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. Danny boys fate was already sealed here, but that Telegraph story should help hammer a final nail in the coffin.

    The story pertains mainly to donations to the Lib Dem campaign in Brent Central…a seat firmly in the ‘dead cert loss’ category for the LD’s. I think alarm bells should have been ringing with senior LD people when they were notified that someone would want to donate money to such a doomed campaign.

  2. this is irrelevant…danny boy is about to leave the house of commons. from his point of view, the story could hinder his attempt to get remunerative employment after his westminster career is over.

    I think the first ashcroft poll in clacton showed carswell 35 points ahead….Danny boy is 29 points behind….he can’t win.

  3. Being a pedant, I can’t help noting that people have wrongly written Brent off as a sure loss in the past, and that the Telegraph is hardly the paper of choice for the swing left-leaning voter.

    While I find it amusing that nationalists interested in polling hinge on Lord Ashcroft’s every press release, and see it as downright lazy to use UNS as a UK-wide or even Scotland-wide guide to which seats the LDs will lose, one thing is perfectly clear. The point at which it’s credible to say that Kennedy is more likely to lose than win is the point at which it’s not credible to predict that Alexander can hold. And we’re there right now.

  4. Chris Hornet- I’m not sure of your point. You seriously think Brent Central can be held by the Libs this year? And whilst the Telegraph has broken this story, it has already been picked up by other newspapers and news channels.

  5. We all said it would be impossible for Labour to lose Brent Central in 2010 but they did.

  6. well yes andy, but no poll put labour 35% ahead of the lib dems there that year – people were merely relying on assumptions. and they don’t have the undoubtedly redoubtable campaigner teather as their candidate this time.

  7. Brent Central is a dead cert Labour win, but as Andy says we thought the same in early 2010.

    My (passing) point was simply that in a historically strange, currently unwinnable seat, being willing to put money in is slightly less odd than it would be in a seat which historically has tended towards the national picture.

  8. Using UNS when there’s been as big a shift in opinion as there has been in Scotland is lazy and inaccurate. It’s virtually impossible for there to be such a large swing without it disproportionately impacting on the seats where the Lib Dems and Labour did better in 2010.

    Also, given that the Lib Dems appear much more vulnerable across the UK in seats where the challenging party is to their left than in those where the Tories are second, it would again appear that UNS may not be the best predictor for their results. It probably is a solid predictor for Con/Lab seats generally, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it was a better predictor than the collected wisdom of UKPR contributors.

  9. Jim Naughtie did a feature on this seat in the Today programme this morning – which I admittedly only half-caught – but seemed surprisingly optimistic about DA keeping the seat (the bits I heard at any rate).

  10. SaintStevie: Really? Alexander is undoubtedly the most tarnished LD outside of Clegg with regards to this coalition, perhaps even more so, surely he has absolutly no chance.

  11. Alexander is going to lose his seat to the SNP on a big swing.

  12. @Stevie Smith

    I too heard Jim Naughties piece on Today as well but you cant really draw any conclusion from a couple of vox pops which may or may not be representative.

    Despite his 2010 majority I have long felt that Alexanders chance of survival in what is a famously “swingy” seat depended on a split in the opposition vote. With the SNP now appearing to be the principal challengers (in this and about every other seat in Scotland), those who dislike Alexander have a clear rallying point. His goose is cooked.

  13. “We all said it would be impossible for Labour to lose Brent Central in 2010 but they did”

    I certainly didn’t think that teather would lose. why should she have done, when she held the seat in 2005, when labour had a much higher share of the vote nationally….in addition dawn butler was under a cloud on expences.

    I wasn’t a poster here ahead of 2010, but I think Teather was favoured to hold her seat, despite the boundary change.

    2015 is an entirely different matter. The idea that danny boy holds his seat or that the lib dems hold brent central is bordering on insane. bookies odds, my favourite bs detector, emphasise this.

  14. “I certainly didn’t think that teather would lose. why should she have done, when she held the seat in 2005, when labour had a much higher share of the vote nationally….in addition dawn butler was under a cloud on expences.”

    She had been MP for Brent East and not Brent Central that was largely taken from Dawn Butlers Brent South.

    Brent Central had quite a large notional Labour majority but I think that the Lib Dems ran a campaign focusing in Butler claiming a second home allowance with homes in Hackney and Brent. Legally Butler had broken no rules but the Lib Dems may have argued that she was not being ethical.

  15. “Brent Central had quite a large notional Labour majority but I think that the Lib Dems ran a campaign focusing in Butler claiming a second home allowance with homes in Hackney and Brent”

    I know the seat changed a bit, but about 35-40% of it was I think from the old brent east.

    Butler was under a cloud, Teather was still the formidable campaigner she had shown herself to be in 2003 and 2005, and the labour government looked likely to be turned out, which wasn’t the case in 2005.

    I wasn’t privy to the discussion here, but thinking Butler was some kind of shoo-in ahead of the 2010 election is, and would have been, bizarre.

