Ochil & South Perthshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 11987 (20.7%)
Labour: 16452 (28.4%)
Lib Dem: 1481 (2.6%)
SNP: 26620 (46%)
UKIP: 1331 (2.3%)
MAJORITY: 10168 (17.6%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife. The whole of the Clackmannanshire council area and part of the Perth and Kinross council area.

Main population centres: Kinross, Clackmannan, Alloa, Dollar, Alva, Tillcoultry, Crieff, Auchterarder.

Profile: A large rural seat. The Ochil hills run east-west across the middle of seat, to the north the seat is extremely rural and contains the small towns of Crieff and Auchterarder, home of the luxury Gleneagles hotel and golf course. South of the hills is the far more industrial area of Clackmannanshire, with the brewing, glassmaking, textile and mining towns of Alloa, Dollar and Alva - now all largely disindustrialised and dependent more on retail and services..

Politics: Ochil and South Perthshire was always a battleground between Labour and the SNP - the Perth part of the seat was held by the SNP and they were in a strong second place in the old Ochil seat. In the context of the 2015 SNP landslide it was an easy SNP pickup.

Current MP
TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH (SNP) Born 1970, Chelsea. Educated at Edinburgh University. Former lawyer and actress. Contested Glasgow Govan 1999 Scottish election for the Conservatives, 2014 European election for the SNP. First elected as MP for Ochil & South Perthshire in 2015. Awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to business and to the Asian community.
Past Results
Con: 10342 (20%)
Lab: 19131 (38%)
LDem: 5754 (11%)
SNP: 13944 (28%)
Oth: 1298 (3%)
MAJ: 5187 (10%)
Con: 10021 (21%)
Lab: 14645 (31%)
LDem: 6218 (13%)
SNP: 13957 (30%)
Oth: 1856 (4%)
MAJ: 688 (1%)
Con: 4235 (12%)
Lab: 16004 (45%)
LDem: 3253 (9%)
SNP: 10655 (30%)
Oth: 1156 (3%)
MAJ: 5349 (15%)
Con: 6383 (15%)
Lab: 19707 (45%)
LDem: 2262 (5%)
SNP: 15055 (34%)
Oth: 379 (1%)
MAJ: 4652 (11%)

2015 Candidates
LUKE GRAHAM (Conservative) Accountant.
GORDON BANKS (Labour) Born 1955, Acomb. Educated at Lornshill Academy and Stirling University. Director of a building supply company. MP for Ochil and South Perthshire 2005 to 2015.
ILIYAN STEFANOV (Liberal Democrat) Student support worker.
TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH (SNP) Born 1970, Chelsea. Educated at Edinburgh University. Lawyer and actress. Contested Glasgow Govan 1999 Scottish election for the Conservatives, 2014 European election for the SNP. Awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to business and to the Asian community.
Comments - 198 Responses on “Ochil & South Perthshire”
  1. Con gain: fairly affluent, rural constituency which voted around 60% No in 2014. The Conservatives came first here in the 2017 locals. From a decent starting point in 2015 and 2016 I believe they should gain this constituency fairly comfortably based on current polling.

  2. The YouGov model predicts a Conservative Gain here.

    I think there will be a solid Conservative lead in South Perthshire but it will not be larger than the solid SNP lead in Clackmannanshire.

  3. I do hope someone beats the awful incumbent MP here

  4. I would agree if Clackmannanshire was not now in the constituency.

  5. This is relatively similar to the old Perth constituency, though not as good for the Conservatives as the old Perth & Kinross seat.

    I’m going to say a Conservative gain as well.

  6. Well the truth is that the Conservatives are probably competitive in both Perthshire constituencies. With a seat like “Kinross and Western Perthshire” they would not be as competitive in Eastern Perthshire.

  7. As a matter of interest, seeing as the description of this seat has Dollar as a main population centre – is there any historic link between the name of the town and the currency?

  8. I believe the currency term dollar comes in a round about way from Joachimsthal where the silver in them was mined; thus, joachimsthaler for the coin, then thaler which became the Dutch word daler….

    Whereas Scots Gaelic dollar is from a place name probably meaning dull…..

