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. Even if Labour mess up their selection process here, I would imagine they have enough of a majority to hold this seat.

    Only the Conservatives and LD’s are in a position to challenge and somehow, don’t think either of them will be able to gain enough support come out on top.

  2. I think the Conservatives would have have had a chance on the old Edinburgh Pentlands boundaries but SW is most likely to be a Labour hold……in some respects the most likely Labour hold of the 4 Edinburgh Labour constituencies.

  3. Labour will lose a chunk of Darling’s personal vote. However, the Lib Dem collapse should swing more to them than to the SNP and we might see them remain around the 40% mark.

    Tories should go up a notch or two. Greens to hold their deposit and beat the Lib Dems.

  4. Labour selection to take place on January 17 with deadline for applications on Dec 18th

  5. “However, the Lib Dem collapse should swing more to them than to the SNP”.

    Why would more Lib Dems switch to Labour than the SNP? There is no evidence of this in current Scottish opinion polls. It is accepted that the centre left Lib Dem vote in England has largely gone to Labour, but not is Scotland.

  6. Andrea, the short listing is on 17th January, with Hustings and final count on 31st January, according to internal party website.

  7. Dalek.

    “Why would more Lib Dems switch to Labour than the SNP?”

    My reasoning was that the Liberal vote in SW Edinburgh would seem to me to be more posh unionist than pro-independence. I realise that’s very subjective, though.

    Looking at the estimated ward breakdowns from 2010 in the seat, Labour’s near 6,000 majority in Gorgie/Sighthill was immensely important in winning the seat for them. Given that Labour beat the SNP in the corresponding council seat by 5% in 2012 (42%-37%), when Labour where experiencing on of their better moments, a leveling up of votes in this ward might make the seat very close indeed.

  8. Dalek:

    You might in fact be right about the Lib Dem vote. A rudimentary reading of the 2012 Council Elections would suggest that the Lib Dem exodus split 50/50 between SNP and Tories in Colinton/Fairmilehead, and 50/50 between SNP and Greens in Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart.

    It’s unfortunate there is no more recent local data to base figures on than 2012.

  9. Sharon, thanks.

    I misread the Scotsman article

  10. Cllr Ricky Henderson selected by Labour

  11. The SNP have selected Joanna Cherry. She is a lawyer by trade.

  12. Ricky Henderson’s ward: Pentland Hills, lies within the constituency.

  13. The succession of Alistair Darling seems to show the continuation of a trend of Scottish Labour giants (Donald Dewar, George Robertson and Robin Cook) being succeeded by people of much less calibre.

    Scottish Labour was once so dominate because many Scottish constituencies returned people who were senior cabinet minister material.

    Ignoring the Red Nats in this constituency (Lab – SNP swingers who will have voted for Darling in 2010 but are almost certain to vote SNP in May) I think that Henderson may lose many of the Lab/ Con swing voters that backed Darling in 2010.

  14. Dalek.

    Your point is well made.

    Try as I might I can only find that the apparently hard working Ricky Henderson’s primary qualification for his position is 16 year’s as a councillor.

    Is he just another Labour time server, or does he have qualities not immediately obvious, at leas to me?

    He certainly failed in his attempt to enter Holyrood in 2011.

    Joanna Cherry is actually a QC, and I suspect may well be seen as a better advocate (is that a pun?) for the Edinburgh South West electors than Mr Henderson.

    With Darling retiring, mark this seat down as a real possibility of an SNP victory from fourth place

  15. “The succession of Alistair Darling seems to show the continuation of a trend of Scottish Labour giants (Donald Dewar, George Robertson and Robin Cook) being succeeded by people of much less calibre.”

    What a stupid comment. None of those people were “giants” when they were first selected for their seats. They were nobodies, as are almost all newly-selected PPCs.

  16. H Hemmelig

    Dalek is entirely correct.

    While the rational will anticipate no towering achievements from Ricky Henderson, if elected, it is fair to give him the benefit of the doubt

    However ,it is a long time since Dewar, Robertson and Cook were replaced, and I see no evidence-after years-that they have proved to be a patch on their predecessors.

    For your convenience the successors were:

    Of Dewar (since 2000) John Robertson-passable, but NO DONALD DEWAR.

    Of George Robertson (1999- 2005) William Tynan-WHO???????????

    Of Robin Cook (2005-2010) JIM DEVINE, of expenses infamy and jail time.

