Ayrshire Central

2015 Result:
Conservative: 8803 (17.3%)
Labour: 13410 (26.4%)
Lib Dem: 917 (1.8%)
SNP: 26999 (53.2%)
Green: 645 (1.3%)
MAJORITY: 13589 (26.8%)

Category: Safe SNP seat


Main population centres:



Current MP
PHILIPPA WHITFORD (SNP) Former consultant surgeon. First elected as MP for Ayrshire Central in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 8943 (20%)
Lab: 20950 (48%)
LDem: 5236 (12%)
SNP: 8364 (19%)
Oth: 422 (1%)
MAJ: 12007 (27%)
Con: 9482 (22%)
Lab: 19905 (46%)
LDem: 6881 (16%)
SNP: 4969 (12%)
Oth: 1634 (4%)
MAJ: 10423 (24%)
Con: 14256 (37%)
Lab: 16801 (44%)
LDem: 2089 (5%)
SNP: 4621 (12%)
Oth: 793 (2%)
MAJ: 2545 (7%)
Con: 15136 (34%)
Lab: 21679 (48%)
LDem: 2116 (5%)
SNP: 5625 (13%)
Oth: 200 (0%)
MAJ: 6543 (15%)

2015 Candidates
MARC HOPE (Conservative) Educated at Essex University. Former Wandsworth councillor.
BRIAN H DONOHOE (Labour) Born 1948, Kilmarnock. Educated at Irvine Royal Academy. Trade union officer. MP for Cunninghame South 1992 to 2015.
GORDON BAIN (Liberal Democrat) Born 1977. Web designer.
PHILIPPA WHITFORD (SNP) Consultant surgeon.
Comments - 63 Responses on “Ayrshire Central”
  1. The Tory vote seems to have held up here better than in places like East Renfrewshire or Glasgow South (measure over the past 43 years).

    The boundaries are fairly similar to the old Ayrshire Central (abolished in 1983), that was gained by Labour in 1959.

    Today the Conservative vote is double that of Glasgow South (Cathcart) and the constituency is not much safer than East Renfrewshire, despite being much less affluent.

  2. Demographic change is usually slower in rural areas and your observations are an example.

  3. The Tory vote here is concentrated in Troon that is a part of the Ayr Holyrood constituency.

  4. Yes the Westminster boundaries in this area are not very favourable for the Tories – their strength has been split between two seats, neither of which they can possibly win. Whereas the former Ayr seat was always in play for them.

  5. Is Prestwick in this seat too? That always used to be good Tory territory (or bad depending on your point of view 🙂 )

  6. Yes, Prestwick, Troon and Irvine are the three main towns in this constituency.

  7. There is a map on Brian Donohoes website –


    If Central Ayrshire was in the South of England this constituency would be surely a Tory marginal. Places like East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Stirling and Ochil & South Perthshire would all be safer Tory seats.

    If constituencies in London and the South East were to vote as if they were in Scotland, would there be any Tory MP’s within the M25?

  8. Prestwick, Troon, Loans and Dundoald all have a significant Tory presence, but this is marginal and undermined by the remainder of the constituency, which has been significantly socialist. Even if the Tories can receive 45% of the vote in those areas (which they were able to do in the 2003 local elections which had a big turnout) the SNP will no doubt secure around 37% of the vote in such areas which voted against independence by around 61/62%, leaving Labour with the remainder of the vote.

    Irvine – home of Nicola Sturgeon – will no doubt have strong support for the SNP. The area voted Yes in the referendum by 51%, with the Tories likely receiving under 10% of the vote here. Ayrshire Central has an electorate size of 68,352 – 24,384 of which (35.7%) is found in Prestwick and Troon. It is almost unquestionably going to vote SNP – there is a chance that Labour could cling on to the seat should Tories in Prestwick, Troon and Kyle vote tactically, yet I am doubtful that this will be enough.

    Notional results for the former Ayr constituency/Ayr Scottish parliament constituency (which includes Prestwick and Troon) can be found here: http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/2015guide/ayrcarrickandcumnock/

    Notionally, Ayr (Scottish parliament) voted no by around 61.35%.

