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”
  1. I think the results here demonstrate that the Conservatives don’t have a prayer in Galloway & West Dumfries (especially with the retirement of outgoing MSP Alex Fergusson).

    The central boundary differences between the Scottish Parliament seat of Galloway & West Dumfries and this seat is the removal of east Dumfries, Locharbriggs and Cairn Valley. Generally speaking this area used to be Labour voting, so it will be interesting to see the impact this has on the Galloway & West Dumfries seat.

    While the Conservatives will probably increase their vote share at the Scottish Parliament I’m not sure that they will come close to holding the seat and pulling back 11% of the vote.

  2. PS. I have the Dumfries NW, Lochar and Nith wards as notional SNP gains in 2015 (as well as Stranraer & North Rhins, Abbey(?) and Wigtown West)

    Tories taking all Annandale wards, Mid & Upper Nithsdale, Castle Douglas & Glenkens and Dee.

    Under 1997 boundaries I have Dumfries going SNP and Galloway going either way!

  3. I have Dumfriesshire as a notional Conservative hold in 2015, with 4 wards going Conservative and 2 going SNP. Overall I’d say it’s around leaning/likely Conservative. That would leave Galloway & West Dumfries as a pretty safe SNP gain.

    At the moment I have 2 Labour constituencies (Edinburgh Southern and Eastwood), 2 Conservative constituencies (Ettrick and Dumfriesshire) and 1 Liberal Democrat constituency (Orkney) for 2016.

    On a bad night the Tories could lose out in Dumfriesshire and hold Ettrick, the safest unionist seat for 2016.

  4. I’ve decided after closer inspection to revise down my referendum estimate for the Galloway & West Dumfries Scottish Parliament constituency from 64% No to 62-63% No.

    The Yes vote was (like the Ayr constituency) roughly the same % vote share as the Conservative vote share in 2011… This makes this seat a less likely hold compared to Ayr.

    Likely SNP gain.

  5. Okay, so I’ve decided Ayr and Galloway&West Dumfries are VERY likely SNP gains.

    I think the best strategy for the Conservatives would be to focus on gaining the Dumfriesshire constituency and campaigning in areas covered by the two UK parliamentary seats on the Anglo-Scottish border.

    Labour’s only chances of constituency seat gains/holds are in Edinburgh Southern (which should be their top priority) and in Eastwood (which is a more likely SNP gain).

  6. 2015 Notionals-

    Conservative: 40%
    Scottish National: 36%
    Labour: 20%
    Others: 4%

    Scottish National: 41%
    Conservative: 32%
    Labour: 23%
    Other: 4%

  7. At the Scottish Parliament I have Ayr as the more favourable hold compared with the Galloway constituency.

    Realistically a Conservative hold here would require a relatively low turnout (below 60%) with the Conservative vote coming out in force.

  8. Dumfriesshire confuses me, because your numbers are not unreasonable based on May’s results, but Labour held the seat comfortably in 2011. I don’t see any real evidence of the Tories making much progress since then – Mundell’s vote share in DCT was only up marginally on 2010, and the Tories fell back slightly in Dumfries & Galloway.

    So the question is whether the Tories score will be more similar to 2011 or 2015. I guess the key is understanding why they had the relative underperformance in 2011 (or why Mundell appears able to outperform the Tories natural ceiling, if you think the Scottish Parliamentary results are more realistic).

  9. A collapse in the Labour vote can be attributed to a huge swing to the SNP in the constituency.

    Similar to Eastwood, this constituency had Labour in first with the Conservatives second in 2011. It notionally went 37% Conservative in 2007 – 2011 was a poor performance for the party.

    The reason why Labour did so poorly in 2015 is because much of the Labour vote has swung over to the SNP. The Conservative vote has stayed static here (rising in Annandale).

  10. I can’t see the Conservatives taking this. The SNP are just 3.4% behind based on the 2011 results, and given that the seat was widely regarded as a Labour/Conservative battle in 2011, some of the SNP’s national swing that was likely repressed last time round in the seat will probably unwind this year given the perceived invincibility of the party among members.

    The only way the Conservatives can keep ahead of the SNP in this situation is through the mass tactical voting of Labour voters, who have, however, historically had the Conservatives as their rival in the seat, which I see as unlikely.

    An SNP gain for me.