    The latter MP alone proves Dalek utterly correct 🙂

  17. And do remind me when it was the norm for “political giants” to be replaced in their constituencies by other giants?

    Were the MPs who succeeded Thatcher, Heath, Wilson, Macmillan and Blair giants? Of course not. At the start of a political career nobody knows who will succeed and who won’t. And constituency parties often deliberately prefer to select an assiduous nobody who will devote effort to the constituency after years being represented by a major figure. So you and Dalek are talking horseshit I’m afraid.

  18. H Hemmelig

    The problem for the Labour Party in Scotland is that the likes of Dewar and Cook have not been replaced by people of equal quality anywhere in Scotland.

    By Murphy, Curran-I don’t think so, no,< I suspect, do the electorate of Scotland.

  19. Ashcroft poll:

    SNP 40
    Lab 27
    Con 19
    LD 4

  20. For me, this is perhaps the most stunning poll of the lot. For the SNP to be so far in front in what has traditionally been a Labour-Conservative marginal, in Edinburgh, is quite incredible.

    The Yes vote in South-West was 38%. Ed East is now sure to go SNP, and Ed N&L – with a 40% Yes vote – must surely be tipping SNP now as well.

  21. To what extent – if any – does this reflect the loss of a personal vote for Alistair Darling?

  22. Worth remembering the SNP won Pentlands in 2011

  23. Hard to sustain an argument that Darling had any personal vote, given his share in 2005 and 2010 was broadly the same as that won by Lynda Clark in 1997 and 2001. Also the Lab -> SNP swing recorded by Ashcroft (22 points) is broadly the same as in other seats.

    The only obvious Labour example of personal vote in the Ashcroft polls is with Gordon Brown not standing in Kirkcaldy, where there is a much bigger swing. Charles Kennedy also showed some with the difference between standard VI (25%) and constituency VI (35%).

  24. Poor Kennedy will be completely lost if he loses…he’s been an MP since he was 23! I wonder what he will do with his life and how he will earn a living? Hopefully he won’t fall off the wagon again. He’s probably a good candidate for a peerage.

  25. With Alastair Darling gone, and the wealthy people in this constituency not wanting to pay more taxes, and fighting between Labour and SNP, I can see the Lib Dem vote going to the Tories, which could lead to a surprise CON win – !!!

  26. No it won’t. That’s just being silly.

  27. ‘..the wealthy people in this constituency not wanting to pay more taxes,’

    If this statement were true the Tories would have more than 1 solitary seat (probably about to have no seats) in Scotland. Many relatively ‘wealthy’ people are happy to pay taxes if it means a fairer society without food banks etc.
    As an American politician once said, ‘When I pay taxes I’m buying civilisation.’

  28. @Neil Turner

    That will be why Ashcroft found the Tories 5 points DOWN on their performance in 2010. Sheesh.

  29. You are correct James, Labour to just about hold on

  30. Labour Hold.

  31. If you put the latest Scottish YouGov polling figures into Scotland Votes http://www.scotlandvotes.com/holyrood the Conservatives will win as many MSP’s as Labour (25 each).

    The poll was SNP 51, Lab 21, Con 19, LD 5 (Constituency) and SNP 45, Lab 20, Con 19, Green 6 and LD 5 (Regional List).

    The SNP seats would increase to 70 and the Lib Dems would drop to 4, 1 seat fewer than the Greens.

    The Conservatives would win in 6 constituencies while Labour would win in none.

    The Conservatives were previously placed to gain Dumfriesshire and Eastwood from Labour. The latest figurers would also give them Edinburgh Pentlands from the SNP. With the loss of David McLetchie’s personal vote, this seat could be tougher that it would appear to regain.

  32. They are decent figures for the Tories, although not all pollsters are getting such numbers. TNS last week had them on 12% for the first vote and 11% for the list.

    On the issue of which seat is better for the Tories, I suspect they will struggle in Pentlands unless the SNP start losing vote share. Central could be won on a fairly low share of the vote, especially with a Green candidate standing as well. I wouldn’t see it as a short-term prospect for the Tories, but it’s not really a great area for any of the other parties either, and is the sort of seat that the Tories need to contend in if they ever want to expand out of the few remaining areas of strength.

  33. Boundary changes were to the Tories favour in Central in 2011 (2007 Notional result Con +2% Lab -4%).

    Boundary changes were to Labours favour in Pentlands in 2011 (2007 Notional result Con -3% Lab +2%).

    While I still think that Pentlands is a better Tory prospect I agree that Central could be won on a far lower share of the vote.

    The charismatic Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton took over 20% of the vote in 2011 despite the close SNP/ Labour contest. Their vote will collapse this time unless their voters are mostly unionists who don’t like the Tories or a Corbyn lead Labour Party.

