Winner in 2016: James Dornan (SNP)

IT seems like a different world now, but in its former incarnation as a Westminster constituency, Glasgow Cathcart was once a Conservative stronghold.

Major demographic changes eroded the Tories’ position over time, but as late as the general election of October 1974, which was won by Labour across the UK, Teddy Taylor was re-elected Cathcart’s Conservative MP by a majority of more than 1700 votes.

Ironically, the seat was finally taken by Labour for the first time when Thatcher won her first general election in 1979. The Tories failed to grab it back in their 1983 UK landslide, although they did at least remain competitive.

However in 1987 their local vote collapsed to just 22% – lower even than across Scotland as a whole, and since then they’ve never been serious contenders to win Cathcart.

That said, there’s still been a very faint echo of the Tory glory days since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

The Tories have tended to poll a little better in the Holyrood constituency of Cathcart than in other Glasgow seats – for example in 2003 they took 13% of the vote, which put them only three percentage points behind the second placed SNP.

However, by 2007 the SNP were at almost 30% and practically had three times as many votes as the Tories.

In 2011 the SNP’s James Dornan achieved the seemingly impossible by winning the seat outright, and in contrast to some of the other Glasgow seats the SNP won that year, he even had a bit of a cushion – his majority was close to 1600 votes.

Nevertheless, there was a sense after the 2012 local elections that Glasgow was returning to politics as usual, and that the SNP breakthrough the previous year had been a freakish result. Dornan could easily have ended up as a one-term constituency MSP – but then the 2014 independence referendum came along and changed Glasgow politics utterly.

People who had identified as rock-solid Labour voters all their lives moved wholesale to the SNP. In 2016 Labour’s vote share in Cathcart was almost halved, while Dornan secured an absolute majority of votes.

He still faced a major battle to remain an MSP in this year’s election, but that was due simply to the internal politics of the SNP. The party’s NEC initially refused to accept his reversal of an earlier decision to retire, and attempted to impose an all-woman shortlist to replace him.

But having got that ruling overturned, his rendezvous with the electorate is unlikely to prove anything like as daunting. He looks set to be re-elected in May by a substantial margin.