Dunfermline & West Fife

2015 Result:
Conservative: 6623 (11.9%)
Labour: 17744 (31.7%)
Lib Dem: 2232 (4%)
SNP: 28096 (50.3%)
Green: 1195 (2.1%)
MAJORITY: 10352 (18.5%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife. Part of the Fife council area.

Main population centres: Dunfermline, Rosyth.

Profile: A Scottish seat facing Falkirk and Linlithgow across the Firth of Forth, the seat includes the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge, the tolls on which are an important local issue. This was once a mining area, an area of textile mills and of shipbuilding - all industries that have fallen away or continue to struggle. Flooding of Longannet mine, set up to supply the Longannet power station in the constituency, effectively ended deep mining in the area in 2002 and the power station now relies upon coal being imported into the area. The two large population centres are Dunfermline itself and the industrial port of Rosyth. Dunfermline is a historic town, a past capital of Scotland, with an Abbey containing the burial sites of past Scottish kings. Rosyth is the site of the now privatised Rosyth Dockard and is the assembly site for the two new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. To the west the seat is more rural, containing small coastal towns like Kincardine (the site of the Scottish police training college), and former mining villages like Valleyfield. Even the inland villages are normally reliably Labour - the Liberal Democrats and SNP`s strength normally comes from Dunfermline itself.

Politics: A constituency with a chequered political history. The seat and its predecessors traditionally returned Labour MPs (though Dunfermline West was briefly represented by the SNP after Dick Douglas defected in 1990), but following the death of Rachel Squire in 2006 the ensuing by-election was won by the Liberal Democrats, no doubt to the to the chagrin of the constituency`s most well-known resident, then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. It was regained by Labour at the following election, but gained by the SNP in 2015.

Current MP
DOUG CHAPMAN (SNP) Fife councillor. First elected as MP for Dunfermline & Fife West in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 3305 (7%)
Lab: 22639 (46%)
LDem: 17169 (35%)
SNP: 5201 (11%)
Oth: 633 (1%)
MAJ: 5470 (11%)
Con: 4376 (10%)
Lab: 20111 (47%)
LDem: 8549 (20%)
SNP: 8026 (19%)
Oth: 1332 (3%)
MAJ: 11562 (27%)
Con: 3166 (10%)
Lab: 16370 (53%)
LDem: 4832 (16%)
SNP: 5390 (17%)
Oth: 1217 (4%)
MAJ: 10980 (35%)
Con: 4606 (13%)
Lab: 19338 (53%)
LDem: 4963 (14%)
SNP: 6984 (19%)
Oth: 543 (1%)
MAJ: 12354 (34%)

2015 Candidates
JAMES REEKIE (Conservative) Educated at Edinburgh University. Customer Consultant.
THOMAS DOCHERTY (Labour) Born 1975. Public affairs officer for BNFL. Contested North Tayside 2001, South of Scotland 2003 Scottish Parliament elections. MP for Dunfermline and West Fife 2010 to 2015.
DOUG CHAPMAN (SNP) Fife councillor.
Comments - 81 Responses on “Dunfermline & Fife West”
  1. I note the seat profile does not include the interesting tidbit that West Fife was the seat held by the last Communist MP, Willie Gallacher…he held it from 1935 to 1950

  2. Has anyone got an predictions for this seat, with the shift to SNP in Scottish politics do they have any chance here? Prehaps aided by the collapse in the Lib Dem vote (if it does)

  3. YouGov nowcast has Labour most likely, but SNP a close second

  4. I’d predict an SNP gain. The Labour vote is not as monolithic as some other constituencies, and it’s likely that the referendum result was pretty close here. This isn’t the sort of seat that will retain a significant Lib Dem vote long term, and most of that vote will move to the SNP.

  5. Labour Hold

  6. SNP win/hold both by-elections in the seat. Labour were ahead on first preferences in 2012, but the by-elections were to replace SNP councillors. There was a swing from Labour to the SNP of just over 11% in Rosyth and just over 15% in Dunfermline North.

