Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey

2015 Result:
Conservative: 3410 (5.9%)
Labour: 4311 (7.5%)
Lib Dem: 18029 (31.3%)
SNP: 28838 (50.1%)
Green: 1367 (2.4%)
UKIP: 1236 (2.1%)
Christian: 422 (0.7%)
MAJORITY: 10809 (18.8%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat


Main population centres:



Current MP
DREW HENDRY (SNP) Highland councillor since 2007. First elected as MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 6278 (13%)
Lab: 10407 (22%)
LDem: 19172 (41%)
SNP: 8803 (19%)
Oth: 2426 (5%)
MAJ: 8765 (19%)
Con: 4579 (10%)
Lab: 13682 (31%)
LDem: 17830 (40%)
SNP: 5992 (14%)
Oth: 2172 (5%)
MAJ: 4148 (9%)
Con: 5653 (13%)
Lab: 15605 (37%)
LDem: 9420 (22%)
SNP: 10889 (26%)
Oth: 894 (2%)
MAJ: 4716 (11%)
Con: 8355 (17%)
Lab: 16187 (34%)
LDem: 8364 (18%)
SNP: 13848 (29%)
Oth: 1014 (2%)
MAJ: 2339 (5%)

2015 Candidates
EDWARD MOUNTAIN (Conservative) Farmer, surveyor and former serviceman. Contested Caithness Sutherland and Ross 2011 Scottish election.
MIKE ROBB (Labour) Contested Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 2010.
DANNY ALEXANDER (Liberal Democrat) Born 1972, Edinburgh. Educated at Lochaber High School and Oxford University. Press officer. MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 2005 to 2015. Chief of Staff to Nick Clegg 2008-2010, Secretary of State for Scotland 2010. Chief Secretary since 2010. A key figure in the coalition, Danny Alexander was a member of the Lib Dem negotiating team who agreed the coalition deal with the Conservatives, and since then has been a member of the "quad" - the group of four senior ministers (the others being Clegg, Cameron and Osborne) that negotiate disagreements between the coalition partners.
LES DURANCE (UKIP) Born Bishopton. Company director.
ISLA O`REILLY (Green) Educated at Inverness Royal Academy and Napier University. Pilates teacher.
DREW HENDRY (SNP) Highland councillor since 2007.
DONALD BOYD (Christian) Medical doctor and church minister. Contested Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey 2010.
Comments - 337 Responses on “Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey”
  1. Forgive me Dundee West had a bigger SNP majority than Inverness.

    I’d put more money on labour there than on danny, but both these are snp gains.

  2. James,

    Things are good on the ground people are motivated and as ever Drew (who as everyone khe knows him will testify is a workaholic) is out every day in what time he can spare from being Leader of the Highland Council.

    As I am in Rossshire however it’s second hand accounts but Drew is well respected and there has always been a bit of a feeling that Danny was in the right place at the right time rather than their on merit.

    He seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time if this poll is accurate!


  3. My prediction would be that if wee Danny gets ejected in May, as seems possible, he’ll be back in 2020 standing in an English constituency with a blue rosette.

  4. i suspect, in winston churchill’s phrase, danny will “cease to be a factor in public events” after May…

    but it ‘s a shrewd guess to think he might become a tory, were he to come back. I expect he’ll get a decent job in the City and we’ll struggle to recollect his name in 10 years’ time.

  5. That’s unlikely, really. It’s more plausible to think he’ll be standing in Scotland – probably here – as a Lib Dem again, attempting to reclaim the seat. In all likelihood, however, he’ll be done with politics and take up a lucrative corporate job.

  6. People are forgetting the LibDem list for Holyrood.

    I don’t really rate Danny Alexander as a politician but have you ever watched Willie Rennie.

    Even for a small group the LibDems at Holyrood aren’t particularly brimming with talent, so potential LibDem Scottish leader is an outside bet.

