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. A lot of horse dung flying around here at the moment.

    I don’t think sidelining an unelectable nobody like Lamont is going to be much of a problem if Brown decides he wants to be FM. The Scottish Labour party is the dirtiest political machine in the country and Brown has been at the centre of it for 40 odd years.

    Brown is the only Labour figure who has a hope of toppling Salmond (in the event of a narrow No). When Salmond is toppled, it is perversely the SNP who will have that problem. Who is there to take on Salmond’s mantle? Nicola Sturgeon is an SNP Johann Lamont.

  2. I think even as a Labour supporter that that’s slightly unfair. Sturgeon has fought a much better campaign than Lamont & that’s why you’ve seen the latter so little on the campaign stump. She might lack some of Salmond’s qualities but I don’t see her as a lame duck. Or sturgeon.

  3. In the new Private Eye there’s one of their “An Apology” columns about G Brown ie wrote him off as a weird and hopeless loser, in fact now he’s the hero of the no campaign. The funny thing is, having watched his speech at lunchtime, it’s actually true!

  4. PoliticalBetting is running a prediction competition for the referendum. Anyone can enter, prize is £50 worth of bets from Ladbrokes.

  5. I think it would make sense for Brown to move north and try to become Scotland’s FM. He’s damaged goods in vast swathes of England and a fiery speech or two in favour of the Union won’t change that. As H Hemmelig rightly indicated, he will be freer to be himself politically in Scotland.

  6. Apparently there won’t be an exit poll tomorrow night. So it’ll be like an election 40 years ago where everyone’s waiting for real results. More exciting maybe.

  7. I confess I still find Brown running for FM too fanciful for me to yet believe could happen, but then again after the Quebec 1995 the federalist forces, despairing of the quality of the provincial Liberals, did recruit former Deputy Prime Minister Jean Charest as the only man who could win a provincial election, which he eventually did. I suppose why not go one up?

  8. Will you be popping it onto YouTube for us Andy?

  9. I’d like to but I’ve just arrived in Boston, MA to visit a family member and so won’t be able to do the sort of comprehensive recordings I usually do. If anyone wants to help out by recording the BBC coverage I’d be grateful.

  10. One of the bookies have amended their odds to 7/1 for No and 4/1 for Yes…..Therefore the bookies 80% probability of a No vote has been greatly reduced.

  11. Dalek, I assume you mean 1/7? Two bookies have already paid out on a No vote win.

  12. My prediction by council area:

    I’m not particularly confident about the Western Isles prediction. It’s had an SNP MP for most of the last 45 years but a Yes activist rated it as just 2/10 for Yes potential recently, so it’s a difficult one to forecast.

  13. Forget my previous prediction. If it is true that around 30% of Labour voters are voting Yes, then that could turn most of the central belt into Yes territory.

    The strongest No votes will be in the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh and Shetland. Apart from that, the whole of the central belt (the former Strathclyde, Lothian, Central and Fife regions) could vote Yes with the exceptions of East Renfrewshire, East Lothian, South Ayrshire and Stirling. Argyll and Bute is more difficult to predict, but I think it will narrowly vote Yes.

    North of the central belt, Dundee and the Western Isles could be the only areas to vote Yes.

    It’ll come as a shock to the mainstream media that the Yes vote can’t win in SNP heartlands like Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Perth and Kinross, but not to people on this site.

    I’ve got Yes to win 17 council areas to No’s 15, but some if the Yes votes in the central belt will be very close and cancelled out by stronger no votes in the borders, Edinburgh and the North East. I think Dundee and the Western Isles will be the only areas to get Yes votes above 60%, Glasgow and North Lanarkshire will be in the high 50’s with all other yes votes being in the 50-55% range.

    Shetland and the Borders could get No votes over 70%, with Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway, and the rural areas in the North East getting No votes in the 60’s, with D&G being in the high 60’s. Orkney may just scrape 60%, with the other No areas being in the mid to high 50’s. Aberdeen, Stirling, highlands, Fife and East Lothian will be the closest results for the No side.

    Overall I think the result be Yes 48% No 52%.

    Turnout will be around the 90% mark.

  14. I think Yes will only carry 4 council areas despite getting 46.5% overall. They’ll come very close to carrying a large number of council areas IMO including Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Angus, Highland, West Lothian.

  15. Here’s my prediction by council area. Yes goes from strongest to weakest, whilst No goes from weakest to strongest.

    Western Isles
    North Lanarkshire
    West Dunbartonshire
    West Lothian
    East Ayrshire
    North Ayrshire
    East Dunbartonshire
    South Lanarkshire
    Argyll and Bute

    East Lothian
    East Renfrewshire
    South Ayrshire
    Perth and Kinross
    Dumfries and Galloway

  16. Thanks Adam, interesting predictions. Not long to wait now!

  17. Just had a look at your prediction Andy, and I’m surprised Western Isles is on such a knife edge. I always thought the Gaelic language and Scottish nationalism went together hand in hand.