  9. I think most of the best Tory wards from Perth and Kinross went into this seat (I think it was originally billed as Strathearn and Ochil).
    That accounts for the very high Tory vote in 2005 onwards.

    However the problem has always been Clackmannanshire. Although interestingly the Tories actually performed strongly there as well in the local elections amd if tcaf could be repeated tonight they would certainly win it.

  10. Looks like a great night for Ruth Davidson and a dreadful night for Theresa May.

    Big gains for the Conservatives in Scotland and huge loses in London.

  11. Incredible to think Alloa is now represented by a Tory MP. Something unthinkable not that long ago.

  12. Conservatives ahead in all the Perthshire & Kinross wards. SNP ahead in all the Clackmannanshire wards except Clackmannan East that covers Dollar.

    I agree that it is really odd to imagine some parts of Clackmannanshire having a Conservative MP but it was also really strange to imagine South Perthshire having a Labour MP.

    This is common with many socially divided constituencies. While it’s strange to think of South Kensington now having a Labour MP it was equally strange to think of North Kensington having a Conservative MP.

  13. Of course, for many years they were 2 separate constituencies, North always being won by Labour, South always being won by a much larger amount by the Conservatives.

  14. Does anyone have any figures for how turnout broke down by social class? My guess would be that the turnout gap would have shrunken significantly compared to previous elections, as the left-behind felt that a real change of direction was on offer, while comfortable middle-class people were largely uninspired by either offering.

    It would also partially explain the big swings in places like Kensington. (And yes, the rich=Tory/poor=Labour paradigm is breaking down, but it will still be broadly accurate in somewhere like Kensington, not least because of the racial element to inequality in the seat.)

  15. The Scottish Subsample for the latest You Gov has the SNP still ahead and Labour pushing the Conservatives back into third place.

    Omitting the not voting and don’t know it equates to –

    SNP 36 (24 lose 12 and gain 1)
    Lab 32 (19 gain 12)
    Con 25 (12 lose 1)
    LD 5 (5 No Change)
    Others 2 (0 No Change)

    The SNP would gain Stirling from the Conservatives and the 12 SNP loses to Labour would include Glasgow East, Glasgow North, Glasgow South and Glasgow South West but not Glasgow Central and Glasgow North West.

    While this is a sub-sample, based on UK trends, this is the position I would expect in the next Scottish poll.

  16. Is it fruitless to remind you once again that subsamples are utterly worthless? It doesn’t help that you’re cherry-picking subsamples either!

  17. As for the most socially divided constituency in Scotland, I would argue that title jointly belongs to Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock and Central Ayrshire.

    After the provisional boundary proposals were revealed in 2003 for the 2005 general election more than 200 people objected to the proposed division of Ayr, Prestwick and Troon between Cumnock and Irvine (both miles away and socially much different from Ayr, Prestwick and Troon).

    As part of the current 2018 Review, more than 400 people from Ayr, Prestwick and Troon wrote to the Boundary Commission urging them to push ahead with plans to reunite Ayr, Prestwick and Troon within a single parliamentary constituency as “Ayr and Carrick” without pawning them off bits of the area to Irvine and Cumnock. This was by far the highest response from any part of Scotland in the public consultation, and I believe that responses in support for the proposed Ayr & Carrick constituency constituted around 20% of all responses in Scotland!

    In that same public consultation you had people in South Perthshire arguing for South Perthshire to join rural parts of Stirlingshire or remain with Clackmannanshire instead of being linked to Cowdenbeath: so I would say Ochil & South Perthshire is hardly as socially divided. Southern Clackmannanshire is fairly deprived, however, that area naturally links to southern parts of Perthshire and on the whole Ochil & South Perthshire is still a very wealthy constituency relative to elsewhere in Scotland, even with Clackmannanshire.

    In my part of the world, there is a strong sense of belonging between Ayr, Prestwick and Troon. Really there’s more of a reason to visit Arran, Wigtownshire or Carrick than there is to visit Cumnock or Irvine whose socio-demographics just don’t align as much with Ayr’s.

  18. Clackmannanshire North Ward By-election, 01.03.18:

    First Preferences

    SNP 769 37%
    Conservative & Unionist 659 32%
    Labour 493 24%
    LD 84 4%
    Green 74 4%

    SNP elected at Stage 5.

