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 don’t expect the SNP to take this seat, but I don’t think the Labour cause in GE 2015 will be much helped by both Darling and Brown, the major Labour players in the referendum, standing down.

    Salmond, just a few years younger (60 at GE 2015), by contrast continues to battle on for Scotland (as he will undoubtedly put it)-Brown is simply reported as wanting to “go out on a high”

  2. A few things I found interesting about Gordon Brown’s speech in Dunfermline East after he held the seat in 1992-
    1. He said the Conservative vote fell in his own seat, but it in fact didn’t- It actually rose by 1.7%, while Brown’s own vote share was down by 3.1%.
    2. He also said the Labour vote was increasing right throughout Britain, and while it was true that they increased their national vote share, he also referred to a ‘huge swing to the Labour Party’, when in the end nationally it was only 1.95% to Labour.
    3. It appeared as though the only other candidate there was the Liberal Democrat, as when Brown finished his victory speech, that is who spoke next, as can be clearly seen on ITN’s coverage of the 1992 election. Perhaps the Tory and SNP candidates weren’t there?

  3. According to Fife Today paper Labour shortlist is made up of

    Cllr Kenny Selbie

    Michael Marra (brother of Jenny Marra MSP, former speechwriter for Iain Gray)

  4. Council By-election in Kirkcaldy East show big increase in SNP vote:

    SNP 47.3%+15.9
    LAB 35.3 -11.8
    CON 7.2 -2.3
    GRN 4.1%+4.1
    UKIP 3.8% +3.8
    (Oth) 2.3%

    They had better tell Gordon Brown he can’t retire after all 🙂


    Although it was an SNP seat the ward had been Lab 2/ SNP 1, and historically Labour have won by elections in multi member wards that they had a plurality of the vote.

    The fact that they do no longer does show a softness in the Scottish Labour vote that did not exist before the Independence Referendum.

  6. The SNP have now selected a really electable local candidate in Roger Mullin. Professor and with lots of other credentials.

    Local SNP membership according to reports in press has increased 6 fold since the referendum. This is not as ultra safe as you may think.

  7. Cllr Kenny Selbie is the new Labour PPC trying to save the seat from the SNP surge.

  8. At this stage I’d give Labour a better than evens chance of holding this seat, but we could do with a poll to see if that’s the case. To me Glenrothes looks the most vulnerable Labour seat in Fife.

  9. Glenrothes is a tricky call because although the SNP have done rather well at local and Holyrood level, I have a niggling feeling regarding the by-election a few years ago when they flattered to deceive in the post Glasgow East hysteria, at the height of the Labour Government’s unpopularity.
    Of course that now seems like light years ago in terms of Scottish politics and might just be about as relevant as the tories taking Pollock in 1967.

  10. It is in fact the same SNP candidate from 2008 that is contesting Glenrothes this year.

    Given the size of the SNP majority in the (barely) equivalent Holyrood seat, the size of Lindsay Roy’s majority is quite incredible.

    If the trend seen in the Council Elections in recent years is anything to go by, the town of Glenrothes should be steadily SNP. However, it is a shame that no breakdown of referendum results has been published within Fife, as this would give us some indication as to whether the large Labour vote has bought into independence as has happened in areas of West-Central Scotland with a similar demographic.

    Personally, I have this down as quite a solid SNP gain, and one of the few decent bets left at 15/8.

  11. Activists said that Kirkcaldy voted Yes in the referendum I seem to remember. North East Fife would have been a heavy No.

  12. [email protected]

    The Conservatives gaining Glasgow Pollok in 1967 was not that amazing. The constituency can’t be compared to the current Glasgow South West. For a start it only included the Southern half of the large Pollok estate (the rest was in Glasgow Craigton).

    It was still dominated by Pollokshields, Shawlands, Strathbungo and Langside that still largely private sector middle class at that time.

    Up till 1964 it had been a safe Tory seat but the construction of Pollok estate with new electors moving in from Glasgow Govan and Glasgow Gorbals was helping Labour.

    Labour gain of Glasgow Pollok in 1964 was the equivalent of Labour gaining East Renfrewshire/ Eastwood in 1997.

    Labour would always have maintained in 1970 sue to the huge population movements into it from the adjacent very safe inner city Labour seats.

    It that context it fair to say that Professor Esmond Wright only won because George Leslie split the natural Labour vote defeating future Labour and then SNP MP Dick Douglas of his initial victory.

  13. Yes, the local paper wrote that people at the count estimated Kirkcaldy voted yes. Dunfermline was on the No side along NE Fife.

  14. I’d imagine that most of Fife outside the North-east would have been pretty close, with NE Fife being somewhere between 35-40% Yes.

  15. According to Ashcroft poll, SNP are set to take this seat in May. Unbelievable…

  16. Looking at the sheer vote totals it is unbelievable but don’t forget Gordon brown is standing down which means he will take his personal vote with him. Also any leader gets a boost in his own seat so we should expect some unwind from that..

    Still a remarkable poll from Ashcroft but not as shocking when you factor out those 2 things above

  17. Ashcroft finds the biggest Lab to SNP swing of 27% in this seat which would mean an SNP gain.

  18. Ashcroft poll:

    SNP 45
    Lab 39
    Con 7
    LD 3

  19. The dour one works his magic again.

  20. Straw Phone Poll carried out 16-April


  21. If you poll 30 people how do you get 1% for others.

    The reality is that youvdont and your polls are pointless spam.

  22. That’s exactly the same as the Glasgow South West one Mr Way.

  23. @ Paul Way try putting some methodology behind it, if you really want to conduct polling in areas you should atleast try to make it accurate to an extent and not mislead people with a poor error-filled system.