    Actual two possible consequences of the LibDems losing most of their Scottish Westminster seats are a rather nasty fight over the summer for Holyrood list positions between current MSP’s and former MP’s and depending how that goes a stronger LibDem team at Holyrood afew 2016!


  7. Peter the Lib Dems have already selected their list candidates for the Holyrood 2016 election, so that’s not an option until 2021

  8. He’s not really a great fit ideologically for the Scottish Lib Dem leadership, is he? I’d have thought they would be looking to move away from the coalition as rapidly as they can after May.

  9. SNP have selected all their challenging candidates except in Orkney and Coatbridge:

  10. Looking at this seat from the point of view of the nature of the constituency, rather than from the polling aspect, what surprises me is the complete collapse of the Conservative vote. I seem to remember Robert Waller saying that this seat (or its predecessor at least) had the second highest proportion of its electorate born in England, after one of the Edinburgh seats of any constituency in Scotland. This would surely usually indicate a predilection for Tory voting, given that whereas in Edinburgh a large proportion will be university types, here there will be more retired and business people.

    I know poster count is no indication of how an area will vote, but in 1997, though the Tories were hammered, they still managed to get nearly 7000 votes here, and the High Street of Kingussie, I think the largest town in Badenoch and Strathspey, was festooned in Tory posters (I was on holiday there at the time). Badenoch and Strathspey, being the heart of the area’s tourist industry, centred on Aviemore, is the part of this seat I would expect to have the strongest Tory support, and yet they finished a very poor fourth in the first count in 2012, behind Labour, whom I would not expect to do well here. Can anyone explain this? Is it merely ex-Tories defecting to the Lib Dems or SNP for tactical reasons?

  11. Wandsworth,

    The former rather than the later. For a fair period or indeed the Blair period Labour were the main challenge to the LibDems and so the soaked up the Tory vote to keep Labour out.

    That along with Tories standing as “Independents” for the Council has seen a slow but steady decline in the Tory vote over nearly two decades. People started voting tactically and then over time it became habit and the Tories lost credibility and relevance.

    Another factor added to this is that Highland Tories went back to being more gentrified farming based and less business orientated which led them to be identified as a party of toffs.

    I am not saying they are but a general association with Estates and the tweed wearing “Hunting Shooting Fishing” set has harmed their reputation.

    It’s actually unfair as although I am not a Tory fan in general a lot of them a decent people who create a lot of jobs and economic benefit they just have an image problem but don’t seem to realise it.


  12. Not a bad summary, Peter.

    The decline of the Tories in Scotland is, in my mind, a negative, both as a Tory-inclined voter myself and as a person who likes to see political diversity. The SNP, Labour, and the Lib Dems (particularly the Scottish branch of the Lib Dems) all lean centre-left, which really deprives Scottish voters of an important choice, I think.

  13. P.T,

    In a way what you say is true, the Tories in Scotland suffer from guilt by association with Thatcher but have retreated into a core vote strategy where they are talking mostly to themselves.

    That can come across as rich people complaining of being victimised which does tend to cheese off those who have far less and would be more than happy to exchange their problems for their money.

    I also think but the fair number of pro business initiatives from the SNP. And the more general adoption of a neo liberal approach to economics has made it difficult to be distinctively the Party of the free market anf free trade when everybody now largely backs it.

    In a way they may have boxed themselves in because as everyone largely supports the free market their distinctive feature has become being seen as the party that represents the wealthy and successful more than the aspirational and striving.

    Perhaps unfair but a perception largely of their own making.


  14. True. I wonder if a permanent LD collapse would help them.

  15. Doubt it. Most of the ex-Lib Dems seem to have gone to the SNP. It’s pretty much the centrist part of their vote that’s still left, and that’s the part that might consider voting Tory.

