last time around in the context of the national Tory surge, but what is perhaps more concerning is that they only finished third in the seat when they won an overall majority in 2011, and were around 13 percentage points behind the Labour victor Elaine Murray.

The flip side of the coin, though, is that with Labour now having been pushed into third place themselves, the constituency looks increasingly like a two-horse Tory-SNP race, and the anti-Tory vote may coalesce behind the SNP in the way that it used to coalesce behind Labour.

Remarkably, less than a 2% swing would be required for the SNP to take the seat for the first time, and recent polls suggest that’s at least within the realms of the possible.

An important sub-plot is generated by the fact that Dumfriesshire is within the South Scotland electoral region – the only one of the eight regions where the SNP won multiple list seats in 2016.

That means, in contrast to most other parts of the country, that there are SNP candidates standing in the constituencies who may actually have an equal or better chance of being elected on the list. That’s certainly the case for the Dumfriesshire candidate Joan McAlpine, who has been a South Scotland list MSP since 2011.

However, she missed out on top spot in the SNP list rankings this time, possibly due to the controversial new “reserved places” rule.

That arguably puts a little more pressure on her to win the constituency seat, just in case other results conspire against her on the list.

Luckily she has a genuine chance of doing that – and if she succeeds it would undoubtedly be one of the most spectacular SNP wins of this election.