  18. But then again, I’m only an Englishman looking at the referendum from an outsiders perspective. I wouldn’t be surprised if my prediction is proved totally wrong when the final result is announced in about 15 hours from now.

  19. Originally I had Yes winning Western Isles more easily but as I say there have been some reports from Yes campaigners saying they don’t expect to do particularly well there.

  20. I’m by no means overly familiar with the Highlands and islands, but I have visited them a few times during the last couple of years, and the conversations I’ve had seem to suggest that a lot of locals feel just as detached from Edinburgh as they do from London. So I can understand why the Western Isles might be less enthusiastic about Yes than might be assumed.

    That said, my most recent visit to the region was in May when I visited Islay, and through an entirely unscientific process of looking at what people had in their windows, I saw a lot more enthusiasm for Yes than No.

  21. Western Isles’ Count delayed until tomorrow morning apparently, due to weather. They’ll have to use fishing boats to transport the ballot boxes, as the airport’s had to close. So it’s gone from the first expected result at 1am to one of the last, with Glasgow after 5am.

  22. It has an electorate of just 22000 so the gap either way on the sum of the second last result would need to be as little as 10000 for this to make any difference and that would require one side to win here by an over 50% margin.

  23. Now that all the votes have been counted, I think the main reason my prediction was wrong was because I took the ultra-close final opinion polls at face value. I didn’t account for a shy No factor. I’m still surprised the Western Isles voted No and that Clackmannanshire voted No by a comfortable margin. With the overall result as it is I’m surprised Inverclyde was so close.

    But even if the national percentage had been as I had predicted (52/48), only two more council areas would have voted Yes (Inverclyde and North Ayrshire).

    It also worth noting that Orkney got a bigger No vote than Shetland and that No council area topped 70% for No.

  24. I predicted 4 councils would vote yes, which was true. Unfortunately they weren’t the same four I forecast, apart from Dundee.

  25. Of the 4 councils that did vote yes, interesting that only Dundee’s share of Yes exceeded a 10% lead. Glasgow and W Dunbartonshire were comfortable, but N Lanarkshire was close.

    A lot of surprises online with how the No vote won in the rest of the Central belt (howls of dismay when Clackmmanshire voted No to start things off) and the Western Isles. The tears and excuses of some nationalists are going to be slightly unbearable by the end of today.

  26. Looking at the referendum results, it is clear to me that class was the defining factor in these results. Large numbers of the traditional Labour vote in Glasgow and the West of Scotland choose independence. These areas remained mostly loyal to labour even in 2011, so a yes vote is significant and must be deeply worrying for SLAB.

    While the left wing yes campaign clearly helped win those aforementioned working class voters, talking of a permanent socialist Scotland may well have put off large numbers of ‘tartan tories’ in Aberdeenshire, Perth and Angus.

    “I predicted 4 councils would vote yes, which was true. Unfortunately they weren’t the same four I forecast, apart from Dundee.”

    Which areas did you think would vote yes Andy ?

  27. Dundee, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Western Isles.

    I forecast tiny No majorities in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.

  28. So could we see Brown standing for Kirkcaldy in the Scottish Parliament in 2016? It’s a seat which highlights the problems of the Scottish Labour party in 2011 having been lost to the SNP.

    If a seat is needed sooner, the other solution would be for Alex Rowley (MSP for Cowdenbeath) to cause a by election on the same day as the General Election next May and effectively swap seats with Gordon Brown. The Cowdenbeath Scottish Parliament seat is roughly the old Dunfermline East Seat which Gordon Brown represented from 1983-2005.

  29. prediction for 2015-

    Lab- 57%
    SNP- 24%
    Con- 10%
    UKIP- 4%
    Lib- 4%
    Others- 2%

  30. Quite honestly I think that Labour are going to struggle to get back in in this constituency due to severe problems. Firstly there has been major trouble with the MP for this area and poor leadership. There also has been too much of a laissez faire approach to the needy in this society and neglect towards the flourishing potential in the area. The Labour party has shown an appalling attitude in this area. There is also huge amounts of affordable housing required which has been left but rather there has been a huge increase in the amount of derelict housing. The Labour party had all the opportunity to increase the funding for the industry in this area for years but rather it has been left and now the industry is in decline and unemployment rate for children under the age of 15 has nearly reached 100% and the same for those under 21. I think it is time for some more radical movements in the area and that is what the people are saying. I predict that there will be a the next election will be 60% British Communist, 20% Respect, 10% BNP, 5%Green, 2% Monster Raving Loony Party, 1%Conservative, 1%Liberal Democrats and Labour = 0.000%

  31. I thought he’d stick around for another term just to get the Scotland devolution package through. Guess not.

  32. …EDIT, to see it through from the backbenches after a ton of speeches, etc.