  9. Based on my own estiamtes this constituency voted

  10. Based on my own estimates* this constituency voted No at roughly 54%, with a Yes vote in the North Ayrshire side of the constituency (including part of Kilwinning – these figures have been announced publicly, I would suspect a Yes vote of 51-52% in the east bank of Kilwinning), a No vote along Prestwick (64%), Troon (65%) and Kyle (57%) and a Yes vote in Ayr North (54%).

  11. Labour Hold.

  12. The defeated MP tells the local paper: ““I’m of an age where I can now turn round with the greatest delight and tell people to ‘f*** off’ which I haven’t been able to do for a hell of a long time in both my trade union life and also in this one.

    “You have to take all sorts coming through the door and be kind, considerate and generous with your time and sometimes you wonder why.

    “But at the end of it you’re there and I’ve always made the pledge as an MP that I wasn’t just there to represent the people who voted for me, I was there to help.”

    Now he will devote for time to gardening.

  13. The Tory vote in Central Ayrshire is mostly concentrated around the suburbs of Prestwick and Troon. Troon is slightly better for the Conservatives but the two are much the same.

    There is also a relatively strong Tory vote around Loans, Dundonald and Symington in the north of Kyle.

  14. Scotland’s new towns seem to be the strongest SNP areas.

    The Yes campaign polled ahead in places such as Irvine, Cumbernauld and Glenrothes in the 2014 indepedence referendum, missing out in East Kilbride and Livingston.

    In spite of the marginal results at the referendum the SNP managed to deliver a set of substantial swings in said new towns at the 2015 UK General Election, even in places where BetterTogether won with relative comfort (such as East Kilbride) as well as areas which voted Yes.

  15. By-election due in Irvine West for 11 August 2016.

    It should be an easy victory for Robin Sturgeon (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon’s father. The 2014 independence referendum results were published by electoral ward in North Ayrshire, with 6,543 Yes votes (50.56%) to 6,397 No votes (49.44%) in the Irvine West electoral ward. Cunninghame South went slightly over the referendum Yes result in 2016, so I imagine Robin will win on the first round.

  16. Unbelievable by-election result in Irvine West:


    First Preference Vote:

    Scottish National – 37.5%
    Labour – 33.1%
    Conservative – 20.6%
    Socialist – 4.2%
    Green – 3.0%
    Liberal Democrat – 1.5%

    Labour won on the sixth count. Fantastic result for them. Irvine West voted in favour of independence in 2014 at 50.6% Yes 49.4% No

  17. The SNP candidate was Nicola Sturgeon’s dad.

  18. The Irvine West result is the one that seems to be anomalous. It’s an area I know relatively well, and while there are some middle-class enclaves, it’s definitely the sort of area you’d now expect the SNP to be clearly ahead in. If you had said the result would be similar to the Renfrewshire one, I wouldn’t have been particularly surprised.

    The result also doesn’t fit well with the Cunninghame South result which had the SNP 22% ahead of Labour in May. I’d say that Irvine West would have a result relatively similar to the overall constituency result normally – maybe a couple of points better for Labour, but you’d anticipate the SNP being about twenty points ahead in May. I don’t know if there were local factors involved at all – whether the SNP council administration is seen as doing a bad job, or whatever – or if it’s just the usual trend of Government supporters caring less about by-elections than opposition supporters starting to reassert itself. The SNP didn’t generally have a great record in local by-elections pre-referendum.

  19. “I don’t know if there were local factors involved at all – whether the SNP council administration is seen as doing a bad job, or whatever – or if it’s just the usual trend of Government supporters caring less about by-elections than opposition supporters starting to reassert itself.”

    I’m pretty familiar with the area and I would be more inclined towards the latter point.

  20. I’m curious why the result here was different from the result in Renfrewshire, but I don’t know the ward there at all.

  21. “I’m curious why the result here was different from the result in Renfrewshire, but I don’t know the ward there at all.”

    My notional for Renfrew South & Gallowhill was 57% Yes. Irvine West was 50.6% Yes. That’s a difference of 6-7%. The remainder of the gap can be explained by the EU referendum result I believe.

  22. The results are both comparably poor for the SNP, although Irvine West is particularly embarrassing.

  23. Labour is now the largest political party in North Ayrshire council.

  24. “Maybe some personal voting against Sturgeon’s dad?” No. Nicola Sturgeon is popular – the opinion polls agree – if anything her dad’s candidacy might have benefited the SNP in Irvine.

