Argyll & Bute

2015 Result:
Conservative: 7733 (14.9%)
Labour: 5394 (10.4%)
Lib Dem: 14486 (27.9%)
SNP: 22959 (44.3%)
UKIP: 1311 (2.5%)
MAJORITY: 8473 (16.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Highlands and Islands. The whole of the Argyll and Bute council area.

Main population centres: Oban, Helensburgh, Rothesay, Inveraray, Tobermory, Lochgilphead, Campbeltown.

Profile: A Scottish seat covering a huge swathe of sparsely populated countryside. The seat includes the whole of the Argyll & Bute council area including many Scottish islands such as Mull, Bute, Jura, Tiree, Islay and the religious community on the isle of Iona, the burial place of the early Kings of Scotland. Other industries include tourism, forestry and fishing and, more recently, energy production through the expansion of wind farms. The seat also includes Faslane, the base of the UK`s Trident nuclear armed submarine fleet. The constituency is mainly rural. The two largest towns are the ferry port of Oban and Helensburgh, a commuter town for Glasgow.

Politics: Between 2001 and 2010 this constituency was something of a four way marginal, with as little as 10% dividing first to fourth place. In 2015 it followed most of the rest of Scotland in delivering an easy victory for the SNP.

Current MP
BRENDAN O`HARA (SNP) Born Glasgow. Educated at St Andrews Secondary and Strathclyde University. Former television producer. Contested Glasgow Springburn 1987, Glasgow Central 1992. First elected as MP for Argyll & Bute in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 10861 (24%)
Lab: 10274 (23%)
LDem: 14292 (32%)
SNP: 8563 (19%)
Oth: 1217 (3%)
MAJ: 3431 (8%)
Con: 10150 (23%)
Lab: 9696 (22%)
LDem: 15786 (37%)
SNP: 6716 (16%)
Oth: 881 (2%)
MAJ: 5636 (13%)
Con: 6436 (21%)
Lab: 7592 (25%)
LDem: 9245 (30%)
SNP: 6433 (21%)
Oth: 1251 (4%)
MAJ: 1653 (5%)
Con: 6774 (19%)
Lab: 5596 (16%)
LDem: 14359 (40%)
SNP: 8278 (23%)
Oth: 713 (2%)
MAJ: 6081 (17%)

2015 Candidates
ALASTAIR REDMAN (Conservative) Born 1987. Postmaster.
MARY GALBRAITH (Labour) Born Campbeltown. Educated at Glasgow University. Contested Highlands and Islands 1999 Scottish election, Argyll and Bute 2007 Scottish election, East Dunbartonshire 20107.
ALAN REID (Liberal Democrat) Born 1954, Ayr. Educated at Ayr Academy and Strathclyde University. Computer project manager. Renfrewshire councillor 1988-1996. Contested Paisley and Renfreshire South 1992, Dunbartonshire West 1997. MP for Argyll and Bute 2001 to 2015.
CAROLINE SANTOS (UKIP) Educated at Dunoon Grammar.
BRENDAN O`HARA (SNP) Born Glasgow. Educated at St Andrews Secondary and Strathclyde University. Television producer. Contested Glasgow Springburn 1987, Glasgow Central 1992.
Comments - 378 Responses on “Argyll & Bute”
  1. How likely is a Con (or LD) gain here?

  2. BT, we may have a better idea at the weekend – not just here but across Scotland.

  3. Alan Reid performed fairly well here for the Lib Dems in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election (indeed, the Lib Dems went up from 4th to 2nd and increased the vote by 13.6%). If he’s the candidate here again in June then I think the Lib Dems will again have a reasonable share of the vote, although probably not enough to win.

  4. The 2001 boundaries excluded Helensburgh and Lomond Plopwell, which is the best part of the constituency for the Conservatives.

    The Conservatives are fairly weak across most of the Highlands outside of Moray, which is quite odd as the area has a high proportion of English-born and is, obviously, rural in nature.

    In saying that personality is very important in the Highlands and Islands: particularly in the Northern Isles (Orkney & Shetland).

