Edinburgh South West

2015 Result:
Conservative: 10444 (20.2%)
Labour: 14033 (27.2%)
Lib Dem: 1920 (3.7%)
SNP: 22168 (43%)
Green: 1965 (3.8%)
UKIP: 1072 (2.1%)
MAJORITY: 8135 (15.8%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Lothian. Part of the Edinburgh council area.

Main population centres: Edinburgh.

Profile: The south west segment of Edinburgh, running from Fountainbridge near the city centre out along the A70 and the Water of Leith to the villages of the Pentland hills like Balerno and Currie. It includes Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Napier Universities.

Politics: This is the successor seat to Edinburgh Pentlands, once a safe Conservative seat. The then Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind was defeated here in 1997 and the seat was held by Alistair Darling between 2005 and 2015 when it fell to the SNP.

Current MP
JOANNA CHERRY (SNP) Former advocate. First elected as MP for Edinburgh South West in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 11026 (24%)
Lab: 19473 (43%)
LDem: 8194 (18%)
SNP: 5530 (12%)
Oth: 1239 (3%)
MAJ: 8447 (19%)
Con: 10234 (23%)
Lab: 17476 (40%)
LDem: 9252 (21%)
SNP: 4654 (11%)
Oth: 2310 (5%)
MAJ: 7242 (16%)
Con: 14055 (36%)
Lab: 15797 (41%)
LDem: 4210 (11%)
SNP: 4210 (11%)
Oth: 660 (2%)
MAJ: 1742 (4%)
Con: 14813 (32%)
Lab: 19675 (43%)
LDem: 4575 (10%)
SNP: 5952 (13%)
Oth: 727 (2%)
MAJ: 4862 (11%)

2015 Candidates
GORDON LINDHURST (Conservative) Educated at Edinburgh University. Advocate. Contested Linlithgow 1999, 2003 Scottish election, Linlithgow and Falkirk East 2001, Livingston by-election 2005, Edinburgh Western 2011 Scottish election.
RICKY HENDERSON (Labour) Edinburgh councillor.
DANIEL FARTHING-SYKES (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Lancaster University. CEO of Haemophilia Scotland.
RICHARD DOHERTY (Green) Born 1983, Glasgow.
Comments - 190 Responses on “Edinburgh South West”
  1. If there is a no vote, it will be interesting to see if Darling sticks with Westminster or switches to Holyrood. Assuming that Johann Lamont doesnt win the 2016 SP elections (and short of a complete meltdown of the SNP i cant see her as FM), one suspects Darling could walk into the role of Labour leader in Scotland, especially if he is just coming off the back of a no vote.

    In terms of this seat, the addition of Gorgie, Dalry and Stenhouse, with the loss of Morningside and Fairmilehead was really disastrous for the Conservatives here, and i cant see them making any strong in roads, certainly not with Darling as the incumbent. Although, if he was to switch to Holyrood we could have an interesting Darling v McLetchie battle.

  2. An interesting thought. Unless Ed has plans for him in his cabinet he might well want another challange and switch the the Scots Parly. EIther way I think Labour will hold on comfortable here regardless of who the candidate is.

  3. If Darling stands down here there will probably be a fairly substantial swing away from Labour, but they will still have a fairly comfortable hold.

  4. This constituency more closely reflects Darlings old Edinburgh Central than Edinburgh Pentlands.

    Edinburgh Central was a long term tight Labour marginal in the days that Scotland had a Conservative majority.

    As Labour advance it became a safer Labour seat (being contested by Malcolm Rifkind and Nicky Fairbairn).

    Boundary changes in 1983 removed Steinhouse and Gorgie and added Murrayfield, Dean Village and the New Town – turning a safe Labour seat into a Tory marginal, that then fell to Labour in 1987.

    Boundary changes in 1997 restoured Steinhouse and Gorgie and removed the New Town, returning the constituency back to its pre-1983 status as a safe Labour seat.

  5. But surely it includes the great majority of the old Pentlands?

  6. It does covers more of the old Edinburgh Pentlands than Edinburgh Central but I was refering to which constituency it was more similar to in voting,

    In 2001 Labour would have had a notional lead over the Tories of 17%

    Edinburgh Central was 25% while Edinburgh Pentlands was just 4%, so South West is closer to Central.

    The reason for this is that Edinburgh Pentlands lost the strongest Tory area (Fairmilehead) and gained the most Labour parts of Edinburgh Central.

    Edinburgh South West most closely reflects Darlings original Edinburgh Central (1983 – 1997 boundaries), that included the New Town and Stockbridge and excluded Steinhouse – Moat and Gorgie.