  25. The change in Irvine West was:

    Scottish National +0.69
    Labour -7.09
    Conservative +8.62
    Socialist Labour +2.64
    Liberal Democrat -3.25

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that’s a swing of 3.89% from LAB to SNP and a swing of 7.855% from LAB to CON.

  26. The change in Renfrew South and Gallowhill was:

    Scottish National +4.47
    Labour -11.21
    Conservative +8.84
    Liberal Democrat +0.04


    7.84% from LAB to SNP
    10.025% from LAB to CON

  27. “Consistent with some of the Lab-Con swings in May”

    Which, as I stated earlier, is why this result is so significant 🙂

  28. Both of the results actually exceed the swings in their respective Scottish Parliamentary constituency seats btw, so I believe the Tories could actually improve on 2016 at the 2017 locals.

  29. “Indeed, but when you look closer at the figures it’s not that bad a result for the SNP”

    In respect to the current political context I completely disagree with this.

    “Were the other results showing similar swings?”

    Which other results?

  30. “The SNP is up on 2012 which is pretty good for them considering they’ve been in government for nearly 10 years”

    The SNP gravy train (of votes) just keeps on rolling. The politics of Scotland have changed – and in this new political dynamic I see the result as a positive one for the unionists and a negative one for the SNP.

  31. They have lost regional list seats, in 2016 they had a net loss…

  32. Also they’ve never held Dumfriesshire. Dumfriesshire was Labour before being gained by the Conservatives in 2016.

    They lost a by-election in Dunfermline to Labour in 2014 I believe.

  33. And there’s also Glasgow East which they lost in 2010.

  34. Both the local election results showed increased % support for the SNP, so unionists should not become too excited.

    However, I understand that there is going to be a debate at Holyrood proposing that STV replace the current voting system for Holyrood.

    I don’t imagine that the SNP will be daft enough to agree to this, as the Irvine result is further evidence of an increasing proportion of Labour and Tory voters being willing to allow their unionism to trump other considerations. The STV system is a better one for helping this to be fulfilled.

    No doubt unionists will squeak about SNP advantaging themselves but given the following facts I think they are being obviously hypocritical as:

    it was unionists who established the existing system to block the SNP
    it is unionists who continue to support FPTP for Westminster

  35. There’s not really a lot of evidence that Labour voters will give their second preferences to the Tories. If I remember correctly, the SNP won Ayr East on the back of Labour preferences, despite the Tories being ahead on the first count.

  36. “If I remember correctly, the SNP won Ayr East on the back of Labour preferences, despite the Tories being ahead on the first count.”

    Not really-

    151 transferred to the Conservatives
    175 transferred to the SNP
    382 didn’t transfer.

    The SNP won by 35 votes, the difference between the two transfers was 24, so even if 175 transferred to the Tories the SNP would have still won the by-election.

  37. The Tory vote in Irvine West was quite large, over 600.

    While the redistribution of the votes from the smaller parties made little difference and the SNP held their lead the redistribution of the transferable Tory vote (approx 80% Lab) allowed Labour to win. Over 400 of the 600+ Tory vote was non transferable.

  38. Labour took 72.5% of the transferred Socialist Labour vote and 42.5% of the transferred Liberal Democrat vote. The Conservatives took 27.5% of the transferred Liberal Democrat vote.

  39. @NTYUK Fair enough, although the fundamental point is still valid, I think. There’s no evidence that Labour transfers go more to the Tories than the SNP, which was always a significant problem with the unionist tactical voting theory.

  40. “@NTYUK Fair enough, although the fundamental point is still valid, I think. There’s no evidence that Labour transfers go more to the Tories than the SNP, which was always a significant problem with the unionist tactical voting theory.”

    Yes, it is more applicable for Conservative votes being transferred over to Labour.

  41. Could the Isle of Arran be moving to South Ayrshire soon?


    The motion of moving the ferry service to Troon is supported by Ayr MSP John Scott, former Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock MP Sandra Osborne and Central Ayrshire MP Philippa Whitford, but is opposed by Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock MP Corri Wilson…

  42. There are actually some pretty compelling arguments in favour of the move:
    * Troon has a larger population than Ardrossan at 15,000 inhabitants and is a more popular tourist destination, which could promote greater tourism in Arran.
    * Troon has a larger and more sheltered harbour which could allow for larger/quicker ships and safer anchorage.
    * Ardrossan’s port is often plagued with weather cancellations and would require a significant cash injection to be fixed: services to Troon would be far more reliable.
    * Troon has better road links and faster, more frequent rail services to Glasgow. The town is also closer to the port of Cairnryan (where there are frequent ferry services to Northern Ireland provided by Stena Line and P&O) and there is a train service to Stranraer from Troon.
    * There’s also a bribe to install a tourist point “showcasing all Arran has to offer” in Troon should the bid be successful.
    * The move would provide a boost to the Troon economy.

