Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath

2015 Result:
Conservative: 5223 (9.9%)
Labour: 17654 (33.4%)
Lib Dem: 1150 (2.2%)
SNP: 27628 (52.2%)
UKIP: 1237 (2.3%)
MAJORITY: 9974 (18.9%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife. Part of the Fife council area.

Main population centres: Kirkcaldy, Cowdenbeath, Kelty, Lochgelly, Burntisland, Kinghorn, Dalgety Bay.

Profile: Kirkcaldy is the biggest town in Fife, once the world leader in the manufacture of Linoleum but more recently an administrative, service and retail centre for the wider Fife area. Other settlements includes the coastal towns of Burntisland, Kinghorn and Dalgety Bay, and the former coal mining areas of Cowdenbeath and Kelty.

Politics: Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath was one of the safest Labour seats in Scotland, best known for being represented by former Chancellor and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but like many seats thought inpregnable it fell to the SNP in their 2015 landslide.

Current MP
ROGER MULLIN (SNP) Former education consultant and professor. Contested Paisley North 1990 by-election, 1992. First elected as MP for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 4258 (9%)
Lab: 29559 (65%)
LDem: 4269 (9%)
SNP: 6550 (14%)
Oth: 1166 (3%)
MAJ: 23009 (50%)
Con: 4308 (10%)
Lab: 24278 (58%)
LDem: 5450 (13%)
SNP: 6062 (15%)
Oth: 1698 (4%)
MAJ: 18216 (44%)
Con: 3013 (11%)
Lab: 15227 (54%)
LDem: 2849 (10%)
SNP: 6264 (22%)
Oth: 804 (3%)
MAJ: 8963 (32%)
Con: 4779 (14%)
Lab: 18730 (54%)
LDem: 3031 (9%)
SNP: 8020 (23%)
Oth: 413 (1%)
MAJ: 10710 (31%)

2015 Candidates
DAVE DEMPSEY (Conservative) Born Kirkcaldy. Fife councillor. Contested Cowdenbeath 2013 Scottish Parliament by-election.
KENNY SELBIE (Labour) Local government officer. Fife councillor.
CALLUM LESLIE (Liberal Democrat) Born Kirkcaldy. Educated at Balwearie High School and Edinburgh University. Writer and broadcaster.
JACK NEILL (UKIP) Educated at Inverkeithing High School and West of Scotland University. Student.
ROGER MULLIN (SNP) Professor and education consultant. Contested Paisley North 1990 by-election, 1992.
Comments - 361 Responses on “Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath”
  1. I’m showing my age now but I remember the days when it was said Tories voted early in the morning on their leisurely way to the boardroom or the Golf Club while Labour voters voted late on their way home from the daily grind at the mine/mill/factory – oh we all new where we stood in those days.

    Harold Wilson once tried ( I think successfully ) to get Crossroads (or was it Corrie?) to be rescheduled so as not to discourage Labour voters turning out to vote. (we didn’t have the iplayer on those days!)

  2. Walsall South Tory candidates-
    1997- Leslie Leek
    2001- Michael Bird

  3. As someone who was brought up in Bath during the 60s & early 70s I must be really lucky then, because I have successfully voted for:

    Ednyfed Hudson Davies in Caerphilly in 1979, who beat Ron Davies, who I supported, by 1 vote in the selection conference and then sodded off to the SDP in 1981 and didn’t even try to defend his seat;

    Stuart Holland in Vauxhall in 2003 and 2007; then

    Kate Hoey, who I was prevented by the NEC from voting for at the selection conference, in the 1989 bye-election and 1992; and then

    Mike Wood since 1997 in Batley & Spen.

    I have though voted for losing council candidates in two wards in Cardiff Central (then North) to tories, Bargoed, Caerphilly, to Plaid Cymru, in Hyde Park & Lancaster Gate ward in Paddington to tories, and in Batley West in Batley & Spen to Lib Dems.

    I even voted green in the 2004 Euros, because none of the Labour candidates on the slate mentioned Iraq in their manifestos or during the campaign, but I voted for my Labour council candidates at the same time because they had, although only 1 out of 3 of them won.

    I was even on the winning side in the 1975 European referendum, which was quite odd then for a Broad Left student activist.

  4. Why did the not let you vote in the selection contest for the Vauxhall by election? Militant connections?

    The only time I’ve voted for another party other than the Tories since I first voted in 1992 are:

    1995 local elections – voted Labour in the Bushbury ward in Wolverhampton.
    1999 euro elections – voted for the pro Euro Conservative party.
    2009 & 2014 euro elections – voted Lib Dem.