  16. Gloy Plopwell is in government! On this morning’s AM show, Danny Alexander said that, although it would be a tough struggle, he would not only hold his own seat, but the LDs would be the comeback kids in this election, and would hold every seat AND gain some more. I suppose you’d expect him to say that, but let’s remember it when he’s trying to explain away his defeat & that of so many of his colleagues, and he claims he’d foreseen it for years in advance.

  17. BM,

    Good point…He is the one cabinet minister almost guaranteed to lose his seat. What do you expect him to say?

  18. Ladbrokes betting suggests 88% probability say it’s 100%

    Cannot recall any candidate of a major party ever saying: “I expect to lose…I got no chance…etc”.

  19. Not quite true. Peter Bone defended Pudsey for the Tories in 1997 after the retirement of Giles Shaw. He cheerfully predicted he’d lose by 8,000. In fact it was nearer 6,000. It is unusual however, as you say.

  20. He must surely have said in the previous election when he was up against the Labour leader in Islwyn

  21. On addition to Pudsey I mean.

    Is this more evidemce of the Govt pouring money into marginals/selected members seats…?

    Torygraph: 27/1: “The Deputy Prime Minister says he wants Inverness to get a ‘city deal’ before the general election as Mr Alexander faces a tough fight against the SNP to save his seat.

    Nick Clegg has been accused of a “desperate ploy” to save Danny Alexander from losing his seat tafter promising the area a funding package potentially worth £300 million.

    The Deputy Prime Minister gave an interview to a local newspaper promising a “city deal” for Inverness that could boost the local economy by hundreds of millions of pounds.

    He said he wanted to sign off on the deal before May’s general election…

    Mr Alexander also announced that Loch Ness, also in his constituency, will get £2 million of Government cash to increase visitor numbers.

    He was forced to deny the Liberal Democrats were forced to resort to “pork-barrel politics” to save his seat…”

  22. Barnaby, Danny Alexander is hardly unique. Jim Murphy told us after his selection as Labours leader in Scotland that Labour wouldn’t lose a single seat in Scotland at the General Election. That aint going to happen either.

  23. Stephen PT

    Jim Murphy told us after his selection as Labours leader in Scotland that Labour wouldn’t lose a single seat in Scotland at the General Election. That aint going to happen either.

    I remember that one too. you’re right. they will lose a large number.

    I have never been convinced that pork barrel politics works unless you do it over many years with huge amounts of money. A few one-off projects- a university, a school, a or “city deal” ain’t gonna swing a seat.

  24. The LibDems are also demanding that the Scottish Government speeds up Dualing the A9… Which is a bit rich given that work has started while the LibDems didn’t do anything in the eight years they shared power with Labour.

    It wasn’t till the SNP took over that Balinluig the worst junction on the road got upgraded.

    Same in the Borders the LibDems promised a new railway on the back of a ridiculously small budget and time scale.

    They are now complaining that the project that is progressing well and is being well managed is late and costing too much, but that’s only true if you believe the original figures and time scale they promised and very few now do.


  25. This area could certainly do with some more dual carriageways.

  26. Pork barrel politics has worked in some parts of the US, particularly the Deep South in the middle of the 20th Century. It’s never played so well here, though.

  27. It is hard to measure its success – if a govt pours in money into a seat then wins , one cannot be certain if it’s because of this reason. Any unusual swing or much less than the UNS can easily be ascribed to other unrelated reasons.

  28. Pork barrel politics is common in the United States, though it has been under attack in recent years, as there has been a lot of publicity about wasteful expenditures. It does not normally benefit a particular party, but individual members of Congress. Long serving members of Congress gain power on congressional committees through seniority, and direct funds to their own district, often in ways that benefit their supporters. Less senior legislators play the same game, though less effectively, often in return for giving their support to senior legislators.

    The British system is not set up so as to encourage this to anywhere near the extent as is the case in the United States.

  29. James’ point is very true…pork barrel politics has to be sustained over a very long time…you could argue Gordon Brown practised this, but he was chancellor for 10 years and PM for 3. One off projects here and there aren’t going to win votes.