    In Argyll & Bute the SNP’s main strongholds are Oban, Bute and Dunoon. Helensburgh and Lomond is the most affluent part of the constituency, very English and very prone to tactical voting having voted Lib Dem in 2015 and Labour in 2016, which got Jackie Baillie elected in Dumbarton. Under normal circumstances it would almost certainly be Tory. Oddly the Conservatives are also relatively strong in southern Kintyre, an area which should be better for the SNP based on its demographics. The rest of the constituency is average/slightly better for the Conservatives and Lib Dems relative to the constituency as a whole.

  5. One thing that truly astonishes me is how minimal an impact residents born in the rest of the UK seem to have had on the No vote in the north of Scotland.

    Relative to their demographics, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Highland, Moray and Western Isles had above average Yes votes – and that’s before taking in to account the large rest of the UK born populations there.

    The SNP must be well-ahead among Scottish born residents in those areas, especially Highland.

    There is also a fairly strong rest of the UK born population in Glasgow Kelvin – an area which voted Yes to independence, perhaps due to a strong ethnic minority/european population there.

    Most of the Conservatives strength in the North East of Scotland relies on voters born from elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Once you factor that in, the only area where the Conservatives command a significant presence is in Ayr (where the proportion of residents born elsewhere in the UK are well below average relative to the rest of Scotland). I suppose that just goes to emphasise how out-of-sync South Ayrshire is relative to the rest of Scotland (demographically it should be firmly SNP).

  6. Possibly they did have quite an impact. Perhaps many of the oil related voters are happy to support an independent Scotland in the EU? Perhaps also many non Scots retired folks are happily settled in that beautiful part of the country which may have led to more of them voting yes than thought.

  7. @ Scottyboy – the parts of Aberdeenshire most reliant on the oil-industry voted heavily against independence in 2014, and voted Conservative in 2016.

    In the West End of Aberdeen and in Kingswells, where most oil-workers reside, No were ahead with over 75% of the vote in most areas. These areas went Tory in 2016.

    Cove Bay and Danestone went approximately 65% No and Bridge of Don 61% No. Outer suburbs in Aberdeenshire all went heavily against independence too, such as Newtonhill (65% No), Portlethen (65% No), Kintore & Keithhall (68% No) and Westhill (68%). Kintore and Westhill also went Tory in 2016 too.

    For some reason Yes did better in Dyce, Bankhead and Stoneywood to the north-west of the city (roughly 52% No), otherwise No were quite clearly ahead among oil workers, probably due to fears of uncertainty in the sector created as a result of independence.

  8. The former MP for this constituency, Alan Reid has been confirmed as the Lib Dem candidate here.

    Reid was also elected as a councillor in the constituency last week.

  9. Can/should we read anything into the fact that Nicola Sturgeon is visiting here today?

  10. Sturgeon has arrived here in the SNP helicopter.

  11. Doubt EU voters voted Yes in Kelvin. EU voters were heavily No in 2014. They may well not be voting at all in any future Indyref2

  12. I think we can all accept a lot of SNP votes across Scotland are soft, very few will break for the Tories though. The LibDems don’t seem to be making headway outside 3 or 4 target seats so SNP should hang on here

  13. Thursday night will prove it one way or the other

  14. I’ve been looking into the figures and it really does look grim for the Liberal Democrats in this part of the world.

    At the general election they’ve been virtually obliterated right across Scotland except for a few areas where they now remain the primary tactical unionist challengers against the SNP (that would now be limited to Caithness, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh West, North East Fife, Orkney and Shetland).

    Seats like Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk, Gordon and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine returned quite spectacular swings from the Liberal Democrats to the Conservatives at the general election as their vote unwound over to the Conservatives, who were (rightly) perceived to be the main unionist challengers in those seats against the SNP in those seats.

    Now that the party have slipped behind the Conservatives in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, Ross, Skye & Lochaber and Argyll & Bute it looks like their decline will continue in these areas.