  33. Looks like it has been confirmed now.

  34. There’ll likely be a big rise for the SNP here, but nowhere near enough for them to think about winning the seat. Maybe something like this now GB is going-
    Labour- 51%
    SNP- 29%
    Tory- 8%
    Lib Dem- 5%
    UKIP- 4%
    Scottish Green- 2%
    Others- 1%

  35. The SNP must really be worrying Labour as the news is today that Gordon Brown is to stand down to save himself being beaten by the change in mood in Scotland.

  36. There was zero chance of the SNP beating him here. They may be doing well in the polls, but not so well to be overturning a 50.2% majority!

  37. The sting in the tail, of course, would be if he was then redeployed to Scotland – that would give the SNP something to think about, though I suspect it’s unlikely.

  38. Brown has clearly had enoough of UK politics. He has a young family and has achived all he is every likely to. He is a rare speaker or attendee in Parliament. Most previous Prime Ministers have served out their term, except Blair who could not wait to go and make money.

    The only surprise is that Brown did not announce that he would stand down some time ago, to allow a successor candidate time to become established.

    This is one seat the SNP will definitely not win in Scotland, even if today’s polls are realised.

  39. I wonder if Brown is fed up with Scottish Labour as much as anything.

  40. “He has a young family and has achived all he is every likely to.”

    What an eccentric thing to say. Anyone would think you were describing some obscure junior minister. This is a former Prime Minister you are talking about….how could he ever “achieve” more than that?

    Anyway, people are perhaps reading too much into Brown’s gargantuan majority. Like when most other party leaders retire, the majority here will drop significantly, through probably not enough to threaten Labour’s holding the seat. Fife was pretty good for “No”, remember, even the more industrial bits.

  41. Despite Gordon Brown standing down, this seat is going nowhere but Labour.

    Although Kirkcaldy might be seen as relatively SNP-friendly, the same certainly cannot be said about Cowdenbeath, which was not only one a handful of constituencies to have elected a Labour MSP in 2011, but elected her successor in this year’s by-election by a huge percentage (against a very respectable SNP candidate).

    As such, for Labour to parachute in a candidate selected by the National Council, as is being suggested if Brown takes a while to resign, would be folly considering the relative local strength of the party, particularly if we consider that the winner of this year’s by-election victor was a local Councillor.

    The SNP will hit between 25 and 30%, but Labour should still win the seat by 15-20%.

    The 65% figure Labour are starting from here is hugely conflated due to the Gordon Brown factor, and with the SNP in second place, it should hit a representative figure for the party this time around at somewhere near the 13,000 mark (based on Cowdenbeath by-election figure + 2007 Kirkcaldy figure, and considering higher turnout).

  42. Brown is only standing down as he knew that Labour would be in trouble north of the Border. This will be a SNP win now he is gone.

  43. To be fair, this was the worst kept secret in the last couple of years. We should remember Brown’s slip of the tongue a year or so back, when he claimed he was “retired from politics”, which doesn’t sound like someone who wants to stay in parliament until 2020. When he said it, Labour were doing okay in the polls. He was always going to stand down whether Labour were set to be decimated or otherwise.

    I can’t see the SNP taking this even if they hit 50 seats. A bi chunk of the 65% vote from 2010 was a personal vote, but a very significant part was not. Cowdenbeath will overwhelmingly vote Labour, whereas Kirkcaldy might be more balanced.

  44. I don’t agree with DaveyD. Brown’s retirement makes the seat more winnable, but it is still a very big ask for the SNP to take it.
    I was surprised, when visiting a greasy spoon this morning, to see a full-page article in the Daily Mail by Quentin Letts in which he was quite balanced in his appraisal of Brown, and generous to him in a number of ways.

  45. I think it says a lot about certain members of the press that their attitude turns all statesmanlike and respectful once the target is no longer in power. In some ways I’d have more respect for them if they continued to loathe him.

  46. He was pretty bitchy about Nicky Morgan elsewhere in the paper. He seems to think more highly of Gove.

  47. Well, if nothing else, Brown will be mourned as the last PM who wasn’t a plastic former SPAD with no life experience.

    He deserves a lot of credit for how well he handled the bank bailouts, though personally I disagreed with his economic policy on a lot of other fronts.

  48. In my estimation, Brown was a good leader, but a terrible politician, in an era when we seem to increasingly prefer the reverse.

  49. Andy54 – your comment nailed it really. Good call.

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