Dumfries & Galloway

2015 Result:
Conservative: 16926 (29.9%)
Labour: 13982 (24.7%)
Lib Dem: 953 (1.7%)
SNP: 23440 (41.4%)
UKIP: 1301 (2.3%)
MAJORITY: 6514 (11.5%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, South of Scotland. Part of the Dumfries and Galloway council area.

Main population centres: Dumfries, Stranraer, Kirkcudbright, Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie, Wigtown, Newton Stewart.

Profile: A large rural seat that covers the south-eastern part of Scotland, primarily covering the old historic counties of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire, as well as the majority of the town of Dumfries. Most of the seat is mountains and farmland, with small market and tourist towns dotted amongst the lochs and along the coast. Dumfries is by far the largest settlement, known as the "Queen of the South" and an administrative and economic centre for southern Scotland, followed by the ferry port of Stranraer at the western end of the seat.

Politics: Dumfries and Galloway was created in 2005 and won by the Labour party, who retained it in 2010 before losing to the SNP in 2015. The predecessor to the seat had been Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, historically a Conservative seat and won back by the Conservative at the 2001 election, perhaps helped by the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in the seat. Despite notional figures that in hindsight look rather questionable the addition of the town of Dumfries under the new boundaries in 2005 probably helped Labour take the seat.

Current MP
RICHARD ARKLESS (SNP) Born 1975, Stranraer. Educated at Glasgow Caledonian University. Former solicitor. First elected as MP for Dumfries & Galloway in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 16501 (32%)
Lab: 23950 (46%)
LDem: 4608 (9%)
SNP: 6419 (12%)
Oth: 695 (1%)
MAJ: 7449 (14%)
Con: 18002 (35%)
Lab: 20924 (41%)
LDem: 4259 (8%)
SNP: 6182 (12%)
Oth: 1524 (3%)
MAJ: 2922 (6%)
Con: 12222 (34%)
Lab: 7258 (20%)
LDem: 3698 (10%)
SNP: 12148 (34%)
Oth: 588 (2%)
MAJ: 74 (0%)
Con: 12825 (31%)
Lab: 6861 (16%)
LDem: 2700 (6%)
SNP: 18449 (44%)
Oth: 1183 (3%)
MAJ: 5624 (13%)

2015 Candidates
FINLAY CARSON (Conservative) IT consultant and former farmer.
RUSSELL BROWN (Labour) Born 1951, Annan. Educated at Annan Academy. ICI worker. Former Dumfries and Galloway councillor. Annandale and Eskdale councillor 1988-1996.MP for Dumfries 1997 to 2015. PPS to Lord Williams 2002-2003, PPS to Baroness Amos 2003-2005, PPS to Alistair Darling 2005-2007, PPS to Jim Murphy 2007-2010.
ANDREW METCALF (Liberal Democrat)
RICHARD ARKLESS (SNP) Born 1975, Stranraer. Educated at Glasgow Caledonian University. Solicitor.
Comments - 228 Responses on “Dumfries & Galloway”
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  1. This is Russell Brown’s seat for as long as he wants it. I don’t think there’s anything the other parties can do to dislodge him.

  2. It just struck me while watching Part 22 of Andy Stidwill’s upload of the BBC 2001 Election coverage that the Conservative gain in Galloway and Upper Nithsdale must have largely been down to Alisdair Morgan standing down at Westminster to concentrate on Holyrood. I know the SNP did not have a great night that year but all the same their fall in vote share in this old seat was still striking all the same.

  3. Wasn’t that the ‘foot and mouth seat’ gain?

  4. It might have been yes, but what I found interesting was that Andrew Marr I think it was remarked on how Labour had not been hit by Foot And Mouth there- Indeed they increased along with the Lib Dems and Conservatives. But I would have to say that seeing as at that time Labour were not in the picture there in Galloway the nearest thing to them (SNP) were the ones who got hit badly by it- Although given what Marr also said about most of the SNP’s ‘prime movers’ I think it was he said going to Holyrood instead of staying put at Westminster that this may have had an impact on the SNP’s poor showing that night- I.e. in the seats they held already new candidates were brought in for the most part (With the exception of a couple). It was according to Marr because of the effect of having supposed ‘second-raters’ in place of the big names that the SNP fell away in 2001.