    It seems that the Conservatives are poised to become the main party across large swathes of Argyll & Bute and the Highlands which were previously Liberal orange, including the entirety of Argyll excluding Bute, Dunoon and Oban and in the rural bits of the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey constituency outside of the city of Inverness itself. I believe that they might also become the largest party in the Black Isle and Wester Ross in Ross, Skye & Lochaber, with the SNP ahead in Dingwall, Seaforth, Skye and Lochaber.

  15. With the Lib Dem vote unwinding next time around the Conservatives should be competitive here. If the Conservatives maintain their current levels of support across Scotland at the next general election this would become a quite comfortable pick-up for the party assuming the SNP remains around where they are/not up significantly.

    The Scottish Parliamentary constituency of Argyll & Bute excludes the now solidly Tory town of Helensburgh, so they are less competitive on those boundaries.

  16. The Scottish Conservatives have been hoovering up 1000s of unionist votes in many constituencies. With Jo Swinton at the helm this could all unwind and culminate in some fairly large counter swings in 2022 or earlier. It was perhaps the swing from LD to Con that helped the SNP hold Fife NE.

  17. I mean, I a big fan of Jo, love that she was the first person to breastfeed in the commons chamber (okay that sounded weird), but I think it’s a bit early to be projecting onto her the superhuman qualities that we all appear to be attributing to her. She hasn’t even confirmed that she’ll run yet!

    Anyway, it’s debatable whether regional leader boosts are even a real thing. The Conservatives just lost Reading East, which is right next to Maidenhead.

  18. I think on regional leadership boosts the answer is ‘it depends’. Kinnock significantly helped Lab in Wales in 87 and 92, and Brown must have been a factor in Lab’s remarkably strong showing in Scotland in 2010. The LDs under Kennedy only did about as well in Scotland as elsewhere, however. And English leaders have not tended to get noticeable regional effects.

    My guess is that any Swinson boost in Scotland would only reflect any uptick in overall LD fortunes (perhaps triggered by a collapse in Tory support). If support remains at the kind of level it has been in recent years it is hard to see where in Scotland they could be competitive beyond the 4 seats they now hold and North East Fife

  19. Whats interesting is that the pre-1995 Argyll & Bute District Council area (and Holyrood constituency) seems solidly SNP with the exception of South Kintyar.

    The Conservatives have a solid lead in the former Dumbarton District Council area (which is part of the Dumbarton Holyrood Constituency).

  20. @ Dalek – it looks like South Kintyre went Conservative at the general election and that much of rural Argyll is likely to move more towards the Conservatives versus the national average (much like the Argyll & Bute constituency itself), though the SNP vote is solid in Dunoon, Bute and Oban.

  21. This could be the only tory gain in Scotland at the next election in addition to what they already hold.

    In theory it should be pretty easy for the Tories to aqueeze the residual LD unionist vote around Helensburgh/Lomond (which voted heavily for Jackie Baillie in 2016 against the SNP).

  22. In some of the recent Scotland polls the Torries look like they might lose a couple of seats rather than gain sets.

  23. The Tories could lose Stirling back to the SNP but nothing else looks in too much danger.

  24. on uniform swing yes. I imagine after this scandal the SNP might suffer

  25. I’m not sure. If Alex Salmond were still leader it would be different, but it must be said the party leadership (if not the membership) has done a good job of making a clean break with the Salmond era, particularly since he lost his seat in 2017.

    You wouldn’t expect the present Labour Party to suffer if Tony Blair found himself in hot water, would you?

  26. No but then Tony Blair has been out of frontline politics for over a decade

  27. I don’t think the SNP have handled this particularly well. You are right the leadership have sought to distance itself from Salmond but some MPs haven’t quite got the message. It’s added to the internal strife currently taking place over indyref2

  28. Helensburgh & Lomond South ward by-election, 18.03.21:

    Cons 1,206 51% ( + 12% )
    SNP 562
    LD 333
    Lab 133
    Green 123
    Workers 22

    Cons Gain from LD

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