    The case for Ardrossan:
    * Journey times to Glasgow are around 5 minutes quicker from Ardrossan.
    * The crossing would be more expensive for Arran residents (?)
    * The crossing between Arran and Ardrossan represents a historic link between the communities of Arran and North Ayrshire which has been in place for some 180 years. If moved to Troon it is likely that Arran would be joined up with the South Ayrshire Council area which could have significant ramifications for Arran residents.
    * Ardrossan and its surrounding communities are highly deprived, and the crossing forms a significant part of the local economy. There would most likely be job loses in the area were the crossing to be moved to Troon.

    The political ramifications would almost certainly benefit the Conservatives by making the chances of an “Ayr and Arran” constituency in both Scottish and British Parliaments far more likely. Arran is good territory for the Conservatives, and an Ayr and Arran constituency would represent much stronger boundaries for the party in comparison to the proposed Ayr and Carrick constituency.

    In the Scottish Parliament the most likely change would be the addition of Arran into the existing Ayr constituency. In the British Parliament it’s possible to join up Ayr, Prestwick, Troon, Kyle and Arran to create a very strong constituency for the Conservatives.

  43. Sorry I should fix that: journeys from Arran to Glasgow would be 5 minutes quicker through the Ardrossan route, the crossing would be quicker but the road journey is longer than from Troon.

  44. If the proposal does go ahead it could have significant ramifications for future political boundaries of south-west Scotland at Westminster.

    On 600 constituencies across the UK this would most likely result in the following constituency arrangement in the south-west:
    * Ayr and Arran (vast improvement for the Conservatives compared with the proposed Ayr and Carrick seat)
    * Carrick and Galloway (vast improvement for the Conservatives compared with the proposed Dumfries and Galloway seat)
    * Cunninghame (safe SNP)
    * Clydesdale and Dumfries (notably poorer boundaries for the Conservatives in comparison to the proposed Clydesdale and Eskdale constituency)
    * East Ayrshire (safe SNP)
    * Eastwood and Annick (slightly worse for the Conservatives compared to the proposed Cunninghame East seat)
    * Inverclyde and Largs (safe SNP)
    * Paisley (safe SNP)
    * West Renfrewshire (safe SNP)

    Based on 2016 Carrick and Galloway would have a very good chance of going Conservative, Ayr and Arran a reasonable one.

  45. A quick notional would put Ayr and Arran in the blue camp at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election at 42% Conservative 42% SNP.

  46. Yes there would be a clear Conservative lead in such a constituency of 0.5% from 2016.

  47. Perhaps 3 Conservative councillors – 1 SNP councillor is possible in Troon and Prestwick now: though the Conservatives will not be standing 3 candidates in both wards.

  48. The Arran ferry move is unlikely to happen. Humza Yousaf: “”At this stage, the report supports the view that the mainland port for the ferry serving Brodick and Campbeltown should remain at Ardrossan.”


  49. Here is my complete Scottish independence referendum 2014 notionals for 1999 wards in Ayrshire.

    North Kilmarnock, Fenwick and Waterside – 71% NO
    Grange/Howard – 68% NO
    Stewarton East and Dunlop – 68% NO
    Mauchline – 65% NO
    Cumnock West – 61% NO
    Kilmaurs and Stewarton South – 59% NO
    Ochiltree, Skares, Netherthird and Craigens – 58% NO
    Darvel – 55% NO
    Galston East – 55% NO
    Kilmarnock Central South – 55% NO
    New Cumnock – 55% NO
    Catrine, Sorn and Mauchline East – 54% NO
    Drongan, Stair and Rankinston – 54% NO
    Kilmarnock Central East – 54% NO
    Altonhill, Hillhead and Longpark – 53% NO
    Crosshouse, Gatehead and Knockentiber – 53% NO
    Stewarton Central – 53% NO
    Patna and Dalrymple – 51% NO
    Auchinleck – 50% YES
    Cumnock East – 50% YES
    Muirkirk, Lugar, Logan – 50% YES
    North New Farm Loch and Dean – 51% YES
    Crookedholm, Moscow, Galston West and Hurlford North – 52% YES
    Dalmellington – 53% YES
    Newmilns – 53% YES
    South New Farm Loch – 53% YES
    Bellfield – 55% YES
    Riccarton – 55% YES
    Hurlford – 56% YES
    Kilmarnock Central West – 56% YES
    Onthank – 64% YES
    Shortlees – 64% YES