  7. Even so, the seat still includes Balerno & Currie, which I have always understood to be amongst the most Tory areas anywhere in Scotland, and some other areas where one would expect the Tories to outpoll Labour by quite some distance. Darling has done very well to lead by this much even given the Labour hotspots in the constituency – both in the North as Peter describes, and in the far SW in the grim council estates near the ring road.

  8. are peter and dalek the same person

  9. Yes Dalek is called Peter & used to post under that name.

  10. Sorry for being a pedant but it is Stenhouse and it is now in Edinburgh West.

  11. Darling must have a decent personal vote here, so if he were stand down in 2015, I suspect Labour will go backwards, but still easily win.

  12. David McLetchie has died, aged only 61

  13. That’s a bit of a shock, and sad.
    The Tories had quite high hopes of him to recover support after 1997, although sadly that never really happened except in a few isolated spots.

  14. Desperately sad news – we are grateful to people like Annabel Goldie, and David McLetchie for putting up a fight in Scotland after 1997 – things could have been even worse otherwise.

  15. David McLetchie was notable for gaining Edinburgh Pentlands from Iain Grey in 2003.

    He increased his majority to 4525 in 2007 (over the level pegging Lab and SNP) but boundary changes reduced that margin to a notional 2742, and he lost the seat to the SNP in 2011 by 1758.

    Its possible that had it not been for the boundary changes, he may just have held on.

  16. Dalek why have you changed your name?

    Your spelling and odd focus on exact numbers and Scotland easily gives you away.

  17. Gordon Lindhurst has been selected for the Conservatives:


  18. No problems for Labour atall here. I’m not in tune with events here but I would have thought as the LD vote goes backwards, Labour could hit 50%.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, the thrashing out of the referendum issue could remove a little bit of the underlying hostility to the Tories aswell (as seen slightly in recent results) and add them 1% or so aswell.

  19. I think Labour are a little flattered by the size of their lead here, which is clearly exaggerated by the surprisingly evenly split anti-Labour vote at the moment. It is hard to believe that a constituency which includes Currie, Balerno, Colinton, Juniper Green & Fairmilehead is as poor for the Tories as this, and at some point they should at least take closer order. However, there are some extremely heavily Labour areas both in the outer ring council estates & towards the city centre & actually winning it could be permanently beyond them assuming it remains in its current form (and assuming a No vote too).

  20. Interesting result in Edinburgh Central in 1955 –

    Thomas Oswald (Lab) 16,735
    Rolf Harris (Con) 15,796

    Labour Majority 939

  21. That is one of the seats that the Conservatives might have gained in 1959 had the swing to them in Scotland matched that in England. In England they enjoyed a swing of 1.5% in their favour while in Scotland there was a swing of similar proportions against them (although several of the Edinburgh seats, including Edinburgh Central did swing their way). Consequently the Conservatives lost a number of seats like Ayrshire Central, Glasgow Craigton and Lanark. If the swing had gone the other way they might have won (or come very close to winning): Dunbartonshire East, Dundee West, Edinburgh Central, Glasgow Provan, Greenock and Stirling, Falkirk & Grangemouth

  22. ITV News at Ten has called Round 2 of Darling vs Salmond in favour of Salmond and that the no lead was 6%.

    Is a 6% lead sufficient for the Better Together Campaign in the event that the Nationalists are more motivated to vote than the Unionists?

  23. It was incredibly boring and I switched over to an excellent program on BBC Parliament (81) about the 1st World war presented by Mark Darcey.

    I have some time for Alistair Darling as he argues in a fair way and did at least get it to an extent over the economy (unlike his boss).

    Salmond has clearly resorted to un ultra left platform rather than a constitutional one.

    I do think we should have a Conservative voice in the campaign.

  24. Guardian ICM Polls –

    Round One: Darling 46% Salmond 44%
    Round Two: Salmond 71% Darling 29%

  25. Darling is better with factual less passionate stuff – more his forte – he allowed himself to be riled too much – even though Salmond talks rent a mob far left rubbish.

  26. It was a thoroughly depressing lot.

  27. The arguments were badly put this time on the currency.
    Salmond basically said he would use the currency anyway and saddle the rest of the UK with debts if we didn’t share the full infrastructure like some bankrupt far left town hall.
    But in a country where the right are so marginalised he may think this is what appeals.

    I do think the Tories may come out of this with an extra point or two though now it’s been finally thrashed out and exposed as looking so silly.

  28. I would like to see the SNP get a real punishment next May circa 1979 – not sure why though as I’m not sure it’s in the Tory interest.

  29. “I think Labour are a little flattered by the size of their lead here, which is clearly exaggerated by the surprisingly evenly split anti-Labour vote at the moment. It is hard to believe that a constituency which includes Currie, Balerno, Colinton, Juniper Green & Fairmilehead is as poor for the Tories as this, and at some point they should at least take closer order.”