  11. I beg your pardon. I should specify that I was referring to Dumfriesshire in the above post.

  12. Yeah, I think we all assume there will be a significant shift from Labour to the SNP. The normal formula of the Yes vote plus a few per cent gives the SNP something in the 35-38% range. They might do a little better than that if the polls which show them generally exceeding 50% nationwide on the constituency vote are correct. The real question is why the Tories performed so poorly in 2011, given that it was the year after Mundell held the Westminster seat relatively comfortably, and whether this is likely to be repeated again next year. They can’t afford even a slight drop off from Mundell’s performance if they want to have a chance of taking the seat.

  13. The answer is Elaine Murray’s personal vote, plus the strong tactical voting campaign run by Labour in 2011 to keep the Tories out.

  14. People tactically voting Labour to defeat the Tories wouldn’t result in the Tory vote share falling though. Perhaps some people who would otherwise vote Tory like Elaine Murray as a person, although not that many in a Labour/Tory marginal imo.

  15. I suppose, more plausibly, there are likely some people who are fairly centrist in their views who vote for both Mundell and Murray.

  16. Dumfriesshire and Eastwood were former Labour marginals re-configured as Conservative marginals.

    I felt that in 2011 they acted differently to other Scottish constituencies. Even in Edinburgh Pentlands (which was now better for Labour due to boundary changes than the revised Eastwood), the second place Labour did not keep the SNP at bay by arguing to the left of centre part of the electorate that they, and only they,could keep the Tories out.

    The things that Dumfriesshire and Eastwood had in common is that they were notional Conservative marginals where the incumbent constituency Labour MSP had stayed put.

    Another thing that has to be considered is that 2007 was a good year for the Tories in the UK with a Labour government in its mid term were as this was not the case in 2011.

  17. Ayr, Galloway & Upper Nithsdale and Roxburgh & Berwickshire are the big areas in the Scottish Parliament where the Conservatives made % vote gains on their performance at the 1992 UK General Election.

  18. In 2007*

  19. Since 2000 until this year South Ayrshire has been unusually ‘over-represented’ within the Scottish Parliament Conservative group.

    John Scott, obviously, is the MSP for Ayr. He was born in Girvan and brought up in the adjacent fishing village (more of a hamlet really) of Ballantrae around the rural south of the council area. He is a passionate farmer who ironically held office as Conservative spokesperson for Rural Affairs from 2007 until 2011 despite representing a predominantly urban constituency.

    For much of his life Alex Fergusson was a farmer in the stunning South Ayrshire village of Barr, also to the south of the council area. While he was born in Dumfries & Galloway, educated at Eton and has lived in New Zealand for two years of his life Alex tended to his family’s farm in Barr (South Ayrshire) from the age of 22 up until his election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 (28 years later!) He now lives in Kirkcudbrightshire, in his constituency of Galloway & West Dumfries.

    Perhaps the most startling thing about this is that the two actually lived in the same ward for much of their lives – that being the Girvan & South Carrick ward to the south of the council area. The council is composed of 7 other electoral wards, with most of the area’s population (and indeed most of its actual Conservative vote) being contained around the urban element of the seat around Ayr, Prestwick and Troon – the area which has been represented for John Scott for 16 years.

  20. lol no.

  21. If the polls are right or nearly right then the Tories have no chance here, so have a look at them, they are suggesting around 51% SNP / 17% Conservative.

  22. I reckon this one will be very close. If the SNP are in the 40% region again then it would only take 3% or so of the 2011 LAB vote to go Tory for Finlay Carson to hold the seat. That’s surely not totally unrealistic.

  23. The Tories notionally had 39% in this seat in 2007. Nationally they should do a little better than then now so I think they have a chance.

  24. I feel that within the current context it is very unlikely. The Conservatives were well behind in Galloway & West Dumfries at last year’s UK General Election: applying the SNP’s vote from 2015 onto 2016 would make the constituency unwinnable for the Conservatives.

    Drawing parallels to 2007 and 2011 is not helpful due to turnout changes.

    I believe there’s a remote chance of a Conservative hold with a lower turnout (perhaps around 60%). I’m pretty confident that the constituency will still vote SNP, relatively comfortably, however.

  25. No, it’s really not.

    Dumfries and Galloway was a Conservative-Labour marginal in 2010: the Conservatives were up by 500 votes in 2015.

    The main areas were “tactical voting” is more traceable is in Ayr and Eastwood.

  26. The Conservatives had roughly as many votes in 2010 as they did in 2015, so “tactical voting” seems to have been limited to a few select cases.

    In South West the Conservatives were down by around 600 votes, so I’d imagine there was some tactical voting in the area, although probably not quite so much as Ayr or Eastwood.

  27. At a rough guess

    SNP 42%
    CON 36-7%

    SNP 36%
    CON 35%

  28. I’ll probably tune in to the first few declarations to get an idea of turnout, and I’ll be tuning into the local results with extra care.