  5. Much was made of the loss of the incumbancy of the SNP MP when he stood down to continue as the SNP MSP for Galloway & Upper Nithsdale….but he went on to also lose as MSP here in 2003.

    Despite swings to the SNP in Scotland 2007 and 2011the Tories held on here. The 2011 boundary changes removed Upper Nithsdale and replaced it with West Dumfries and were not helpful to the Tories but they still hung on.

    I think this part of Scotland was moving away from the SNP…..and now seems secure for Labour at Westminster and the Tories in Holyrood.

  6. The Results: the SNP were criticised for putting up what were dubbed as second-rate candidates in 2001 after their most well-known candidates crossed over to the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

    However Galloway ended up being a Tory seat in the Scottish Parliament as well, so maybe it wasn’t such a big factor.

  7. A closer look at the result here in October 1974-
    Thompson (SNP)- 12, 242 (40.30%, +9.64%)
    Ross (Conservative)- 12, 212 (40.20%, -3.66%)
    Hannay (Liberal)- 3, 181 (10.47%, -4.82%)
    Fulton (Labour)- 2, 742 (9.03%, -1.15%)

    Majority- 30 (0.10%)
    Swing- +6.65% From Con to SNP.

  8. Ian Lang did very well to hold onto Galloway and Upper Nithsdale in 1992 I think.

    Having said that, next door Dumfries had seen the SNP make hardly any progress even though they weren’t in the reckoning, but all the same their vote in Galloway wasn’t bad against a small recovery in Ian Lang’s vote.

  9. 2015

    Labour: 20500
    Conservative: 17500
    SNP: 9500
    Lib Dem: 3000
    UKIP: 1000
    MAJORITY: 3000

  10. I would expect the Lab. majority to increase rather than decrease surely?

  11. This might be closer than many think – I’m not entirely convinced it is out of play for the Tories, although I expect Labour to hold, albeit with a much reduced majority.

  12. Because of a swing from Lab to SNP?

  13. Given the high swing from Labour to SNP, this seat must surely be under threat for Labour. They won with only 45% of the vote so it is not as safe as those in the Glasgow area. The question is whether the Conservative vote will hold up enough to make this a three way seat again.

    It must be areas like this where Labour can lose, rather than the seats where thy have traditionally polled 60%+ .

  14. As far as I can see, this is the only seat where the Labour argument of “Vote SNP, Get Tory” could be deemed valid, given that it’s the only seat where the difference between the SNP (3rd/4th) and Tories (2nd) is greater than the difference between Tories (2nd) and Labour (1st).

    I discount Dumfriesshire in that, because it’s doubtful whether Labour have the potential electorate to win the seat.

    It will be interesting to see how far the Labour vote falls, and to see if Ukip contest the seat, which could take down the Tory vote. Howveer, it should be said that the Tories hold the equivalent seat in Holyrood with (relative) comfort.

  15. My understanding for a while has been that UKIP are going to stand 650 candidates (including NI and the speaker’s seat). Which means that I suspect all three of the parties with a recent record of winning the seat will be at it with “vote X, get Y”.

    I’ll get back to vote X get Y in a minute. But psephologically speaking, what you describe Piemonteis is a good example of why swing is a terrible concept when discussing the outcome of a seat in which the incumbent party hemorrhages support to a party which will still end up either second or third (the SNP are on the rise here like everywhere else, but even if the GE result saw the SNP well above 40% I don’t think any nationalist seriously believes that they would win this seat).

    A Labour collapse to the SNP could feasibly result in a Tory gain here, but to describe that gain as a “massive swing to the Tories”, while factually accurate, would be one heck of a distortion. Very few of those Labour voters would actively be switching to the Tories, which is what the concept of swing implies.