    24.7% Turnout.

  19. SNP 37.0% (-3.3)

    Conservatives 31.7% (+7.7)

    Labour 23.7% (-3.0)

    Liberal Democrats 4.0% (-1.1)

    Greens 3.6% (-0.2)

  20. Quite a concerning result for Labour in the former Labour heartland of this constituency.

  21. Clackmannanshire North contains Alva and Tillicoultry, which (along with Menstrie) stand somewhere between Dollar and Alloa on the socio-economic scale. I like Alva.

    For the Tories to be doing so well (even in a by-election) in such a seat bodes well for them.

    Disappointing for Labour: no progress is not enough progress.

    Ok for the SNP: they’re in a good position in Scotland, and if they can keep it that way, they can stay in power for a long time. (Perhaps too long for their long-term interests?)

  22. This sort of area is important for the Tories, because it’s exactly the sort of middle-class/lower middle-class/upper working-class area they need to win over in order to win 20+ seats in Scotland. They’re not there yet (or ever?) but this was a promising result for then.

  23. Anybody know how many postal votes there were? Apparently the SNP does really badly for postal votes. The weather was terrible on the day so any party relying on walk up voters would expect to underperform

  24. I wouldn’t have thought that true. It’s a well organised and funded machine there’s no excuse for not being able to sign their voters up to postal votes

  25. SNP ‘hold’ in Clacks Central although Slab had a narrow plurality in 2017 (not so good for them).

    Clackmannanshire Central By-Election, 1st Prefs;
    SNP – 40.9% (+2.6)
    Labour – 31.9% (-8.0)
    Con – 19.8% (+3.2)
    UKIP – 3.3% (+3.3)
    Green – 2.5% (-2.7)
    Lib Dem – 1.7% (+1.7)

    Turnout 34.7

    SNP elected at stage 6.

  26. Luke Graham is David Lidington new PPS.

  27. John Nicholson, who was MP for East Dunbartonshire in the 2015-17 parliament, has been selected as SNP candidate for this seat.

    I’m guessing Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh was thought to be too close to the now-disgraced Alex Salmond?

  28. You’re slipping into Lancs Observer territory there. Salmond may be a fat, arrogant, smug bastard with a face you could never tire of slapping, but he hasn’t been convicted of anything regarding the sexual assault and rape allegations. The Ahmed Sheikh creature wasn’t chosen probably because she’s a vacuous gobshite.

  29. Public figures cleared of crimes are judged extremely harshly in the court of public opinion – particularly alleged rapists (and even acquitted rape defendants like Ched Evans). Part of the problem is that rape conviction rates are unbelievably low, so not-guilty rape verdicts don’t gain the same level of public acceptance as most judgements. And even beyond that, he has to contend with stuff like his show on Putin TV (where TAS was a very frequent guest), which has done him no favours at all. Overall I think it’s fair to call him “disgraced”.

    Anyway, getting back to the seat in question, Nicholson was a well-respected MP and the sort you’d expect the SNP high command to want to keep around. Perhaps it speaks to the fact that they think East Dunbartonshire isn’t that favourable that he’s chosen to move to what’s, on paper, a much easier seat for them to take back.

  30. Tristan – PT is correct, but it actually relates to their expenses’ troughing and not the current proceedings.

  31. In Scotland, if the ABSNP voting patterns hold from last time it’s not difficult to see several parties both winning and losing seats in Scotland. This is because it is clearer this time who the main challenger to SNP is in a lot of seats.

    E.g.: Tories could lose Gordon and Ochil seats to SNP and Stirling a toss-up, whilst winning Inverness, Argyll & Bute and the two Ayrshire seats where there is still significant LD and Lab votes to squeeze.

  32. P.S. That wasn’t a prediction, it’s too soon for those!

  33. I feel the Tories will really struggle without Ruth Davidson.

    Go on then, I’ll leave myself hostage to fortune, here are my predictions:

    SNP 50 (everything not otherwise accounted for)
    Lib Dems 5 (hold the four they have, plus North East Fife)
    Con 3 (DCT, BRS, WAK)
    Lab 1 (Edinburgh South)

  34. “I feel the Tories will really struggle without Ruth Davidson.”