  16. I did not think she was a ‘shoo-in’ but would have thought that the boundary changes and the large notional Labour majority would have given her a distinct advantage.

    The less Labour parts of Brent South went to Brent North and the less Labour parts of Bernt East went to Hampstead & Kilburn.

  17. I did not think she was a ‘shoo-in’ but would have thought that the boundary changes and the large notional Labour majority would have given her a distinct advantage.

    The less Labour parts of Brent South went to Brent North and the less Labour parts of Brent East went to Hampstead & Kilburn.

  18. Have the Lib Dems commissioned a poll showing Ginger Nut comfortably holding on yet?

  19. In a donations exposé

    I assume local campaigners will pounce upon this to further hammer him.

  20. Dalek, I hate to be that guy but comments policy, seriously. We can’t just be blithely insulting politicians we don’t personally care for.

  21. Interesting reaction to Danny attempting to outline his alternative budget in the HoC today.

    You really have to wonder at the gap between his ambition and his ability. What he clearly thought would be a great opportunity seems to have ended with him being chastised by the speaker and shouted down in a mostly empty chamber.

    If your going to attempt gravitas you had better pull it off.


  22. Peter – to be fair to Danny the announcement has made the news and reports re. the LD alternative budget are doing the rounds, certainly it was odd that only 20 or so LDs turned up, shouldn’t they have all gone?

  23. Trying to present an alternative budget when you yourself were an integral part of the official budget is the most ludicrous idea ever. No wonder it was ridiculed in the commons, my 3 year old could see the obvious flaws in that approach. If Alexander and 30 or so of his colleagues are massacred in a few weeks time, one of the reasons will be the Lib Dems pretending they are both in the coalition government and out of it. Jeremy Browne was right – that approach gets them the worst of both worlds.

  24. Obvious question no.1 being, if the Lib Dems believe there should be an alternative budget then why did they vote in favour of the actual budget.

  25. Obvious answer no. 1 is that they could never get their own budget passed, HH, being fair to them. It was a silly way of setting out their differences with the Tories, but I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with them having those differences in this case.

  26. The Tories couldn’t get their budget passed either, but do you see them putting together alternative budgets?

  27. JB – They could do it in a PPB. I realise Clegg’s LDs don’t understand the Constitution and this Govt has breached a lot of conventions, but this was laughable. Danny appeared on BBC lauding the Budget yesterday and then an alternative Budget the day after?!

  28. I think it would have made more sense for them to put two sets of projected figures in the main Budget (i.e. this is what happens if Tory plans are met; this is what happens if LD plans are met).

    Bercow should have told Alexander to sit down when it became obvious that he was disregarding Bercow’s warning that it should not be a party political statement. Maybe Bercow felt sorry for him.

  29. James,

    “I think it would have made more sense for them to put two sets of projected figures in the main Budget”

    But them wouldn’t they both be doing what the Speaker warned Danny of, using their Ministerial position for Party political purposes.


  30. Yes, absolutely. You can’t use the Govt despatch box for a fictional Govt announcement that doesn’t exist. If we allowed that, would we allow DUP, Plaid, UKIP, Respect, Green alternative Budgets from the Opposition front bench?

  31. The trouble is that for projected figures you can’t really assume there’ll still be the same coalition, or you just end up with some silly figures pulled out of air because nobody knows what a hypothetical future agreement would look like. Two sets of projected figures may well be the only way to deal with this in coalition, in my opinion, at least for any figures given for after the end of the parliamentary term.

  32. perhaps we should just be patient & put up with danny Alexander’s absurdities such as this weird alternative budget. after all, he won’t be in parliament for much longer.

  33. Nine days, to be exact.

  34. There is also that, of course.

  35. Interesting Guardian article on the fight here:

    Though I’m not altering my opinion from 12th March.

  36. SNP Gain.

    (And I think that given Danny Alexander’s shocking performance in the election campaign, most Tory voters would rejoice at that fact. Certainly there seems to be little incentive for them to vote tactically to prop him up).

  37. Lib Dems are now saying Alexander has lost his seat!

  38. Is this news? (See my post 12th March).

  39. Danny Alexander actually won more votes this time than when he was first elected in 2005 in the same seat with the same boundaries: 18,029 vs 17,830. Shows how important a big increase in turnout in Scotland was for the SNP success.

  40. I think it’s a mistake to think there’s a substantial turnout gap in favour of the SNP. There certainly wasn’t at the referendum, and GE opinion polling didn’t suggest that SNP supporters were substantially more likely to vote than the supporters of other parties. I’d suggest that what did for Alexander was the same as did for most defeated politicians – there was a shift in opinion to other parties. The increased turnout is more a result of the referendum campaign producing a greater interest in politics generally.

  41. Very few SNP marginals………Berwickshire, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh West, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh North & Leith, East Lothian and Paisley & Renfrewshire North.

    Many of these seats may only have been closer due to unionist tactical voting. In 2020, the SNP will have incumbency in these seats so they may not be as likely to revert back as they look.