    The same would be true if the Tory claim of “vote UKIP, get Miliband” turns out to be factually accurate in individual southern constituencies. Let’s say in a specific seat Labour’s share went up 1 point, the Tories were down 15 and UKIP were up 21 having narrowly lost their deposit in 2010, the final result being a Labour gain from Con (Lib Dem and BNP collapses accounting for the missing 7%). It would be factually accurate to describe that as an 8% swing from Con to Lab, and fair comment to say that an 8% swing is huge, but in a constituency where more than two parties influence the final result it’s a decidedly unhelpful concept.

  16. @ Chris Hornet

    In essence this is what happened at the 2005 election. The Conservative vote remained static or in many places went down. But a large chunk of Labour voters switched to the Liberals. This was reported as a swing to the Conservatives (who did indeed gain many seats) although it was in fact a swing from Labour to Liberal.

  17. What’s interesting is that since 2011 the Holyrood constituency now has very similar boundaries to the Westminster constituency as Upper Nithsdale (Northern Dumfrieshire) was replaced with West Dumfries, meaning that the boundaries are now identical except for East Dumfries.

    The Conservatives won in 2011 and Labour came third behind the SNP while the year before Labour won by nearly 10000 and the SNP got next to nothing.

    Its fair to say that the Conservative vote is fairly consistent between Westminster and Holyrood while there does appear to be a large number of Red Nat (normally Lab for Westminster and SNP for Holyrood) who may vote SNP in May.

  18. That seems to be where the big difference lies between the Westminster and Holyrood constituencies. The two areas that constitute part of the WM Dumfries & Galloway seat but not the HR Galloway & West Dumfries are: East Dumfries (part of the Lochar and Nith wards); and Mid Nithsdale (of the Mid & Upper Nithsdale ward), all three of which wards have a +40% Labour vote at council level, and an SNP vote of between 18% and 28%, which (based on past voting of acquaintances in the region) has tended to go Labour for tactical reasons, although this tactical intention seems to have waned over the last two years.

  19. I think the tories could possibly squeeze through the middle here, unlikely but possible. Wouln’t rule a tory gain out

  20. The only way the Tories could sneak a win here would be if the Lab-Nat swing in May is very large, and is evident in these parts (will probably be fairly large in general, but small in this seat). As well as that, the Tories would need to surreptitiously target this seat, and they won’t (surely they won’t).

    Discounting DCT which the Tories already hold, I make this about the 8th most likely Scottish seat to fall to the Tories – I seriously doubt they will target more than 3, if they do they are foolish. That being said, what the Scottish Tories really should do is have private polling conducted of the 15 Scottish seats (including DCT) where they have a sniff of a chance of possibly being competitive at some point in the next 20-25 years. That will give them a good guide as to what their best prospects are and which 3 seats to target.

    For anyone who is wondering, these 15 seats, in order, are:

    1. Dumfriesshire Clydesdale & Tweeddale
    2. West Aberdeenshire & Kinkardine
    3. Berwickshire Roxburgh & Selkirk
    4. Edinburgh West
    5. Argyle & Bute
    6. Edinburgh South West
    7. Perth & North Perthshire
    8. Angus
    9. Dumfries & Galloway
    10. East Renfrewshire
    11. Edinburgh South
    12. Moray
    13. Stirling
    14. Banff & Buchan
    15. Ayr Carrick & Cumnock

  21. NEIL

    I think we can quite safely discard a number of the seats you mentioned due to their characteristics among which:

    Banff & Buchan

    All of which will need swings from the SNP to Con of between 4-6%. With the SNP nationwide vote share bound to be higher than 2010, I can’t see where this will come from. In 2011 the Lib Dem vote transferred directly to the SNP, and there’s no reason to suggest this would not go Conservative. Furthermore, in the 2012 local elections, the SNP won every single ward of the three constituencies mentioned (except Elgin South, which went Labour by a whisker). Some of the Labour vote might go anti-NAT, but not enough for the swing needed. Furthermore, Ukip will surely stand in these seats.