  24. My straw polls are what people tell me when asked who will you vote for, this poll was of 41 people who responded, when one or two people have narrowed their choice down to two then one has to them as half vote, quite simple really

  25. Paul, what is the Age, Gender and social class composition of your sample?

    Have you considered that you are invading their privacy?

    I think 75% of your respondents are giving you false replies.

  26. I stand by all my straw polls, 3 weeks from now will prove that my “Miss Marple” style of polling will be more accurate than most of the “big” polling companies. Just wait and see!

  27. More like Del Boy than Miss Marple.

    More Like Fawlty Towers than Miss Marple.

  28. Paul, Do you Withhold your number when you make all these Nuisance phone calls?

    I wonder how long it will be before you are reported to OFCOM or to the GPO?

  29. I think this seat will be a narrow Labour hold, but I’m talking no notice of Paul and his straw polls. He’s making a very bold claim if he thinks polls will be more accurate than those of the professional polling companies.

  30. Labour can only hope that they are doing better in their Fife & Lothians seats than in the Glasgow area – these constituency polls are quite dreadful for the party.

  31. It is now very likely that LAB will NOT form a HoC majority.

    Bookies now go 16/1 (implied 6% chance).

    I am not convinced Labour will even have a C&S deal with SNP, esp if Labour are smaller party than CON and also if Murphy and Alexander are toppled.

  32. Barnaby,

    In the interests of accuracy may I point out there is only one Lothian. That is why there is a Lothian Health Board and Lothian buses and there used to be a Lothian & Borders Police. (By the way even Microsoft gets it right. Try typing Lothians into Word and see what happens.) There used to be a Region used for Scottish Parliamentary elections called Lothians but that has now been corrected to Lothian.
    Just because there is a Midlothian, a West Lothian and an East Lothian that does not mean that there is more than one Lothian. They are each parts of Lothian. Moreover, no one talks about the Sussexes just because there are East and West Sussex. And on the subject, there is only one Orkney and one Shetland.
    And Milngavie is pronounced …….

  33. l stand corrected.

  34. Can we please stop encouraging Paul Way by responding to his nonsense.

    This seat is now very likely an SNP gain. Brown should not have stood down (as I posted at the time). The instability of the next parliament will be made much worse by many of the greybeards leaving.

  35. You can’t blame a former PM for standing down as an MP- we surely wouldn’t want another figure in the House like the brooding pile of misery that was Ted Heath (1975 -2001).

  36. The UKIP candidate here looks very young, I wonder if he’s even the same age as me?

  37. Not blaming him personally. It is bad for parliament however that former PMs leave parliament more quickly now than in the past. It takes away voices of authority that can prevent governments from doing silly things.

    Heath might have been a brooding pile of misery but his presence was a very good thing in that he forced both Thatcher and Major to at least think more deeply about, if not change, numerous ill thought out bills.
    (incidentally it is totally unfair to compare Brown with Heath. Brown has in no way made life difficult either for Cameron or Miliband)

  38. Agreed. I would say in a way Brown going is something of a metaphor for Scottish Labour in terms of what fate will await them after the election, almost marking the end of an era for them.

  39. The supreme irony is that Gordon Brown could probably have scraped an overall majority in 2015 had he stayed on as leader and Labour held on to their Scottish seats.

    Were it not for Scotland, Miliband would be in a very strong position today and Cameron wouldn’t have even the faintest hope of staying in power.

  40. Indeed. Because of the dire situation facing Labour North of The Border, the game is very much still all there to play for for Cameron and Friends.

  41. Does Paul Way really believe that a poll of 41 people can be accurate? lol.

  42. Hemmelig- that’s funny. I was thinking the other day re: that exact point. I couldn’t quite decide whether Brown would have scraped an overall majority It’s almost certain though that Labour’s position in Scotlamd would be a lot stronger.

    As much as Brown is written off in some quarters as a ‘hated’/ unsuccessful Prime Minister, he managed not to go down to a cataclysmic defeat in 2010. More than could be said for some.

  43. All very interesting to think about isn’t it.

  44. I think you’re right Thristan, you have got to give Brown credit for that. That’s why I only rank him as the second worst post war PM after Callaghan.

  45. Callaghan didn’t go down to cataclysmic defeat either.

    Douglas- Home, Major and Eden also deserve to be mentioned in your little list (that’s if you are being truly fair and non partisan in your rankings ;-)).

  46. To be fair I worked those rankings out a few years ago and my personal politics have shifted more towards the centre since then, so I may rank Brown above Eden, but not Douglas Home.

  47. Douglas Home had an achiever to his name in bringing the Tories back from the brink after the Profumo affair and the 63 leadership crisis and kept Labour down to a wafer thin majority in 64. Although the biggest achievement of his career overall was as Heaths foreign secretary who took us into the EEC.

    Majors biggest achievement was winning in 92 and consolidating Thatchers legacy. That’s certaily worthy of merit.

  48. 5 worst PMs
    2. D-Home
    3. Heath
    4. Balfour
    5. Chamberlain

  49. Most academics rank Callaghan surprisingly highly and almost always above Wilson. I think that will end up being the case with Brown versus Blair. Brown resembles Callaghan very closely; a man who became PM too late, ending up out of his era at a time of external crisis yet coping surprisingly well and minimising the scale of electoral defeat.

    Brown expanded the welfare state more radically than anyone since Attlee. Like Attlee’s, Brown’s changes to welfare are almost impossible for even hostile successors to reverse. When memory of 2008 fades, this is perhaps what he will be most remembered for.

  50. Agree with HH’s post. I have always been surprised at Callaghan ‘s relatively decent ranking. Wilson, despite his electoral record and pretty decent stint as PM, is not particularly regarded. Overall, Eden appears to be the least regarded of the lot.

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