  5. I have never voted for a successful candidate. But I have only voted twice.

  6. I am the complete opposite….I have never voted for a losing candidate in a general election.

    1997 – Peter Brooke
    2001 – Jacqui Lait
    2010 – Col Bob Stewart

    Presuming Soames the man mountain holds his seat, my record will continue in 2015.

  7. “Harold Wilson once tried ( I think successfully ) to get Crossroads (or was it Corrie?) to be rescheduled so as not to discourage Labour voters turning out to vote.”

    It was neither actually – it was Steptoe & Son, at the height of its popularity in 1964

  8. My streak might or might not break depending on where I choose to vote. If Sheffield Central I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest that Paul Blomfield might win.

  9. IIRC you are from Loughborough, or NW Leics? Surely your vote will be much more useful there. Labour will walk Sheffield Central.

  10. NW Leics. Probably will vote there for the reason you say, although voting postally will lose some of the magic – can’t do it personally as I’ll be in Hallam all day.

  11. “I’m showing my age now but I remember the days when it was said Tories voted early in the morning on their leisurely way to the boardroom or the Golf Club while Labour voters voted late on their way home from the daily grind at the mine/mill/factory – oh we all new where we stood in those days.”

    It may be that the very small number of people who spent their days at the boardroom or golf club did vote in the morning and probable that most of them voted Tory, but given that around 13 million people regularly voted Tory at the time it’s obvious that these people constituted only a small minority of that total.
    In other words, it may have been said, but whoever said it was talking horseshit

  12. I was thinking exactly the same.

    Numerically, more Tory voters would have followed Alf Garnett’s daily routine than the boardroom golfers.

    In the politically polarised early/mid 80s, there were plenty of ordinary Tory voters around our coal mining village….most usually the self employed tradesmen and shopkeepers. This is exactly the type of Tory voter who is moving to UKIP now.

  13. Well done HH for voting Tory in the nice Tory areas in which you have chosen to reside!

    I voted for Rhodes Boyson in Brent North twice. in 1992 and 1997!

  14. “Well done HH for voting Tory in the nice Tory areas in which you have chosen to reside!”

    That’s mostly true, though in 2001 I was living in Crystal Palace, which is decidedly not a nice Tory area (and now part of a safe Labour seat).

  15. Tony Benn wrote in his diaries that Tories tended to vote in the morning and Labour supporters in the evening after work, but I don’t know whether he had any evidence for it apart from anecdote.

  16. It has a ring of truth to it. The evening vote tend to be more skewed to Labour – in the London council ward I stood in, you could tell because the evening vote was far more ethnic. Business types more likely to vote before work, more working class professions afterwards (they are always more worried about being late to work).

    During the daytime is a reliable procession of pensioners, more reliably Tory than either morning or evening voters.

    As Peter Crawford has often posted, the Tories traditionally had an advantage with GOTV because so many of their voters have usually already voted by the evening….on the Labour side they need to hammer them all out in the final hours.

  17. What Tony Benn says is almost certainly true in most areas; it was true when he wrote it & my experience in countless elections is that it’s still broadly true. There can sometimes be exceptions of course. When it’s a different contest, then the same rules don’t really apply. I remember working in a bitterly-fought council by-election in Bromley-by-Bow, Tower Hamlets, on polling day in 1984 (I’ve alluded to that on another thread – it had a tale of apolitical woe in it, and maybe I mentioned that I left my pipe in Ian Mikardo’s car too!). It was a not-a-smidgen-of-love-lost contest between Labour & the Liberals (the latter won by 5 votes, but have never won the ward since). In the committee room, it was clear that it was going to be a toughie, and someone said hopefully that the Labour vote might come out later. But this was such a totally working-class area (it’s still almost free of any gentrification, except for a very few streets) that Labour & Liberal voters all belonged to the same social class & had similar jobs, etc., and there were not all that many non-whites in the ward in those days either. I knew that it was a forlorn hope & that we were in trouble.

  18. In Crookes this year I got the impression that the older people at home during the day were more reliably Labour than those younger people who came home after work. Not sure if that’s just Sheffield, I suspect many former steel workers and their wives move out to the nicer west of the city when they retire.