  7. Misery looks set to turn to agony next May on Holyrood. The SNP could do so well they win all the top up seats aswell.

  8. Can some anorak with time to spare tell use what percentage of the vote a party would need to take all the top up seats as well as the constituency ones. I suspect it would be in excess of 85%.

    The SNP did not get 85% f the vote in 2015 (for instance in this seat they got 50%), and I find it exceedingly unlikely they will get 85% for the 2016 Holyrood elections.

  9. Labour GAIN The Lochs.

  10. First Preference results:

    Labour – 1,318 [47.1%]
    Scottish National – 1,079 [38.6%]
    Conservative – 270 [9.6%]
    Communist – 86 [3.1%]
    Green – 45 [1.6%]

    Change from 2012:
    Labour +0.7
    Scottish National +19.6
    Conservative +6.9

  11. Again this result is consistent with what we’ve seen from the Irvine West and Renfrew South & Gallowhil by-elections: Labour doing surprisingly well, SNP down by over 10% from 2014, Conservatives performing well (in excess of 2016).

  12. Obviously, it’s a good result for Labour, and not a great one for the SNP, and I think we probably need to adjust our expectations for future by-elections. My own view is that the poorer results for the SNP are largely explained by the usual trend for incumbent governments to perform poorly at by-elections because their supporters don’t feel the need to go and vote. I think the SNP will do modestly better in 2017 than they have been in recent by-elections, because the turnout will be higher – 2012 was almost 40% whereas most of the by-elections are coming in at around 25%, but I’d still expect them to underperform relative to 2015/16 parliamentary election results.

    I do think it’s a more complex result than some of the others. Labour scored 66% to the SNP’s 24% in a by-election in this ward in May 2014, so there’s been about a 15% swing since then. That suggests to me that we should still see significant SNP gains from Labour in areas that are basically a two way fight. Also, Labour selected a pro-independence and very left wing candidate, who is probably a fairly good fit for the ward. Finally, I know it’s pretty terrible terrain for the Tories, but they’re up 5% since the 2014 by-election, which is, for me, in the good but not great category.

  13. It’s unclear just how well the Conservatives performed here relative to 2016: although the Conservative vote here did rise relative to 2012 it was below the rise in the Tory vote from 2011-2016 in the Scottish Parliamentary constituency of Cowdenbeath.

    I would argue that it was a decent result for the Conservatives as, in demographic terms atleast, The Lochs appears to have been more inclined towards the Yes campaign at the 2014 Independence referendum compared to the wider Cowdenbeath constituency. I would anticipate that the Conservative vote in Cowdenbeath increased more around the southern portion of the constituency – particularly in Inverkeithing & Dalgety Bay.

    Importantly this result appears to indicate that the SNP are making some more substantial gains in areas which went more towards the Yes campaign in 2014: there seems to be something of a correlation in all of these by-elections between the Yes vote in 2014 and the SNP vote. This could indicate that we will see the SNP make some significant gains in the “Labour heartlands” of 2012 (in areas such as Glasgow and North Lanarkshire) – though admittedly won’t be comparable to 2015/16. Does this mean that they could fall back in some of the more “No” inclined parts of the country? We’ll see…

    Since the 2016 Scottish Parliament election/EU referendum we’ve only had by-elections in “working class” wards which have traditionally been dominated by the Labour party – we don’t have a complete picture yet. It will be interesting to see how the vote carries over in some of the more affluent parts of the country, and in respectable suburbia where the vote to Remain within the EU was very high.

  14. “: there seems to be something of a correlation in all of these by-elections between the Yes vote in 2014 and the SNP vote”

    To clarify, this correlation seems to go hand-in-hand with the 2014 Yes vote and has no relation to the 2012 SNP vote share….

