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. If the Lib Dems stay where they are in the polls this could be the seat that gives us the biggest swing in Scotland in 2015. The Lib Dems wont have an incumbency bonus but Labour will and there is absolutely no conservative vote to squeeze at all.

  2. If Bill Walker is found guilty, I assume that he would have to resign as an MSP and there would be an interesting by election?

    As he was expelled from the SNP in April 2012, would the SNP still have the right to move the writ for the by election?

    Scottish Parliament election, 2011: Dunfermline

    SNP Bill Walker 11,010 37.6%

    Labour Alex Rowley 10,420 35.6%

    Lib Dem *Jim Tolson 5,776 19.7%

    Con James Reekie 2,093 7.1%

    SNP Majority 590 2.0%

    SNP Gain from Lib Dem

  3. Bill Walker,the Dumfermline MSP convicted of domestic abuse, quits Scottish Parliament seat after coming under pressure to resign.

    This will be a massive by-election.

  4. The 2012 local council election results in the wards that make up the Holyrood constituency were:

    Lab 9484
    SNP 5336
    Lib Dem 3841
    Con 1628
    Others 1457

  5. Agreed, this will be a big one to watch.

  6. And thanks for the data, Shankly.

  7. The By Election was set yesterday for Thursday the 24th of October.

    I predict a 38.2% turnout down from 52.5% in 2011.

    Lab 8186 38.4% + 2.8%
    LD 5841 27.4% + 7.7%
    SNP 5521 25.9% -11.7%
    Con 853 4.0% – 3.1%
    UKIP 425 2.0%
    Others 490 2.3%

    Lab maj 2345 11.0%

    Lab Gain from Ind

    Swing 2.5% from Lab to Lib Dem

    I see the Labour vote rising but not hugely. The increase in the Labour share of the vote in Aberdeen Donside was just 4.8% when the SNP fell by 13.4%.

    I think the SNP will be less damaged here because they expelled Bill Walker in April when the allegations first came to light.

    By contrast, the Lib Dems were at a very low base in 2011, and are normally stronger in Dunfermline in local government. They will also be helped by the fact that it was the local regional MSP (and former MP for this constituency) William Rennie who tabled the motion to ask that Bill Walker resign.

    Labour must surely be on course for winning the by election, but I can see William Rennie building on his local regional list incumbacy (as Scottish politicians of all parties other than Labour have done to date) to give Labour a run for their money in 2015.

    I assume that the next Scottish Parliament elections and the next UK General Election will be on the same day?

    If this is the case then I would expect a stronger than normal SNP performance at Westminster and a stronger than normal Labour performance at Holyrood.

    We might see Labour regaining all the Glasgow Holyrood constituencies except Glasgow Southside and the SNP taking Westminster constituencies like Ochil & South Perthshire and Dundee West?

  8. “I assume that the next Scottish Parliament elections and the next UK General Election will be on the same day?”

    They’ve moved Scottish Parliament elections to 2016. Same thing for Welsh Assembly and North Ireland Assembly.

  9. This was actually a still a very substantial rise in the Lib Dem vote from 2005 to 2010,
    yet it was still a shattering defeat for Rennie.

  10. Thanks Andrea,

    Labour must be on course to increase their majority in the Dunfermline & West Fife Westminster constituency, even if Rennie stands again.

    Although Labour are likely to gain the by election, the outcome in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections may be less certain (as the Dunfermline Holyrood constituency is less Labour).

    I could see Rennie providing a stronger challenge than the SNP to Labour in 2016, and perhaps giving Labour a run for their money.

    This constituency is a mix of solid Labour territory (former pit villages in West Fife) and other areas where Labour where Labour is much weaker (in the Edinburgh communter belt, that is based around Dunfermline).

  11. I presume that the National Trust for Scotland village Culross is included? That can’t be a very Labour area, at least not by western Fife standards.

  12. Rennie’s best chance of a constituency win in 2016 is in NE Fife. Thats the Lib Dems best chance in Fife, and if they win that they will in all likelihood not gain any list MSPs, so being top of the list wont get him in.