  30. Pork barrelling only really works effectively in poorer and/or remote places, which I guess somewhere like Inverness qualifies for. In the US, pork barrelling is most focused on the small and/or poor states. West Virginia is a very good example, where I lived and worked some years ago. The late Sen Robert Byrd was known as the king of pork. You can’t drive more than a mile in the state without seeing some kind of highway or building named after him, no doubt in gratitude of the pork which helped to pay for it. The company I worked for always went to Byrd to influence various laws and regulations and his influence got things done. The effect was to entrench Democratic dominance of WV in congress in a state that was becoming safe Republican in presidential elections. Note how WV’s congressional Democrats have been seriously eroded since Byrd’s death.

    Traditionally this is harder to achieve in the UK as people have been less willing to split their votes than Americans are….this is certainly changing though.

  31. I am always amused by the way US voters abhor pork barrel politics unless the pork is heading to their area, in which case they are more than happy to vote for whichever congressman or senator delivered it.

  32. The bigger and richer states get less pork, as do those states/districts which vote the same way regardless of bribes. For this reason, the Democratic bastions of the North East and Pacific Coast are much less pork barrelled than the mountain states, parts of the south and Midwest, Florida, Alaska etc.

  33. Pork barreling is much less effective in parliamentary systems where voters are effectively trying to do two things with their vote: elect a local representative and determine the composition of the next government. In the US the emphasis is very much more on the former.

    Alaexander could get lots of money spent in his area but it would all be for nought if voters decide their priority is ensuring the Lib Dems are not in a position to form part of the next government.

  34. Plus nobody will be able to pork barrel for Scotland better than the SNP, if they hold the balance of power.

  35. I don’t see what the LibDems do as Pork Barrelling, more playing to grievance. As part of their “All Politics is Local” mantra they excel at backing popular local causes.

    All politicians do it but they have done particularly well from “Putting Balm on the Chip on People’s Shoulders” as I heard someone once call it.

    The Trick is to support the project and publicly champion it while blaming others for not delivering it. That works really well as long as you never have to deliver.

    If you are in permanent opposition you can be the local hero championing the people against those in power who just don’t care. Get in to power and you have to deliver and that’s when you get caught out.

    In Rossshire Charles Kennedy has written to the Government demanding improvements and action on the A82. But it turns out the last time he contacted them about it was the run up to the 2010 election and he has done nothing since.

    Demanding action on the A82 is popular so you champion it, but once people learn you are only making a fuss about it at elections you are in trouble.


  36. (genuine question)

    Who deserves credit for the new sleeper trains for Inverness, Aberdeen, Fort William, Edinburgh and Glasgow? (to be delivered in 2018)

    Is it Danny Alexander or Holyrood? Would be extremely surprised if Alexander isn’t trumpeting this as one of his constituency achievements.

  37. Wow, I never thought I’d see an SNP supporter have the gall to bemoan other parties “playing to grievance”. A substantial part of the SNP edifice is based upon precisely that. The Scottish writer Christopher Sansom had it right when he argued that the party does not practice “…politics in the conventional sense, believing only in the old dream that the unleashing of ‘national spirit’ and ‘national pride’ can solve a country’s problems”.

    “If you are in permanent opposition you can be the local hero championing the people against those in power who just don’t care”.

    Isn’t that precisely what the SNP do? Although they are in government in Holyrood they are also in permanent opposition in the UK, and exploit that fact in exactly the same way as the Lib Dems used to take advantage of their outsider status.

  38. @H.Hemmelig

    Looks like the Scottish sleeper service is part of Scotrail, therefore devolved. Licence has been awarded to Serco from 1 April.

    @Kieran W

    Same CJ Sansom that frequently witters on about the SNP being Nazis? Not really a credible source.

  39. @H.Hemmelig

    Looks like the Scottish sleeper service is part of Scotrail, therefore devolved. Licence has been awarded to Serco from 1 April.

