IF it hadn’t been for the late drama of the LibDem leader Jo Swinson being unseated, the defining moment of election night in 2019 for SNP supporters would probably have been Dave Doogan’s extravagant fist-pumping celebration on stage as his victory over the sitting Tory MP for Angus, Kirstene Hair, was announced.

It set the scene for a thoroughly satisfying evening during which the SNP reclaimed a little more than half of the 13 seats that the Conservatives were defending in Scotland.

Until a little more than a year ago, it seemed highly likely that Tory unpopularity meant the story of the 2024 election would be the SNP finishing the job in the six remaining Tory seats, with there being no real doubt that they would retain all of the seats they already held, such as the newly-renamed Angus and Perthshire Glens.

But those seats might now have come back into play for the Conservatives to some extent, not because the Tory government has become any more popular, but simply because the anti-Tory vote is now more split due to votes Labour have taken from the SNP.

That development is richly ironic in the light of the constant wildly misleading claims that a vote for Labour is a vote to kick out the Tories.

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Stephen Kerr – the controversial list MSP and former MP for Stirling who is standing for the Tories in Angus and Perthshire Glens – has repeatedly talked up his chances of gaining the seat against the odds.

There has been a substantial boundary revision, which has brought in a large chunk of Pete Wishart’s old Perth and North Perthshire constituency, but because the balance of party support in that constituency was similar to that in Angus, it hasn’t changed the equation much.

Kerr would have been seeking to overturn an SNP advantage of nine percentage points on the old boundaries, and in the new seat, the notional 2019 results show a gap of around eight points.

On a uniform swing, then, Kerr can expect to win if the Tories move to within twelve points of the SNP nationally.

Simply by default because of SNP voters moving to Labour, the Tories do seem to have cut into their national lead over themselves since the last general election, but for the most part, the opinion polls do not suggest they’ve cut it to as little as twelve points.

The National: Scottish Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr, speaking at the Ulster Unionist Party conference in Belfast. Picture date: Saturday October 9, 2021..

So although the result in Angus and Perthshire Glens could potentially be a bit too close for comfort, Dave Doogan remains the clear favourite to hold for the SNP.

If he does, he’ll be extending a rich tradition for his party in Angus which began with Andrew Welsh narrowly gaining the old Angus South constituency from the Tories in October 1974.

Welsh then came startlingly close to retaining the seat against the tide in 1979.

After an eight-year gap, he returned to parliament for the redrawn Angus East constituency in 1987, and held the seat (which later changed its name again to simply Angus) until 2001, when he stepped down to concentrate on his work as MSP for the equivalent seat in Holyrood.

Mike Weir replaced him as the local SNP MP, and stayed on for 16 years until Kirstene Hair upset the apple cart in 2017.

A second win for Doogan would leave Hair’s two-year tenure looking like a very minor interruption in service because the SNP would have won the constituency in a remarkable nine out of ten consecutive general elections.