    I’ve also found when canvassing (this wasn’t in Sheffield but I shan’t say where as I’ll get myself in mischief) that knocking on doors of people who are quite obviously having an affair is not as uncommon as you might think.

  19. “maybe I mentioned that I left my pipe in Ian Mikardo’s car too!”


    Were you smoking it out of admiration for Wilson, Kinnock or Benn?

    Do you still smoke a pipe? I haven’t seen anyone smoke one for years. My grandad smoked his pipe like a chimney – on top of 50 years down a coal mine that wasn’t a good idea at all, and he unsurprisingly died of black lung/lung cancer which spread into the brain.

  20. I know by sight a student who smokes a pipe. It’s the most appallingly hipster thing I’ve ever seen and I’m rather embarrassed for him.

    My granddad apparently used to smoke a pipe until he set his trousers on fire.

  21. Pipes were very common in my childhood – seen as a more distinguished and less harmful way of carrying on smoking for old men. They have almost completely died out – much more so than cigarettes. You also hardly ever see cigars nowadays.

  22. Ah now I did know a couple of cigar smokers over the past year. My flatmate used to keep a pack around which he’d smoke occasionally as a treat.

  23. “Why did the not let you vote in the selection contest for the Vauxhall by election? Militant connections?”

    I’ve never been a member of any organised tendency, and always opposed the economic determinism of the “Militant Tendency”

    No-one at the selection conference, which must have getting near 100 people got the chance to vote. The person who received the most nominations from party branches, sections and affiliated organisations was Cllr Martha Osamor from Haringey. The constituency executive included her in the shortlist of candidates, but the Labour NEC removed her from the shortlist.

    At the selection conference delegates voted very heavily to re-instate her onto the shortlist and intervies along woth the rest of the shortlist. Many people who wouldn’t have voted for her like me, voted to re-instate her. The London Regional Party officials acting on behalf of the NEC immediately suspended the selection conference, and the remaining candidates were wisked off to another venue. Later that day it was announced that Kate Hoey, who I would probably have voted for, was the candidate, but to this day I don’t know who it was that chose her.

    My Grandad smoked a pipe for all the years I remember him. I used to bring duty free tobacco home for him from scout camps in the Channel Islands. I’m not sure how, as it must have been illegal really.

  24. No HH this was a very brief phase. I also had one in my late teens. I haven’t smoked at all for decades.

  25. Gordon Brown’s speech this morning seems to have had pretty much rave reviews. Norman Smith, not given to hyperbole, said it was probably his best speech for many years, that it was a return to the old Gordon Brown & that he appeared totally rejuvenated. It remains to be seen whether it has the desired effect – that of firming up the Scottish Labour vote in favour of No.

  26. I am now rather convinced that if there is a No vote, Gordon Brown will be quite well regarded in a couple of decades’ time.

  27. Makes you wonder if Gordon Brown would’ve been a better choice to front the Better Together campaign compared to Darling.

  28. I always thought so.

  29. But, basically, for the last fortnight he has in effect been doing just that.

  30. I think Gordon Brown was on good form this morning.

    In a way it’s interesting because now he has left the highpoint of the limelight he was in for for three years he seems very self assured and I personally can see him staying at Westminster for some time to come yet.

  31. Any guesses on which areas will be most heavily Yes or No? I imagine Faslane will be 80% No and Dundee may be 60% Yes? Shetland often tends to stand out too.

  32. Faslane won’t have separate results. I think the Borders will have the strongest No of any local authority & Dundee would I agree have one of the strongest Yeses.

  33. Surely Shetland will be the highest yes.

  34. No – my guess is North Lanarkshire

  35. Joe – I think Shetland has the only paper supporting a Yes, so far.

  36. Shetland News isn’t a paper (anymore) if that’s what you are referring to Lancs. Point taken that it’s an interesting one though.

  37. Shetland will not be the highest Yes. In fact it would be a great surprise if it did not vote No. Orkney has always been more sympathetic to Scottish nationalism than Shetland – though parliamentary election results mask this.

  38. Shetland will probably be the second biggest No, second only to the Borders. The biggest Yes vote could be in any of Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Dundee or the Western Isles.

    West Lothian, Aberdeen, East Dunbartonshire, Stirling, Clackmannanshire, Glasgow, Argyll and Bute and the Highlands are the council areas that will probably be too close to call. I’d expect all others to vote No.

  39. With the polls as close as they are, it could all boil down to who wins Glasgow, which based on its population and the possibility for re counts, could be the last council area to declare.