  13. I think that once the Lib Dem incumbancy is broken in NE Fife that they will find it harder to come back….as per Argyll & Bute.

  14. Despite the variety, Labour easily won the most first preference votes in all parts of the seat in 2012.

    In West Fife and the Villages they got 45%, 25% SNP, 10% LD and 8% Con.

    In Dunfermline Central they got 41% to 27% SNP, 18% for Lib Dem, 7% Con

    In Dunfermline North they got 49%, to 31% SNP, 13% for Lib Dem, 7% Con

    In Dunfermline South they got 43%, to 27% SNP, 21% for Lib Dem, 6% Con

    It looks like there is also a little bit of the Lochs ward here – possibly around 10% – that voted Lab 46%, SNP 19%, Con 3%, Others 32%

    Its interesting how close the Labour and SNP shares in the recent Aberdeen Donside by election were to what they had both polled in the 2012 Local Election (Labour got 33% in both, SNP got roughly 40% in the local election and 42% in the by election).

    A repeat of anything like that would make this a comfortable win for Labour.

  15. Labour have selected Dunfermline South councillor, Cara Hilton as their candidate for the Holyrood by-election.

  16. The SNP have the strongest candidate for 24th October- a former MSP. It should be a straight fight with Labour. The Labour candidate probably wouldn’t ace a live debate but that probably won’t matter. This will probably be won on a “get out the vote” basis. The SNP vote here is soft so if Labour is well-organised it should take the seat.

  17. I wonder if Labour/Unite’s shenanigans at Grangemouth will influence the outcome here tomorrow?

  18. I have watched the stupid behaviour of the unions in this seat with regard to Grangemouth and can only conclude that the workers and union are insane. They are a poor advertisement for an independent Scotland or a Labour government in the UK with strong union support on the Labour backbenches

  19. And you have no criticism whatsoever of the management? A very biased couple of posts.

  20. @Barnaby

    The company did push the workers into a corner, and I think the owner certainly manipulated them, but it’s hard not to think the union played directly into their hands.

  21. I don’t know too much about it myself (just what I’ve read on the BBC News app really) but from what I’ve seen:
    The plant is losing money
    Management told staff to accept “changes” (I assume to hours, conditions, probably some redundancies as well) or the plant would close
    The union urged (and got) a no vote, hoping they were calling management’s bluff.
    Management weren’t bluffing.
    A lot of people in the area are now screwed.

  22. It’s difficult to compute the two facts that Grangemouth supplies about 80% of Scotland’s fuel needs and is losing about £50 million a year.

  23. Interesting by-election in Dunfermline today for the Scottish Parliament. The SNP’s majority will be down to about one seat if they lose it.

  24. 42-45% turnout

  25. Lab ahead on most of the tally sheets I’ve seen so far at #Dunfermline count

  26. Looks like a 2000+ majority for Labour. The first ever Lab gain from SNP at a by election.

  27. I hope the independence campaign gets evil and nasty now on both sides.

  28. This was always going to be very difficult for the SNP to hold. They must be hoping there won’t be any more by-elections or defections in seats they hold.

  29. Labour gain – Majority 800

  30. That’s a prediction I take it, not the result?

  31. That is a prediction.

    I’m also predicting that UKIP will lose their deposit.

  32. What about the LDs and Greens?

    Live coverage from Newsnight Scotland:


  33. The result has just been declared-
    Cara Hilton (Labour)- 10, 275
    Shirley-Anne Somerville (SNP)- 7, 402
    Susan Leslie (Liberal Democrat)- 2, 852
    James Reekie (Conservative)- 2, 009
    Zara Kitson (Scottish Green)- 593
    Peter Adams (UKIP)- 908
    John Black (Independent)- 161

    Turnout- 24, 241
    Majority- 2, 873

  34. sorry turnout was 24, 200.

    Lab- +4.8%
    SNP- -7.1%

    Swing- +5.95% From SNP to Lab.