  29. Probably what you’ve mentioned above, the first declaration (obviously), Dumfriesshire, Orkney, Shetland and Eastwood.

    Ayr might not be televised, I don’t believe it was in 2011, 2007, 2003 or 1999.

  30. Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire should be televised too.

  31. I expect the BBC Scotland programme will show most of the declarations (except overlapping, of course). They did at the GE. Not sure how many from Scotland and Wales the national programme will show? Does anyone remember (roughly) how many they did in 2011?

  32. I think it was in the region of a quarter to a third, but I can’t remember.

  33. IIRC Rutherglen was the first constituency to declare in 2011. Likely this year to be an SNP gain from Labour.

  34. Yes it was, I believe East Kilbride followed not long after, but I can’t really remember.

  35. Yes there was, but no it wasn’t. I don’t believe that the 2000 by-election was televised either. The 1992 UK general election result in Ayr was televised.

  36. I’m not sure whether or not Galloway will be televised over Ayr, although it would make sense if they have cameras at the Dumfries count centre.

    Yes, Ayr has been one exceptional place in terms of election results ever since 1992.

    In 1997 Ayr was one of the smallest Conservative-Labour swings in the country. In 1999 it was one of the few constituencies in the Scottish Parliament where the Conservatives were in contention (they lost out by just 25 votes, their best result of the night). In 2000 they won it in a by-election. In 2001 the UK seat of Ayr returned a fantastic result for the Tories (who came behind Labour by just 6.6%), since 2000 the Scottish seat has went Tory – defying national election results and trending towards the Tories right up until the referendum.

    I wish John Scott all the best [the man who I am voting for], although I understand the seat is pretty much destined to go SNP.

  37. Apparently they are going to have cameras at all of the count centres so I don’t believe their will be a specific pattern: generally speaking the first handful of seats to declare will receive the most attention. I’d imagine the first seat to declare will be a predominantly urban seat with a count centre.

  38. SNP Gain (Galloway & West Dumfries).

  39. Tories had written it off, now think they’ve held it

  40. Tories have held GWD

  41. What a historic night.

  42. I’ve had a quick look and I suspect that the following Westminster constituencies did not go SNP in 2016 –

    * Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
    * Dumfries and Galloway
    * Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
    * West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

    * Edinburgh South

    Liberal Democrat:
    * Edinburgh West
    * North East Fife
    * Orkney and Shetland

    I have West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine as an ultra-marginal Conservative constituency, Labour just missing out in East Lothian. I’d imagine that if East Dunbartonshire existed at Holyrood it would have been a Liberal Democrat gain (result of tactical voting).

  43. Not bad but definitely off.

    An educated guess based around my notionals:

    Conservative: 38%
    Scottish National: 37%
    Liberal Democrat: 17%
    Labour: 8%

    Aberdeenshire West is a better area for the Conservatives versus West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine: this should become more prominent as the Conservatives establish themselves as the dominant challenger to the SNP throughout Aberdeenshire.

  44. I have the No camp doing slightly better in Aberdeenshire West compared to West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine.

    My notionals suggest a 68% No vote in Aberdeenshire West (the second highest figure for any Scottish Parliament constituency), and 67% No in West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine.

  45. Very odd new boundaries Dumfries and Galloway, I’m not a fan.

  46. An academic survey suggests that REMAIN will win in all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities, ranging by a massive 47.5% lead in Edinburgh to a more modest 8.4% in Dumfries & Galloway.

    I would assume that Dumfries & Galloway could be won by LEAVE if they poll strongly on the day?

  47. On a conventional guess I would assume Angus, Moray, Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders will be among the better parts of Scotland for the Remain camp.

    The personal politics in Highland, Na h-Eileanan Iar, Orkney and Shetland could make the result difficult to call.

    Alternatively, the result could follow similar lines to the independence referendum, with a stronger Leave result in the central belt and Dundee.

  48. Better for the Leave camp sorry*

  49. “Alternatively, the result could follow similar lines to the independence referendum, with a stronger Leave result in the central belt and Dundee.”

    Well, conventional wisdom being that working class voters are both more pro-independence and more pro-Brexit, that makes sense. Recent polls show a surprisingly large % of the SNP vote plumping for Leave, presumably many are working class former Labour voters in the central belt. Or perhaps some tactical voters who want a short cut to independence.

  50. On the other hand some polls have shown better remain results from yes voters. Perhaps if you want Scotland to be independent you wouldn’t be so worried about the balance of power between London and Brussels?

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