    Its also hard to ascertain the extent of ‘unionist’ tactical voting for the incumbent that occurred in Paisley & Renfrewshire North and East Renfrewshire. The unwinding of this and the loss of Murphy’s and Alexander’s incumbency factor and the gain of SNP incumbency could make these seats harder to regain than they look.

    In East Renfrewshire, the Tories could emerge as the main challenger to the SNP if there is evidence that there was a significant number who backed Murphy in 2015.

    In fact, other than Dundee East, the SNP holds are less safe now than some of the previously ultra safe Labour seats.

  42. Paisley & Renfrewshire North is the obvious outlier in that list. All the rest are relatively wealthier and more unionist seats.

    I suspect the Douglas Alexander against a student narrative probably resulted in a slightly less awful performance for Labour in Paisley than elsewhere in west central Scotland. Assuming Mhairi Black either turns out to be competent or, if not, is replaced by a more orthodox candidate by 2020, I don’t see any reason why this seat would be better or worse for Labour than others nearby.

  43. “Its also hard to ascertain the extent of ‘unionist’ tactical voting for the incumbent that occurred in Paisley & Renfrewshire North and East Renfrewshire. ”

    I think we can get a good idea of where tactical voting occurred by looking at the change in Conservative vote share. In the following seats their vote share fell by more that 2%:
    Edinburgh West -11%
    Argyll & Bute -9%
    East Renfrewshire -8%
    Gordon -7%
    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey -7%
    East Dunbartonshire -7%
    North East Fife -6%
    Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross -6%
    Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock -6%
    Ross, Skye & Lochaber -6%
    Edinburgh South West -4%
    Edinburgh South -4%
    Central Ayrshire -3%
    Paisley & Renfrewshire North -3%

    Clearly, most of these were Liberal Democrat seats, where Conservatives were more likely to vote for the Liberal incumbent. The places where Conservatives seem to have voted Labour are East Ren, pockets of Edinburgh, Ayr/Ayrshire and Paisley North.

    Interestingly, the Conservative vote was up by 5% in two seats:
    Dunfermline (presumably returning to the party after tactically voting Lib Dem from the Willie Rennie by-election win); and
    Moray (it appears that much of the Liberals have moved Conservative here)

  44. It would be cringeworthy if I was to put gushy mushy stuff on this one.

    That someone like CK can lead a party shows that the Lib Dems were a joke – even then.

    Politics is not everything and it is a tragedy. I’m sorry for his family and those who knew him.

  45. Wrong thread – oh dear.

  46. Based on the General election results I’d imagine that this seat probably went Yes in the referendum while Ross, Skye and Lochaber probably went No.

    Here is the vote share combined for the Greens and SNP in the Highland seats 2015:

    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey: 30,205 (52.4%)
    Ross, Skye and Lochaber: 21,170 (50.6%)
    Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross [No Green]: 15,831 (46.3%)

    Highland total: 67,206 (50.3%)

    Apparently, according to RDL there was a Yes vote in RSL and No vote in INBS and CSER. I know that Inverness City voted in favour of independence. Maybe it was a No in RSL and Yes in INBS? Or perhaps the results for the RSL constituency in 2015 were closer due to Charles Kennedy’s strong Personal Vote?

    Based on the results in other constituencies such as Moray, Buchan & Banff and the Edinburgh ones I’d put the Caithness seat at around 57-60% No (a figure I already had in mind)?

    The Highland referendum results was: No 87,739, Yes 78,069 (52.9% No / 47.1% Yes)

  47. Danny Alexander appears to have the integrity not to go to the House of Lords. I believe that conventionally he would, as an ex-Cabinet Minister, have been entitiled to be nominated but how many people would respect anybody who takes the poisoned challice of the Dissolution Honours list just announced?

  48. Can I correct my last post? I now see that Alexander has been given a knighthood. This is the worst of both worlds. He has neither dissociated himself from the, in my opinion, disgraceful, honours list nor been given the Peerage which one would expect to be given to a respectable ex-Cabinet Minister, this being to my mind a political insult.

    Perhaps Danny Alexander hopes to come back as an MP but how likely is he to do so when the LIbDems allow themselves to be patronised in the most literal sense by Cameron?

  49. A few things.

    Firstly, he’s always been an ally of Clegg, and when you look at some of the others who were awarded peerages, it seems very likely he could have had one if he was willing. He obviously doesn’t want to go into the Lords at this stage in his career. Secondly, and I say this as someone who would abolish the Lords and scrap most honours, especially for politicians, I don’t really see what’s any more disgraceful than usual about this honours list. Thirdly, he has no political career in Scotland. He might, however, not be a bad fit for a more right of centre rural seat somewhere in England, should the Lib Dems revive over this Parliament.

  50. Why should England take a Scottish reject yet again? If Danny Alexander can’t find a seat in Scotland, either for Westminster or for Holyrood, he should go away and find another career.

    Having a knighthood is in future likely to hinder rather than help Alexander if he tries to become a “retread”, IMO.

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