    The solidly Conservative Fairmilehead and Conservative/ Lib Dem South Morningside/ Braidburn were moved to Edinburgh South in 2005.

    40% of Edinburgh Central was added (Shandon, Dalry, Fountainbridge, Tollcross and Haymarket)….solid Labour territory.

    This constituency can’t possibly be compaired to the previous Edinburgh Pentlands…its political composition is much more similar to the old Edinburgh Central.

    Labour’s 2001 notional majority in Edinburgh South West was far more similar to 2001 result in Edinburgh Central than Edinburgh Pentlands.

    The Conservative areas of Currie, Balerno and Colinton effectively replace Murryfield and Dean Village.

    Wester Hailes and Sighthill are solid Labour areas with only the SNP having any distant presence.

  30. New YouGov poll suggests that Darling’s seat is at risk at the next election.


    Obviously its one poll of a few 1000 people at most, but if come election day voters are still feeling angry towards him for “lying” about the Scottish Referendum and also failing to turn up for a debate on the matter in parliament (which seems to have a lot of people very angry) it would be a major boost for the SNP party to take this seat

    In fact I wonder if it would be one of the biggest shocks in history baring in mind he just led a successful referendum capaign and a few months later lost his seat (although I think he led poorly and it was more Brown and Westminster’s Devo Max which won it.)

  31. There is absolutely no way the SNP will win this seat in a Westminster general election. It’s going to be a comfortable hold for Darling.

  32. Actually, Barnaby, Mr. Darling’s ‘negative incumbency’ herecould (just possibly) result in an SNP win next year (even if you do not believe today’s STV poll which projects the SNP winning 90% of all Westminster seats in Scotland in 2015), as the SNP can also take many Liberal Democrat votes.

  33. While the 43 to 27% is more plausible than the 52 to 23% poll….The former would still suggest a close result here.

    With strong leadership Labour could edge ahead of the SNP again but the will not regain their 20% plus leads over the 2nd party that they have enjoyed since 1987.

  34. Darling waves goodbye to the Commons, according to the FT.

  35. Just saw this. I still very much doubt this seat is in danger provided Labour don’t pick an absolute howler of a candidate.

  36. Oops Barnaby…

  37. This could be a three-way marginal now that Darling has retired, with Lab, Con and SNP all in with a chance.

  38. Well it is more difficult without Darling. I am rather surprised at this news. It should still be a hold though.

  39. I agree with Barnaby.

  40. Surprised about this announcement.

  41. Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but the SNP do not have even a glimmer of a chance here. They’ll probably beat the Lib Dems into 4th, and that’ll be a satisfactory result for them in this seat.

    Talk of Darling’s “negative incumbency” is utter hocum – he is very popular here, and him standing down will make this a little interesting. Labour will still hold, but their majority over the Conservatives could well be under 10%. Something like a 40:30:20:10 scenario, but with Labour probably a bit under 30 making room for a small Others vote.

  42. I just spotted that one. That was really stupid wasn’t it. This is a seat with plenty of Conservative potential & Alistair Darling wouldn’t have got the majority of the size he has done if he were unpopular. Balerno, Currie, Colinton, Fairmilehead, Craiglockhart, Juniper Green – these are all areas where the Tories should & usually do win by a long way, especially Balerno, Currie & Colinton.

  43. I suppose the issue will be whether the SNP eat into Labour’s vote in the grittier more central wards?

  44. Yes, though the grittier wards are in fact at the opposite ends of the constituency – the inner city wards of which you speak in the far north & the grim council estates of Wester Hailes & Sighthill in the far south-western outskirts, as well as the smaller Hailes itself. The Tory vote is in the centre & south-east of the constituency.

  45. “The Tory vote is in the centre & south-east of the constituency.”

    More Central and South West as the more Conservative South East (Fairmilehead, South Morningside and Braidburn) were transferred to Edinburgh South in 2005.

    This is not a seat that the SNP will split Labour’s vote and let the the Conservatives in because by the time the SNP had taken enough Labour votes to allow the Conservatives to outpoll Labour (8448) the SNP would have overtaken the Conservatives by 2952.

  46. How many constituencies remain in Scotland where the Conservatives are second to Labour and the Conservative vote still exceeds the Labour majority plus the SNP vote?

    East Renfrewshire and perhaps Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock, Stirling and Dumfries & Galloway….not sure ifthey are any others?

    Even in these places the SNP would have to take up to 10000 Labour votes and not a single Conservative vote…which means that Labours argument about the SNP splitting the Labour vote and letter Conservatives (effective offsetting the SNP surge in 1992) in really no longer holds water.

  47. There is always a danger in predicting Scottish seats using polls more than 3 weeks before an election!

    I would suggest this will be a comfortable Labour hold here.

  48. Labour should run a 23 year old SPAD here

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