    Edinburgh South West
    Edinburgh South

    These seats have a sizable Lib Dem vote, (18%, 14.5%, 34%) which is sure to be squeezed, or flee, next year. It’s terribly unlikely this will transfer to the Conservatives, and is instead likely to go SNP, Labour or Green.
    In South West, the SNP are likely to eat into the Lib Dem vote and Tory votes, and I’m unsure there are enough Tories who voted Darling in the past to make up at least +10% they would realistically need.
    In Stirling, the SNP start just 6.5% behind the Tories, and it’s hard to see Anne McGuire’s personal vote going Tory, especially as any anti-NAT vote will stick with Labour.
    In Edinburgh South, the only hope is that the Green’s stand in the seat and take much of the Lib Dem vote. That way, if SNP, Labour, Lib Dem and Green’s all share the Centre-Left vote, the Conservatives could just about sneak in with it’s likely vote share of 20%-25%.

    Edinburgh West
    Argyll & Bute

    Both seats could end up close between all four parties, which also means no specific anti-Tory vote, but you’re really hoping that all three opponents get just under 25% to allow the Tories a chance.

    Other than those,
    Dumfriesshire should be a doddle, despite Ukip

    Berwickshire is likely to go Tory, as at least some of the Lib Dem vote will revert to SNP.

    Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock is likely to become a Labour/SNP battle, and the strong conservative area of Ayr is unlikely to outvote the more Labourite/SNP Carrick & Cumnock.

    East Renfrewshire will only go Tory if a huge amount of Labourites go SNP (unlikely due to demographics) or if Murphy stands down.

    Perth & Perthshire could go Tory if there is a coalescence around the Conservative candidate against Pete Wishart.

    West Aberdeenshire they have a good chance at, depending where Robert Smith’s personal vote goes. Could be tight between SNP and Conservative.

    And Dumfries & Galloway, see the post above. I think the Tories are in with a chance here.

  22. Given the relatively high ‘NO’ vote here in the referendum, I don’t think enough Lab voters will be switching to the SNP. I would be very surprised if Lab didn’t hold this.

  23. Piemonteis – much as I think it would be funny if the Tories outdid their 2010 gaffe (11 target seats) and targeted 15 Scottish seats, this is not what I am advocating here, nor am I suggesting it is plausible that the Conservatives will win these in 2015. As I made clear up thread, the Conservatives should target 3 of these, but try to gauge their support in these seats to develop a long term strategy of getting back up to a dozen or so seats in Scotland over the next 20 or so years.

  24. The 2001 notional result for this constituency was –

    Lab 32.4%
    Con 32.1%
    SNP 25.1%
    LD 8.9%

    The changes between 2001 and 2010 are –

    Lab + 13.5%
    Con – 0.5%
    SNP – 12.8%
    LD – 0.1%

    The result in the new 2011 Holyrood Galloway & West Dumfries Holyrood constituency that is far more similar to the Westminster constituency than the old Galloway & Upper Nithsdale was –

    Con 36.9%
    SNP 34.0%
    Lab 26.5%

    I think there will be a large movement back from Labour to SNP here.

    Labour: 19000
    SNP: 16000
    Conservative: 14000
    Lib Dem: 2000
    UKIP: 1500
    MAJORITY: 3000

    Even if the Tory vote increased from 16 to 18% in Scotland I could see it falling by around 2500 here due to the loss of Peter Duncan’s personal vote. He stood here in 2010 as that was Round 2 of Brown vs Duncan.

  25. I’d be very surprised if the SNP finished 2nd here!

  26. I can’t make up my mind on the SNP’s fortunes here.

  27. Doesn’t Robert Brown not have a big vote in his base of Dumfries?

  28. The Ashcroft poll of this seat is a disaster for Labour. Falling into third behind the Tories:

    SNP: 34% (+22%)
    Con: 30% (-2%)
    Lab: 28% (-18%)
    Lib: 2% (-7%)
    Other: 6% (+5%)

    This is clearly more of a three way marginal than most people thought. With the SNP currently having the upper hand.

