Winner in 2016: Joe FitzPatrick (SNP)

THE best evidence of Gordon Wilson’s personal influence on the SNP’s early successes in Dundee East is the fact his results were not replicated in the neighbouring constituency of Dundee West.

The SNP failed to take the seat even at their pre-devolution high watermark of October 1974, and indeed were only third in February 1974 when Wilson was winning next door for the first time.

Matters only got worse when the tide went out on the SNP nationally in the 1980s – they slumped to fourth place here in 1983.

Although they had recovered to second by the 1990s, they were still light years behind Labour. However, as in other traditional Labour seats in the north-east, devolution as an event proved sufficient to fundamentally change the nature of the local political battle.

In the first two Scottish Parliament elections of 1999 and 2003, Dundee West was suddenly a very tight marginal, with Labour only holding off the SNP by margins of 0.4% and 4.2% respectively. Inevitably, that meant the seat was one of the minority of constituencies that fell to the SNP when they won power for the first time in 2007. Joe FitzPatrick was the winning candidate, and notably the 16% increase in his vote share was well in excess of the SNP’s national average.

Dundee’s emergence as Scotland’s leading Yes city at the 2014 independence has embedded the SNP as the default choice for many former Labour voters, and the traditional sharp difference between voting trends in the city’s two constituencies has almost evaporated completely, with FitzPatrick’s huge margin of victory in 2016 being only six points lower than Shona Robison’s in the neighbouring seat.

Dundee City West, just like Dundee City East, is now one of the seats the SNP could reasonably expect to hold even if they lost an election to Labour nationally.

But they’re not going to lose the national election – they’re probably going to win by miles, which means FitzPatrick is a shoo-in to be re-elected the local SNP MSP by a mammoth margin this week.