  40. This isn’t scientific in any way, but here’s my prediction:

    Western Isles
    Perth and Kinross
    North Lanarkshire

    Argyll and Bute
    West Dunbartonshire
    East Dunbartonshire
    South Lanarkshire
    East Renfrewshire
    North Ayrshire
    East Ayrshire
    South Ayrshire
    Dumfries and Galloway
    West Lothian
    East Lothian

    The overall result will be Yes: 48%, No 52%.

    Some of the results in council areas in the central belt will be very close.

  41. The bookmaker I tend to gravitate towards has Clackmannanshire as the second most likely to vote Yes by the biggest % margin: significantly behind Dundee, but interestingly ahead of both Glasgow and the Western Isles.

  42. Like I said, my prediction isn’t meant to be scientific in anyway.

    Clackmannanshire will probably be the first council area to announce it’s result, so expect the YES campaign to get excited when that result comes in, only for their lead to slip away as the night progresses.

  43. More horseshit.

    Numerous activists on the ground have consistently posted on here that traditionally Tory areas eg. Perth & Kinross, Angus, Aberdeenshire will vote heavily No (despite the SNP generally being in control in such areas nowadays).

    The bulk of the Yes support is coming from the poorer element of the Labour vote, in & around Glasgow especially.

  44. My prediction is fairly scientific: there will be a strong correlation between poor crime prosecution rates and high Yes vote percentages.

    Responsibility for police and the justice system is devolved by the way.

    On topic, watching Brown speak in the last few days (whether you agree with the content of what he says or not), I do get the impression that he fancies another crack at front-line politics. He seems more in his element now than he did for most of his time as PM.

  45. Well, he can let his inner socialist out in Scotland. No pressure to keep Middle England happy there.

    Though I disagree with much of his politics I’ve always quite liked Brown and if he wants to be First Minister then best of luck to him…certainly he would be preferable to Salmond.

  46. Is it being seriously suggested that he might move to Holyrood to try to propel labour back into power there? Or are we just having a fun little speculate at this stage?

  47. Well, he couldn’t simply walk into Holyrood and assume the Labour leadership. If there’s a Yes vote then he’ll obviously go there; assuming a No I still think it slightly more likely that he will stay in Westminster.

    But coupling his decision to go after Salmond directly on areas where the SNP currently have the upper hand – the NHS for example – and seeing the passion with which he is speaking, not just on the referendum directly but about related domestic issues (what domestic issue isn’t related to the referendum?), and I do wonder. He seldom managed to come across as statesmanlike as that in the year or two before the last GE.

  48. Part of Labour’s problem in Scotland was that all their big chess pieces opted for Westminster, and a string of of bigger profile MSPs lost their seats last time because the the SNP’s gains at constituency level (this was largely self inflicted – Labour liked to claim it was superior by not putting constituency members on the lists).

    If they want a comeback they could do worse than move some of their bigger names from London to Edinburgh. They should use Brown to emulate Salmond and try to gain a seat in Fife that’s a target and spin it as a huge omen of success.

  49. There has been talk away from UKPR of Brown moving to Holyrood. It would make sense in some ways. In the last 2 Westminster elections, in much of Scotland the slogan hasn’t so much been “It’s the economy, stupid” but rather “The real election is in 2007/2011, stupid”, referring to the Holyrood election. Brown would be head & shoulders above any of the current crop of Labour MSPs and the campaign has shown that, after a break from frontline politics, he still clearly has an appetite for campaigning & fire in his belly. I would no longer be that surprised if he decides to vacate this constituency next year & go for Holyrood instead. If he wants to be Labour leader there, though, or First Minister time is not on his side & he will have to hurry up.

  50. Even if he did announce his intention to stand down from
    Westminster and run for a Hollyrood seat, there’s still the small matter of Joanne Lamont standing in his way. I doubt he’d want to to mount a leadership challenge before the 2016 Hollyrood election and although Lamont is by no means an exceptional party leader, she’s hardly failed her party to the point where someone would consider ousting her. Brown could be accused if a coup d’état if he were to challenge for the leadership now.

Leave a Reply

NB: Before commenting please make sure you are familiar with the Comments Policy. UKPollingReport is a site for non-partisan discussion of polls.

You are not currently logged into UKPollingReport. Registration is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. Either login here, or register here (commenters who have previously registered on the Constituency Guide section of the site *should* be able to use their existing login)