  29. Tories value here at 9/2 on Betfair

  30. Depending on how the Lib Dem vote holds up in Edinburgh West and East Dunbartonshire, we could be left with two (unlikeliest of) three-way marginals in Scotland: Dumfries & Galloway, and Berwickshire.

  31. Bit of a shocker for Labour to be in third place.

  32. My understanding is that of every Scottish constituency other than 3 the SNP have been ahead on both the national and constituency vote.

    The only exceptions are East Renfrewshire (national 1% Lab lead/ constituency 3% Lab lead), Dumfresshire (national 1% SNP lead/ constituency SNP-Tory tie) and Glasgow North East (national 7% Lab lead/ constituency 7% Lab lead).

    I thought that Charles Kennedy would have turned a SNP national vote lead into a Lib Dem constituency vote lead but it does not appear to be the case.

  33. Of the seats that have not been polled, there are very few that would not be expected to show an SNP lead based on these previous Ashcroft polls.

    In addition to those three, perhaps:
    Orkney & Shetland,
    Rutherglen & Hamilton West
    Berwickshire, R & S
    East Lothian.
    Edinburgh South

    The last four of those are all big maybes. Indeed, based on the Glasgow polling, Rutherglen would probably go SNP. Based on Edinburgh SW, Edinburgh South would probably go SNP. And based on all previous polling looking at the Lib Dems and Tories in Scotland, Berwickshire would probably go SNP.

    East Lothian’s a funny one that I can’t seem to classify.

  34. I have been looking at the Ashcroft polls for English constituencies.

    Some show two polls around 6 months apart and the figures in each case are very consistent usually showing only very small changes.

    If there is little change in around 10 English constituencies with a second Ashcroft poll over 6 months what likelihood is there of major changes in Scottish voting intentions over the next 2 months between now and the 7th of May?

  35. Indeed, we also need to bear in mind that some of these polls could be outliers, and others could be at one end or another of margin of error.

    A question that addresses the point you make, Dalek, is what can affect the performance of parties in different constituencies? Over recent months, the polling in England has been reasonably stable with only slight fluctuations, and yet, as you point out, many of the oft-polled constituencies such as Thanet South and Sheffield Hallam have shown large-ish changes almost from one month to the next.

    I would be surprised if there were any big internal constituency shifts between now and the election, and any changes are likely to be the result of movements in national Scottish polling.

    However, might Ashcroft’s polling itself be a factor in shifting dynamics in individual constituencies (particularly in terms of tactical voting in Dumfriesshire, East Renfrewshire and Dumfries and Galloway)?

  36. The Ashcroft poll of what where generally YES areas one month ago may have caused a swing to the SNP surge in the polls of constituencies that generally voted NO this month.

    In the past Labour have been able to identify half a dozen seats where the SNP pose a threat (and these included longshots) and throw resources at them.

    Now there must be 41 Labour seats where the SNP pose a serious threat so how can Labour target now.

    Labour also can no longer target the seats in Scotland they need to win an overall majority (Argyll, Dundee East, Dumfriesshire, Edinburgh West and East Dunbartonshire).

  37. Can’t really see why Labour would be ahead in East Lothian, if the SNP are currently polling better than in 2011. It’s not a seat where they’d need to get to 45% or so to win.

    It strikes me as being most similar, in some ways, to seats like Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock and Central Ayrshire, in that it has a significant, but non-contending Tory vote, was somewhat indy-sceptical without getting to Borders or Orkney levels and is very socially mixed (although East Lothian is a bit more prosperous generally). It’s a bit more of a stretch for the SNP than the Ayrshire seats but I’d imagine it would likely play out similarly.

    Also Rutherglen looks, on the basis of Ashcroft polling, to be a decent shout for the SNP, given that Rutherglen itself was pretty much 50-50 in the referendum, and Hamilton was around 45% Yes, I think.