    Nah, 8 years is a long time to be leader especially when not in power. It was the right time for a fresh start / renewal, whilst also Ruth left when she was still well regarded so without damaging her successor’s chances of success. And they do have other talent.

    None of which is to say they won’t be trounced in GE2019, but if they do this won’t be the reason. Also the Scottish polls so far taken since Ruth resigned show Tories holding as they were (slightly up to be precise, but only a couple points – MOE stuff).

  35. Ochil & South Perthshire is shaping up to be a close two-way marginal between the Conservatives and the SNP alongside Angus and Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock.

    The SNP is on track to gain Stirling. Holding 12 seats in Scotland would represent a good result for the Conservatives.

  36. But Ruth really carved out a fresh image of the Scottish Conservatives and without her the party hasnt the same appeal. I think 12 seats would be remarkable. We might see a bounce in the polls for the tories in Scotland but the SNP look solid only hope for Tories is tactical voting imo

  37. I agree with Matt Wilson. I would be astonished if the Tories won twelve seats in Scotland. I can see the SNP approaching their 2015 performance (50+ seats) actually if they really knock it out the park.

  38. Currently, it looks like the SNP will take between 38-39% of the vote in Scotland. The Conservatives look set to take anywhere between 20-25% of the vote.

    The Conservatives have advanced on their position from 2017 in recent council by-elections held in Bridge of Don (Gordon constituency) and Haddington & Lammermuir (East Lothian constituency).

    Bear in mind that the Conservative vote is going to hold up better in the seats they currently hold because of tactical voters plus better-organised campaign infrastructure, whereas it is likely to collapse in Central Belt seats like Dunfermline, Edinburgh North & Leith and Linlithgow & Falkirk East.

    By my current estimates, it is feasible that the Conservatives can hold 12 out of 13 seats in Scotland.

  39. UNS is a poor guide for Scotland these days – unless SNP or another party knocks it out of the park, like Tristan says.

  40. The SNP are running a high-risk, high-reward* campaign by treating this as a dry-run for indyref2. You saw how they started their campaign – a naked independence rally, draped in an ocean of saltires. The reward for such an approach is that they could then demonstrate a mandate for indyref2 more strongly than if they had won a similar number of seats while majoring on their record in government in Holyrood. But I do feel the approach hampers their ability to win back some of those seats they lost two years ago, particularly to the Tories. They will motivate unionists to vote against them, tactically if necessary, and may put off their softer supporters, those who voted No in 2014 but are now undecided.

    *High-reward, that is, if you think independence would be “rewarding” for Scotland.

  41. Odd though this might seem to some, I believe a strong Brexit Party presence (i.e. candidature) in Scotland may hurt SNP as much as the Tories – to the gain of LDs and Labour – as about 1/3 of SNP 2015 voters voted for Brexit a year later.

    Obviously some may have left the SNP fold in GE2017, but there’s more scope for more of them to move/stay away now too if TBP are running in most seats, especially if they’re Eurosceptic ABTs.

    After all, whatever Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford try and make out, this election is more about the direction of Brexit than Indy.

    Obviously if SNP fire up Indy voters well enough to lift them in the polls then and there’s not many close seats after all, then this becomes somewhat of a moot point.

  42. @BT SAYS: Yes that is quite apparent from the European Parliamentary election results from this year, especially in Leave-leaning constituencies in the North East of Scotland like Moray, Banff & Buchan and Angus where the SNP have lost votes to the Brexit Party.

  43. There was actually a poll on snp tory marginals and it looked a complete white wash but things might have changed since then

  44. The thing about ABTs is that they have to contend with the fact that a vote for the SNP will be gleefully reinterpreted by the nats as a vote for independence (or at least another referendum), regardless of what they intended.

  45. “There was actually a poll on snp tory marginals and it looked a complete white wash but things might have changed since then”

    That’s interesting – do you have a link?

  46. Thanks.

  47. TAS is now a candidate for Alba.

    Can’t say I’m surprised, she’s always been Alex Salmond’s closest ally.

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)