The National:

Winner in 2016: Mairi Evans (SNP)

ANGUS North and Mearns is a composite constituency that stretches into the Aberdeenshire council area.

That means it includes a part of the old West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine seat, which the SNP never even came close to winning.

Mike Rumbles of the Liberal Democrats claimed it in 1999, 2003 and 2007, with his only real scare coming from a Tory challenge on the first of those occasions. (That said, the SNP went on to briefly hold the Westminster constituency of the same name, which was never abolished.)

But the bulk of Angus North and Mearns is comprised of very long-standing SNP territory from the old Angus and North Tayside seats.

So it was no surprise that Nigel Don, who had already been an SNP list MSP for four years, took the new constituency when it was first contested in 2011 with a handsome majority of 7286 votes.

His involuntary departure from the Parliament in 2016 after deselection allowed him to embark on a very different life as a full-time composer, and he was replaced as SNP candidate by Mairi Evans, later known by her French-flavoured married name of Mairi Gougeon.

She held the seat in defiance of the Davidson surge, and although there was a large 10% swing from SNP to Tory, her majority was a reasonably comfortable 2472 votes. That was arguably a strong performance, bearing in mind that her Tory opponent was the very well-regarded Alex Johnstone.

I will pass no comment on whether anyone would ever dream of applying the descriptor “well-regarded” to this year’s new Tory candidate. Braden Davy is a young man who already has a political past of so many twists and turns that not even Jim Sillars can compete.

He started out as a campaigner for Northumbrian national identity, then re-invented himself as a Labour candidate in the north-east of Scotland, suffering defeat at the hands of Alex Salmond in the Westminster constituency of Gordon in 2015.

He subsequently defected to the Tories, and became known for expressing hardline pro-Brexit and ultra-Unionist views on social media.

The possibility of a surprise win for Davy can’t be completely ruled out given the Tories’ results in the overlapping Westminster seats since 2016. However, as is the case in Angus South, it’s likely that Angus North and Mearns would only become truly competitive if the Tories can manage a national result close to the one they recorded in the 2017 Westminster election.

As opinion polls currently show them falling well short of that, Mairi Gougeon can afford to be cautiously optimistic about her prospects of being re-elected as an SNP constituency MSP.