    I think Orkney & Shetland is probably the only seat I’d expect to see the SNP clearly behind, of the five you listed. The other two are likely multi-way messes, where 30-35% may well be enough to win.

  38. My prediction of the Tories squeaking through the middle and taking this seat may actually come true. They certainly are the value bet here and this is definitely winnable for them. It will be a 3 way marginal regardless of result.

  39. I think the SNP grossly under polled here in 2010 and Labour grossly over polled. I think Russell Brown took lots of first preference SNP votes who believed he stood the best chance of keeping Peter Duncan out…..hence the huge unwind of the Lab vote.

  40. I meant 2005 and 2010…….

  41. This seat has some very picturesque towns and villages. Doesn’t look like a typical Labour seat at all. Where do the Labour votes come from? Surely this is likely to be an SNP gain at the next General Election?

  42. I think many of the Labour votes come from the town of Dumfries. I think Stranraer is also quite good for Labour.

    The SNP might take the seat, but I think it’s more likely that Labour hold on, despite being in third place in the Ashcroft poll. It’s too unionist to be a great long term prospect for the SNP, who can probably only hold it these days against split opposition. Russell Brown is a pretty good constituency representative type of MP, and has achieved some very solid election results in the past.

  43. I think Labour were very strong in the Dumfries urban area but made advances in more urban parts of Galloway such as Stranraer. When elected in 2005, Brown set up a constituency office in Stranraer.

    The 2010 results here would suggest that Brown will have this seat until he choses to retire but the 2011 Holyrood results were encouraging for both the Tories and the SNP.

    I could see Brown holding on with a very small majority with the Tories and the SNP very close behind.

  44. Thanks Simon and Dalek. Travelled through this seat on my way for a holiday in Edinburgh about 10 years ago. Was shocked when I discovered this was a Labour seat.

  45. That would be quite something!

    I read in an article last year that the Conservatives were planning on “staying under the radar” in seats where they thought they could win in Scotland so as not to let opposition parties play the “The Tories will win here unless you vote X, Y or Z!!!” It will be interesting if they put that tactic to the test. Mind you they (and every other party for that matter) probably didn’t ever take into account the SNP surge in the polls. Having said that, look what happened with the “Cleggmania” polls on election night 5 years ago.

  46. A Conservative win in Dumfries and Galloway is by all means possible, but it is certainly one of the less likely possible Conservative seats.

    Realistically the Conservatives can only hope to win three seats in Scotland:
    1. Dumfries, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
    2. Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
    3. Dumfries and Galloway

    Although it is suggested that Renfrewshire East and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine could also go Conservative, as it stands Labour hold majority support in Renfrewshire East whilst the SNP are the most likely to win in West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.

    In terms of Dumfries and Galloway, a Conservative win may seem less likely than in Dumfries, Clydesdale and Tweeddale and in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk. The Tories did win notionally in the constituency in 2001 however, and in addition to this, Dumfries and Galloway voted strongly in favour of the Union during the referendum. Assuming that support for Labour declines to 30% – which is well above current opinion poll averages – then it could be possible for a Conservative victory.

    Monthly opinion poll averages for Scotland following the referendum were as follows:
    September (part) – LAB 29% / SNP 38% / CON 17%
    October – LAB 27% / SNP 42% / CON 17%
    November – LAB 26% / SNP 41% / CON 17%
    December – LAB 27% / SNP 40% / CON 17%
    January – LAB 25% / SNP 42% / CON 17%
    February – LAB 25% / SNP 43% / CON 17%

    Applying monthly averages to electoral calculus would give the following outcomes in the constituency:
    September (part) – LAB HOLD
    October – CON GAIN
    November – CON GAIN
    December – CON GAIN
    January – CON GAIN
    February – SNP GAIN

    It is my belief however that due to a rise in political activism among supporters of Scottish independence following the referendum that opinion polls generally hold a slight bias towards the SNP at the expense of Labour/Conservatives and that the most accurate opinion poll results are immediately after the referendum. (This same bias existed prior to the independence referendum – with an increase in political activism from Yes voters in the run up to the vote manipulating opinion poll results to give the Yes vote a 1% lead, 6% off of the actual result).