    Largs North and Skelmorlie – 68% NO
    Kilwinning West – 68% NO
    Largs South and Fairlie – 65% NO
    Garnock East – 64% NO
    Arran – 63% NO
    West Kilbride – 62% NO
    Irvine Townhead – 59% NO
    Largs East – 57% NO
    Eglinton and Lawthorn – 52% NO
    Saltcoats North – 52% NO
    Beith – 51% NO
    Dalry – 50% NO
    Dreghorn – 50% NO
    Kilbirnie North – 51% YES
    Woodlands North and Girdle Toll – 51% YES
    Irvine West – 52% YES
    South Beach – 52% YES
    Irvine Landward – 53% YES
    Kilwinning East – 53% YES
    Irvine North – 54% YES
    Largs West and Cumbrae – 54% YES
    Ardrossan North – 56% YES
    Bourtreehill – 56% YES
    Kilbirnie South – 56% YES
    Stevenston South – 56% YES
    Irvine Vineburgh and Woodlands South – 57% YES
    Kilwinning South – 57% YES
    Stevenston North – 58% YES
    Saltcoats East – 58% YES
    Ardrossan South – 61% YES

    Ayr Doonfoot and Seafield – 80% NO
    Ayr Fort – 77% NO
    Ayr Rozelle – 77% NO
    Troon South – 76% NO
    Ayr Old Belmont – 75% NO
    Prestwick St Ninian’s – 73% NO
    Ayr Masonhill – 70% NO
    Prestwick Kingscase – 69% NO
    Prestwick St Cuthbert’s and Monkton – 68% NO
    Troon East – 68% NO
    Troon North – 68% NO
    Coylton and Minishant – 61% NO
    Dundonald and Loans – 60% NO
    Girvan Ailsa – 60% NO
    South Carrick – 55% NO
    Prestwick St Nicholas – 54% NO
    Ayr Newton – 53% NO
    North Carrick and Maybole West – 52% NO
    Tarbolton Symington Craigie – 52% NO
    Ayr Central – 50% NO
    Ayr Forehill – 50% NO
    Prestwick Toll – 52% YES
    Troon West – 52% YES
    North Carrick and Maybole East – 53% YES
    Annbank Mossblown St Quivox – 54% YES
    Ayr Craigie – 55% YES
    Ayr Belmont – 56% YES
    Ayr Lochside – 58% YES
    Ayr Whitletts – 63% YES
    Girvan Glendoune – 63% YES

    For more breakdowns from the 2014 independence referendum check out my thread on the Vote UK site (here: http://vote-2012.proboards.com/thread/9192/scottish-independence-referendum-2014-results ) which includes maps and spreadsheets of the results broken down by 2007 electoral ward, 2011 Scottish Parliament constituency and 2005 UK Parliament constituency.

    Based on these figures I believe that the vote went as follows in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election:
    AYR (11 out of 20)
    Ayr Doonfoot and Seafield
    Ayr Fort
    Ayr Masonhill
    Ayr Old Belmont
    Ayr Rozelle
    Prestwick Kingscase
    Prestwick St Cuthbert’s and Monkton
    Prestwick St Ninian’s
    Troon East
    Troon North
    Troon South

    Coylton and Minishant
    Dundonald and Loans
    Girvan Ailsa

    CUNNINGHAME NORTH (4 out of 16)
    Garnock East
    Largs North and Skelmorlie
    Largs South and Fairlie

    North Kilmarnock, Fenwick and Waterside
    Stewarton East and Dunlop

    Cumnock East
    Ochiltree, Skares, Netherthird and Craigens

    CUNNINGHAME SOUTH (1 out of 14)
    Kilwinning West

    All other wards voted SNP.

  50. I believe that Cumnock West* went Labour not Cumnock East!

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