  35. Shares and changes-
    Lab- 42.5% (+6.9%)
    SNP- 30.6% (-7.0%)
    LD- 11.8% (-7.9%)
    Con- 8.2% (+1.1%)
    UKIP- 3.7% (N/A)
    SG- 2.4% (N/A)
    Ind- 0.6% (N/A)

    Correction- Swing- 7.0% From SNP to Lab.

  36. Percentage majority was 11.9%

    Conservative vote actually increased I think as well.

  37. The Conservative vote share was 8.30%, an increase of 1.20%.

  38. Not at all good for labour, they would still be behind nationally on that swing, and this is mid term, a by election, and as a result of a disgraced SNP candidate. All those factors should have increased the swing.

    Woeful for the LDs mind.

  39. “Woeful for the LDs mind.”

    No no. Every other seat in the UK is a special case so they won’t lose any votes there.

  40. Joe R

    I agree with your comment

    6 Years into Government, the SNP lose a by-election on a scale which if replicated across Scotland in the 2016 Holyrood election would leave the SNP as the largest party.

    I can see the day dawning when a Lab/Con coalition will be the only way for the Labour Party in Scotland to obtain power and they might well be daft and power-hungry enough to do it, though it would sign their own political death warrant.

  41. Can you? That’s a bit of a conclusion bearing in mind Labour’s continued total dominance in terms of Westminster seats in Scotland, which almost all pundits are agreed will continue in 2015. At the moment the people of Scotland broadly seem to be content with voting SNP for Holyrood & Labour for Westminster, but to say that that will always be the case is a rather rash prediction, surely.

  42. Barnaby.

    Yes I can.

    The dominance of the SNP by constituency on the List vote for Holyrood is even greater than that of Labour for Westminster.

    I also suggest that a substantial element of the Labour vote for Westminster is an anti-Tory rather than a pro-Labour vote.This is because the SNP cannot lead a Westminster government no matter if they win every vote in Scotland.

    As I argued before the 2011 Holyrood election, the Labour Westminster triumph would therefore not lead to a Labour victory at Holyrood., .

    You simply seem to be describing my prediction as “rash” based on no reasoned argument that I can discern.

  43. Not at all. All I am saying, basically, is never say never, as you appear to be doing. What evidence do you have that the SNP’s popularity will be everlasting? What if the referendum is lost? It’s inevitable that at some point in the future the SNP will be less popular than they are today. Don’t see what reason is lacking in that.

  44. Hallelujah!

  45. Barney

    I have not suggested SNP popularity at Holyrood will be everlasting, only that it will continue long enough for them to be the largest party in 2016.

    In such circumstances, If Labour and Tory together have more seats than the SNP have alone, I see it as entirely possible that the 2 together would do a deal to keep the SNP out of power.

  46. We do seem to have reached a stage where the conservatives are no longer labours nemesis in Scotland and more and more of the vitriol is directed at the SNP. With the precipitous decline of the liberals and the rise of British nationalism following a dramatic No vote i believe that the conservatives may do rather well in Scotland in 2015, probably gaining Aberdeenshire West and retaining Mundell’s seat.

  47. Certainly can’t see the SNP losing power for as long as Salmond is leader, extremely talented and charismatic. Compare to Labour at holyrood, where the most talented in Scottish Labour clearly choose Westminster.

  48. Barnaby said: “At the moment the people of Scotland broadly seem to be content with voting SNP for Holyrood & Labour for Westminster, but to say that that will always be the case is a rather rash prediction, surely”.

    I think Barnaby is correct in his analysis. The best comparison in Europe to Scotland is Catalonia. In most elections to the Catalan Parliament since it was restored in 1980 post-Franco the winning party has been the Catalan nationalist, centre-right Convergencia i Unio. However, in General Elections to the Spanish Parliament, Catalans have generally voted for the Socialists and this has been the pattern since the restoration of democracy in Spain.

  49. A 20% swing from LD to SNP is possible here, with Lab and Con staying about the same.

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