    It depends on whether they are

  34. Tories probably voted tactically for him in Murrayfield etc last time so if this vote unravels then Ruth Davidson should get a respectable third place with 15-20%. It’s the seat in Edinburgh where the Tories are most likely to increase their vote.

    Standing in PentlAnds would have been riskier for Davidson as a small Lab recovery could have seen here pushed into third there.

  35. On the other hand, if she stands in Pentlands and loses, it would, legitimately, be seen as a significant defeat. I would have the Tories as clear second favourites whether she stands or not.

    On the other hand, she wouldn’t be expected to win in Central, and there’s a fair chance she can achieve a solid increase in vote share, given the makeup of the seat and the likelihood that the Lib Dem vote plummets.

  36. What exactly is going to prompt such a Tory recovery?

    Whilever the Scots are able to vote themselves more and more English taxpayers money at no cost to themselves why is it not rational for them to continue to do so?

    After independence a strong right of centre Scottish party is bound to emerge and eventually become competitive, representing the more prosperous areas against the socialism of Glasgow and the central belt. But until then, forget it.

  37. A strong second place (although currently 4th) in Aberdeen South and N. Kincardine could set the Conservatives in good stead for future elections, especially since Maureen Watt will be likely to stand down by the next election and Ross Thomson will be hopeful of being placed 2nd on the list and building local credibility. Likewise, the SNP’s 41.6% in Aberdeen South last year was towards the low end of the scale.

    That said, there’s no obvious 7th target seat for the Conservatives..

  38. Absolutely anything is possible. However, my impression is that the Scottish Conservatives aren’t organised. I met a campaigner from the Better Together campaign. He said that their objective was to organise the apathetic Conservatives. He said that campaigning in Scotland is a whole different ball game because it tends to be Labour voters which are apathetic but that’s not case in Scotland. At the moment I can’t see there being an opposition of any kind at least under FTPT. At the moment the SNP run an almost one party state for the foreseeable future.

    As for Independence, looking at Scottish Parliament polls the Greens look to do well in the Regional List going from two seats to eleven. If the SNP achieve Independence then I imagine that the party would no longer serve a purpose. Perhaps the Greens would prosper under an Independent Scotland with AMS certainly would benefit from the Social Democratic perception of Scotland.

  39. Oddschecker has given the first constituency odds for 2 constituencies (Edinburgh Central and Glasgow Kelvin).


    Edinburgh Central –

    SNP 1/3, Con 3, Lab 5, Green 40 and LD 50.

    Labour had a lead over the Tories here of nearly 16% in 2011 so the more favourable odds to the Tories must be down to Ruth Davidsons candidacy.

    I assume that they project that the Tories may rise from 15 to 18% while Labour could fall from 32% to under 18%. I remain sceptical whether the Labour vote would fall by 14% given former Labour Edinburgh Central constituency MSP (now list MSP) Sarah Boyack.

    2011 Result (Edinburgh Central) –

    SNP Marco Biagi 9,480 32.7 +10
    Labour Sarah Boyack 9,243 31.9 +3.7
    Liberal Democrats Alex Cole-Hamilton 5,937 20.5 -10.3
    Conservative Iain McGill 4,354 15.0

  40. Looks like one safe SNP hold then.

  41. I doubt Davidson will contest it hard as she’ll want to focus on the wider campaign… if she really wanted to get in in an Edinburgh constituency she’d surely have opted for Pentlands.

  42. In any case, Davidson or not the GE results in Edinburgh South West and Edinburgh South suggest the idea of the Tories gaining the Pentlands constituency is fanciful.

  43. There’s no real reason that the Tories couldn’t, in the longer term, be competitive in Central, especially with the collapse of the Lib Dems. They need someone who’s elected on the list, whether it’s Davidson or not, to focus on a particular seat and fight that seat for the next three or four elections.

  44. With the Tories’ buoyant numbers in the Scottish polls, what are the chances of them taking back Edinburgh Pentlands from the SNP? Or will incumbent Gordon MacDonald get a first-term incumbency boost and hold firm?

  45. I strongly doubt it. Weren’t even second last year.

  46. I expect Tory issues with city-dwelling demographics seen in England also extend to Scotland.

  47. It’s not tactical voting. It’s that not enough people in the Westminster seat like the Tories.

  48. The Scottish Parliament boundaries are a substantial change to the Westminster boundaries, I do believe that voting this year will follow similar lines to 2015. The Tories should move into second in Pentlands (from third in 2015), although it will be a very distant second at that.

  49. are not a substantial change to the Westminster boundaries***

  50. SNP hold Pentlands

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