    The Tories have consistently held polling averages of 17%, yet some 15 day averages show them polling at 18% (furthermore the removal of Lord Ashcroft polls have also shown 18% Con support). This appears to suggest an increase in vote for the Tories, who have traditionally polled below election results. Even the slightest increase of 1% for the Tories would hypothetically give them +2% of vote in constituencies such as Dumfries and Galloway, which is crucial for the party. In reality this would be higher – as underlying ‘support’ for the party is not evenly distributed, with 2001 being a prime example of this.

    It may be claimed that the Lord Ashcroft constituency poll of Dumfries and Galloway shows that the SNP are in the lead, however, Lord Ashcroft polls have been notably out-of-line with average monthly polling. Below is an example:

    Lord Ashcroft average from Jan 1 2015 to now:
    UKIP: 3%
    Conservative: 16%
    Liberal Democrat: 6%
    Labour: 24%
    SNP: 47%
    Greens: 4%

    All other polls average from Jan 1 2015 to now:
    UKIP: 4% (+1)
    Conservative: 17% (+1)
    Liberal Democrat: 6% (=)
    Labour: 26% (+2)
    SNP: 42% (-5)
    Greens: 3% (-1)

    Applying this NATIONAL difference to Dumfries and Galloway would result in the following result:
    Conservative 36%
    SNP 30%
    Labour 30%
    – CON gain from LAB / 6% lead over SNP

    This example applies the national opinion poll average to the constituency – however, 2001 – again – demonstrates that the constituency holds a higher than average number of voters willing to vote Conservative, this could ultimately influence the results. Also, the example assumes that the same bias exists in Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polling whilst in reality this may be more or less severe than his monthly averages.

  47. the remarkable thing is how well russell brown has done since 1997. l don’t know of anyone who thinks it’ll be anything but close. l should have thought that an snp win is likelier than a tory one but it clearly is a 3-way contest this year.

  48. Barnaby –

    It’s very hard to call, but the Tories have historically done well in the seat and by winning the seat post-1992 it’s clear that the seat remains to hold a high level of support for the party compared to other parts of Scotland. The comparable seat of Galloway and the Upper Nithsdale is currently held by the party in the Scottish parliament and did not fall in the 2011 SNP surge.

    Whilst I do believe a Conservative gain is most likely, given that the party holds a similar level of proportional support in the seat as they do in the Scottish parliament and due to the fact that they will no doubt concentrate the vast bulk of their resources on just three or four Scottish seats, an SNP gain is VERY possible, however, as the late 90’s have demonstrated, the SNP have only managed to win the seat in periods of large national swings from the Tories to Labour.

    The referendum is also an important factor to be considered: the Dumfries and Galloway council area rejected independence by 65.7%. Should the Greens decide to stand in the constituency then this could have a significant impact on the results – despite their marginal support, by splitting the ‘Yes’/progressive vote enough for a Tory or Labour victory (and we are talking in the 1-2%’s here, yet this is the sort of margin to be expected in the seat which will ultimately decide it’s fate).

    Even looking at the constituency’s history, Labour has only been able to secure a majority in the area prior to it’s 1997 landslide – in just two elections. The seat has not traditionally been a secure Labour seat, which, in terms of this election is crucial for the party’s survival in Scotland.

    The notional figures for 2001 certainly look among the most likely result for the constituency, but it’s all dependent on how former Tory voters chose to cast their vote: the Tories received 1,500 more votes in 2005 compared to 2010 despite receiving a higher share of vote nationally in 2010 – if these votes ‘swing’ back to the Tories then it is very possible that they could win the seat.

    The SNP are, in fairness, in with a very good chance of gaining the seat – they have historically performed well in the seat, however, in recent years their % support has been pretty low! (In 2010 it was roughly 8% lower than the national average!)