  40. Yes I am aware of that, but who paid for the new trains? I’ve a feeling it was the treasury, though perhaps indirectly through Holyrood.


    More than £100m will be spent on 72 “state-of-the-art” carriages for four trains, which will come on track in the summer of 2018. About £60m will come from the Scottish government, which has promised trains that are “emblematic of Scotland”. Serco said it would be spending about £40m on trains under the terms of the franchise agreement.

  42. Kieran,

    That argument is fair enough as the SNP has blamed “London” for everything from Austerity to miss managing Oil & Gas.

    But the difference is that for almost eight years in Government we have a record of delivery that the LibDems don’t.

    They promised the Borders Railway and New a sleeper services but the SNP have delivered.

    They oversaw the Scottish Parliament which was late and massively over budget along with the Edinburgh trams while we took over the Trams and got it done and the new Forth Bridge is on time and under budget.

    The classic is that the SNP promised and delivered on Tuition fees and the LibDems…..well we all know that story.

    I think in fairness we all know that all Parties blame the other lot, and yes too often too many in the SNP like to just blame London, but my point is that if you build up support through building up expectation that “It will be Different when we are in Power” you better deliver.

    By focusing on building support by backing lots of popular local projects the LibDems have become a victim of their own success, they got elected on a ballooning list of promises they never thought they would have to deliver on and it is coming back to haunt them.

    If you look at Danny Alexander’s record since becoming an MP. There is hardly a popular project that he hasn’t demanded at some point that somebody else doesn’t pay for, a good ploy……unless you end up in the Treasury as a Minister.


  43. Danny Boy could deliver all the treasures of heaven and earth to the people of inverness, badenoch etc. but it won’t help him save his seat.

  44. Peter,

    “Danny Boy could deliver all the treasures of heaven and earth to the people of inverness, badenoch etc. but it won’t help him save his seat.”

    Not so sure.

    if he had campaigned on a big local issue within Westminster controlled delivered I think he’d have a chance, but the closest he’s come to that is a limited reduction in fuel prices in remote areas and I doubt it made enough difference to enough people.

    it even backfired in that two of the places earmarked for the extended discount Achnasheen and Strathpeffer no longer have Petrol stations.

    In the past he has campaigned for;

    More money for UHI. H&I Enterprise, the A9, Nairn bypass, A96, Inverness Bypass,Nairn Bypass, anti A9 speed

    All Holyrood or Highland Council responsibilities where the Scottish Government can point to either progress, all be it slow but also that the Coalition has cut Capital Spending by 25%.

    it might work if he delivered but he hasn’t as he has asked for too much of other peoples money while not doing enough with his own.

    if he was still in opposition he could probably get by blaming London & Edinburgh, but he isn’t.


  45. Could there be a parallel between the demise of Lembit Opik and the potential demise of Danny Alexander?

  46. Not really. Opik went down to a massive swing against him even though the Liberals were going (slightly) up nationally. Alexander is really just going down with the tide. Inverness & Nairn is a pretty safe seat for the SNP in Holyrood elections nowadays.

  47. The National today has a double page spread on the battle for Inverness that really is more about Drew than Danny and hardly mentions anyone else.


  48. I concur entirely with what’s been said. There are few MPs, even in Scotland, more doomed than Danny Alexander. There’s just no recovery from those Ashcroft numbers this close to the election.

    But, further to that Lembit Opik question, I do wonder how much of this is to do with the national swing vs. Alexander’s substantial personal anti-vote. I get the impression that it’s a bit of both; plenty supporting the SNP because they would much prefer them to win, but also plenty of others voting for the Nationalists because they despise Danny bitterly and know they’re best placed at the moment to depose him.

  49. Danny Alexander on the front cover of tomorrow’s Telegraph:

  50. [email protected] When Murphy said Labour are not going to lose a single seat in Scotland was his subconscious that Labour where going to be loosing far more than a single seat?

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