The National:

Winner in 2016: Maureen Watt (SNP)

WHEREAS northern Aberdeen was rock-solid Labour until an SNP surge at around the time of devolution, the southern part of the city was traditionally a Tory-Labour battleground – but one that generally leaned Tory.

The only success for Labour in the Westminster constituency of Aberdeen South in the first few decades after the Second World War came in 1966 when Harold Wilson’s national landslide was handsome enough to carry a young Donald Dewar over the line. But the future Scottish secretary and first minister lost the seat in 1970 and it remained in Tory hands even when Labour won narrow UK-wide victories in the two general election of 1974.

The mould wasn’t broken until 1987 when a wave of anti-Tory tactical voting across Scotland worked in Labour’s favour locally.

After an interlude when the Tories unexpectedly reclaimed the seat, Labour won again in the Blair landslide of 1997 – but in retrospect more significant was the fact that the LibDems’ Nicol Stephen split up the usual duopoly and moved into second place. He used that success as a springboard to win the Holyrood version of the seat in 1999 and repeated the trick in 2003 and 2007.

With the redrawing of the constituency in 2011 to include North Kincardine, it arguably should have become even more favourable for the LibDems, not least because Stephen himself had famously won the old Westminster seat of Kincardine and Deeside in a landmark 1991 by-election.

However by 2011 the nationwide LibDem collapse had intervened and, with the Tory resurgence still several years away, the path was completely cleared for Maureen Watt of the SNP to grab the new seat by the impressive margin of 22 percentage points.

Inevitably that advantage was sharply cut by the Tories in their comeback year of 2016 and they now require a swing of only 4.3% to gain the constituency. However, they face a major problem that they don’t have to worry about in some of their other north-east target seats – namely, the unpopularity of Brexit in Aberdeen.

That was probably the biggest reason that the Tories dismally failed to hold Aberdeen South in the 2019 UK General Election and it may also help the SNP’s new Holyrood candidate Audrey Nicoll to win on Thursday.