  15. Glasgow and Fife council considering trialling universal basic income

  16. Here’s the thing though – councils can only raise extra money through council tax – which is a flat tax. To raise a flat tax to confer a flat benefit seems to me to be a complete waste of time, since unless I’m missing something it will have precisely zero redistributive effect.

  17. Polltroll
    From what I’ve read apparently the idea isn’t that they pay for it with council tax rather they are used as special trial zones for an actual re-working of the benefits system which is how UBI would work in [practice. This is somewhat within the powers of the Scottish Gov in light of the last transfer of powers however the issue is not ALL benefits spending is under the Scottish Gov’s control and for this to work it needs to be so the UK gov would have to green light this too and collaborate with the trail which isn’t very likely as far as I can tell.

  18. Dunfermline and West Fife is actually quite an affluent middle class constituency.

    There is a mix of wealthy suburbs located throughout Dunfermline, particularly in the central and southern parts of the town, with a number of prosperous villages spread out across the rural west of the seat as well (places like Crossford, Cairneyhill, Carnock and Saline). Added to this there is some deprivation in the council estates of Dunfermline and in the villages of Oakley and High Valleyfield, with some more middling towns like Kincardine, Rosyth and Inverkeithing sprinkled along the coast of the Firth of Forth.

    What’s interesting about Dunfermline is that it had a very strong Liberal Democrat vote in the 2000’s, electing current Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie for its MP in the 2006 by-election and returning a Lib Dem MSP at the 2007 Holyrood election. At the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 my notionals suggest that the constituency had a reasonably strong No vote of 58%.

    At the 2016 Scottish Parliament election Dunfermline was among the only middle class/No-inclined constituencies to have the Conservatives trailing behind Labour on the Regional List vote (Labour taking 24% of the regional list vote in the constituency to the Conservatives’ 20%). Another example of this is Edinburgh Northern and Leith (which I believe had a No vote of roughly 57% and had the Conservatives taking 17.8% of the vote on the list vote to Labour’s 19.8%).

    The proposed initial boundary changes as per the 2020 boundary review suggests that Dalgety Bay could be joining the constituency: this very affluent town is effectively a suburb of Edinburgh which has traditionally been more welcoming to Conservative councillors over the remainder of south Fife.

  19. Why would you think that? You’ve never even been to Scotland?

  20. But regardless in terms of demographics it’s pretty affluent, not incredibly so but comparable to somewhere Ayr or Stirling in the Scottish Parliament.

  21. Dunfermline doesn’t have a reputation that matches how pleasant it is. Some of the suburbs near the train station in the west of the city seemed extremely pleasant when I went there. And the train journey into Edinburgh is gorgeous.

  22. Well that’s just a vulgar and unnecessary comment. You’re obviously clueless about this area Conservative Estimate.

    Another area that’s probably quite underrated is the West End of Dundee, which is actually fairly pleasant.

  23. At a very subjective level, Newcastle reminded me a lot of Dundee.

  24. Demographically and politically it seems reasonably similar to somewhere like Southampton.

  25. It seems that pages for the Scottish seats don’t have those handy demographic pie charts.

  26. Yes that is unfortunate but all of the information is just a few clicks away on the Scotland census website anyway!

  27. This is a pretty affluent constituency where Labour’s vote has held up fairly well. It had a below-average Remain vote for Scotland of 60% Remain, and rejected independence at 58% No in 2014.

    The Conservatives will be hoping for second here, and it could prove a very tight race for second if current polling is to be believed.

  28. I am going for an SNP hold with a reduced majority, perhaps 40 v 35 for Lab

  29. That’s a bit harsh on Tories Steve.

  30. Well, if Labour can’t reach 35 then clearly anti SNP tactical voting has its limits

  31. Well, this was a microcosm of the National result, with Labour’s share marginally up, SNP way down and Tories up a lot. Labour’s appeal for tactical Unionist votes fell on deaf ears here. The SNP vote is clearly built on sand, as was the LibDem vote back in 2006-10.

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