    I would suspect Labour will do well along their “heartlands” within the seat in and around Dumfries, with the Tories doing better across the constituency as a whole. No doubt Stranraer will back the SNP – there’s a real chance the town voted marginally yes or no in the referendum – it’s probably more suited to the idiotic seat that is Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, which currently makes no sense on any level to exist as it is… (the grouping of Carrick and Cumnock with Ayr, and Irvine with Prestwick and Troon is on-the-nose gerrymandering).

  49. NTY UK:

    It is worth noting that Alex Fergusson is a very popular MSP for the Conservatives, and was a speaker well respected by all parties in the parliament. This is bound to be a large reason for him holding off the SNP surge in 2011 (as well as the fact that the SNP were already placed second, and therefore there was no unwinding of tactical voting that may have happened in other seats – in fact, this unwinding will be a factor in the seat this time round). Finlay Carson certainly has no such profile in Scottish politics, and I don’t know if he has any profile locally. I do know that the SNP candidate is local to the area and was prominent in the Business for Scotland group in the referendum, although this by no means suggests local celebrity status!

    Also, the fact that this seat takes in more of Dumfries town than Alex Fergusson’s seat may act to water down the Tory vote slightly, to the benefit of the SNP and Labour.

    I do, however, agree with what you seem to be intimating, that the Conservatives and the SNP are better placed based on current polling. If this filters in to local opinions, the SNP will stand to benefit based on Ashcroft polling (Labour voters definitely not voting for: SNP 61%; Con 82%).

  50. @ PIEMONTEIS –

    That’s a good point which I forgot to check, it’ll definitely be a hard one to call. If Labour can achieve above the 29% mark then they are in with a real chance of holding the seat

    It will really depend on tactical voting in the area, which will cause absolute chaos!!!

    As the Tories traditionally do well in the constituency it provides left wing parties a platform to encourage left-wingers to vote tactically for them vs the Tories – this might explain Labour’s relative success in the area in 2005 and 2010 at the expense of the SNP, yet as the results appear as if they’ll be so marginal it’s hard to imagine where these voters will flock – Labour will be propped up slightly by it’s incumbency with Yes Labour/SNP voters under the impression that a Labour hold will be most likely (as the area voted quite strongly against independence they could also feel that the battle will be Lab v Con), and no doubt some Tory voters will even vote tactically against their own party in thinking that a Tory victory is impossible in the area, and on the other hand I can see Labour voters – and perhaps even some Tories – voting SNP by thinking that they are more likely to win the constituency…

    Tactical voting is very hard to pin-point, but even a few percentage points can change the balance of power in the area…

    Whichever left-wing party can put across their anti-Tory message clearer will be at a greater advantage of winning the seat. But given that the SNP are at a greater position in the tactical vote than the Tories perhaps suggests that they could win the seat – but it’s difficult to know without making assumptions… I’ll DEFINITELY watch out for this seat careful come the election results.

    Also, the latest two Scottish polls show an SNP lead in South Scotland Scotland region, followed by the Tories who have now overtaken Labour.

    2010 results for South Scotland –

    LAB 43.29%
    CON 22.26%
    SNP 16.74%
    LD 16.06%
    OTH 1.65%

    Average of 2 opinion polls –

    SNP 33.45%
    CON 21.6%
    LAB 14.75%
    LD 5.10%
    OTH 7.8%

    Note that these don’t consider don’t knows/refuses so it doesn’t consider all votes. Below is the rounded figures of the same polls up to 100%.

    Rounded –

    SNP 40.45% (+23.71)
    CON 26.12% (+3.86)
    LAB 17.84% (-25.45)
    LD 6.17% (-9.89)
    OTH 9.43% (+7.78)

    If we applied this to the constituency, assuming that this change was universal (which it won’t be) for the South of Scotland region then the results would look SOMETHING like this (keep in mind the Greens/UKIP might or might not stand here, also I’m probably doing something wrong!) –

    CON 37.08
    SNP 29.72
    LAB 18.92
    LD 3.38

    [ CON GAIN – 7.36 lead over SNP ] / Marginal CON seat

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