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. Well according to today’s Scottish poll, every single seat apart from one in Scotland will go SNP. I know you should take it with a pretty damn big pinch of salt but it looks to me as if all Labour seats with a majority of anything less than 15% over the SNP are doomed.

  2. Well according to today’s Scottish poll, every single seat apart from one in Scotland will go SNP. I know you should take it with a pretty damn big pinch of salt but it looks to me as if all Labour seats with a majority of anything less than 15% over the SNP are doomed.

    20% a liberal democrat seat.

    The tories might not even have a Scottish seat come 2015 despite a swing in favour of them over Labour.

    Labour by the way, are 19 points down up there.

  3. But it won’t be a UNS.

    The biggest SNP swings will probably come in working class areas where they are miles behind Labour. The more middle class and rural areas will see much lower swings and quite likely some recovery of the Tories too.

    This seat is an uneasy combination of working class Clackmannan and genteel Perthshire, so it’s not easy to forecast. The Tories may sap some of the SNP vote in Kinross & Perthshire whilst the SNP take from Labour in Clackmannan. It’s plausible that Labour could narrowly hang on here whilst suffering massive swings against them in Glasgow.

  4. Today’s Scottish poll, if remotely accurate, is catastrophic for Labour. I am beginning to think Labour might actually struggle to match their 2010 UK vote share next year.

  5. Alan Fernydeck

    Awesome prediction!! I reckon it will be more like 40% BNP, 30% Green Party, 20% British Communists, 7% Con and 2% Lab.

  6. Dollar is the more Conservative part of Clackmannanshire….The rest of the wee county is solid Lab/SNP.

    Conservatives would have out polled Labour in Ochil & South Perthshire in 1992. It’s the 1983 to 1997 Perth & Kinross with Perth City swapped for Clackmannanshire. While there is a concentration of Tories in Dollar there are also many Labour voters in parts of Perth.

  7. I think this seems likely to be an easy pickup for the SNP. Given that polling has repeatedly put them 20-odd percent ahead of Labour across Scotland, and the seat was a marginal last time round when Labour was 25% ahead nationally, it seems unlikely that this will be close. Even if you accept that Labour will get back to level pegging nationally, this should be a 5000+ majority for the SNP.

  8. The tricky thing about Scotland right now is that while it’s clear the SNP are going to give Labour a bloody nose, it’s far too early to say with any credibility at all how many SNP gains that bloody nose will translate into. The only two things that can be said with certainty is that the SNP are not going to win every mainland Scottish seat, but on the other hand their polling lead is surely too large and stable for them to fail to make a single gain from Labour.

    This seat is therefore an interesting one. It was an ultra-marginal in 2005 yet Labour had a double figure percentage majority on the same boundaries in 2010, albeit aided by a double-incumbency boost due to newcomer Banks edging out a sitting SNP MP in 2005.

    Let’s say the SNP were to take 20 seats in May. The actual figure may be dramatically different in either direction, but I pick that number because it was the figure that Salmond felt would give his party serious Westminster clout in 2010, and on current polling 20 seats might well equate to the balance of power in 2015. As HH says, the swing in Scotland certainly won’t be uniform, to such an extent that it’s quite plausible that this might not be one of those 20.

  9. It’s worth noting that Clackmannanshire is one of the areas that’s being primed for fracking. By all accounts the local Yes group is already transforming to take it on as one of its big issues, alongside Devo Max and anti-poverty drives, and the SNP are likely to play the issue for all it’s worth.

    I can’t see the SNP failing to take this with a sizable majority.

  10. Hertfordshire has no potential for fracking, so I can’t be accused of nimbyism here: I’m anti-fracking on the basis that the cost-benefit analysis does not currently justify it – we’re not sure of the geological impact of fracking and therefore the potential economic downsides, and in any case why increase the supply of fossil fuels when sitting on reserves of a more profitable form?

    But I love the irony of the very same people who argue that an independent oil-driven Scotland will make Qatar look poor suddenly jumping on the environmentalist bandwagon to win votes. When it comes to political opportunism the SNP are every bit as bad as the main Westminster parties. Sadly it works (and I say that in relation to the SNP and those other parties equally).

  11. The SNP have been masters of bandwagoning over the past 20 years, and that kind of populism is what’s cemented their place in Scottish politics. In a way, it’s hard to balance Scotland’s resources with a centre-left image. A similar inconsistency occurs with the armed forces. The SNP try to promote Scotland as a peace-loving country, but we have a disproportionate number of people who join the forces. I could never quite grasp what wr were going to do with the military bases we were hellbent on keeping as an independent country, while staying out of any kind of conflict.

    The Greens and the SSP are at least consistent in their ideals. I imagine the Greens would have been happy enough scrapping Coulport and Lossiemouth altogether, despite folk getting upset. Likewise, the SSP seem quite happy for the oil industry to develop, preferably through nationalization, without having to bed with the ecologist movement. The SSP position may well have become more blurred with their approchement to the Greens/SNP, but it’s a party you could usually imagine supporting fracking for the potential benefits to Scottish industry.

    I think it’s safe to say, however, that the SNP’s opportunism on fracking will gain currrency with the electorate in the central belt.

  12. Why was this constituency called Ochil & South Perthshire?

    Ochil was a clever name for a three authority cross border constituency that included the Eastern part of Stirling (including Stirling University and The Wallace Monument), the historical county of Perthshire and centred on Clackmannanshire.

    All these areas were under the Ochil mountains…and I assume the clever name is the equivalent of The Wrekin.

    However, the East Stirling urban area was removed and so to was much of the impact of Ochil is much less.

    I think it should have been called Clackmannanshire & South Perthshire.

  13. The Clackmannanshire half of the seat seems to me to be reasonable ground for the SNP. It was marginally more pro-Yes than the country as a whole, and is more or less a straight fight between Labour and the SNP. There’s no reason to assume that, if there is a big swing from Labour to the SNP, an area like Clackmannanshire would be exempt from that. The South Perthshire part of the constituency is likely to be more favourable to the SNP than Labour – it’s historically been an SNP/Tory area. I just can’t see why people think that, if there is a significant SNP surge, that this area would be passed by to the extent that the SNP might not take the seat.

  14. I note that in only 3 of Labour’s 40 Scottish seats are the SNP less than 20% behind. I do not for one moment doubt Labour has some serious problems in Scotland but I think some perspective is necessary.

  15. Tory is right.. maybe the SNP are gearing themselves up for another night of disappointment… won’t be the first time.. won’t be the last

  16. They won’t be disappointed where they are fighting the Lib Dems….Gordon, Inverness, Argyll, perhaps Caithness and/or Fife NE on a really good night for them. Labour seats are a totally different ball game and will depend on many things. There could be a big swing a bit like the university seats for the Lib Dems in 2005 – equally they could get a raft of good second places but win very few.

  17. Tory,

    I note that in only 3 of Labour’s 40 Scottish seats are the SNP less than 20% behind. I do not for one moment doubt Labour has some serious problems in Scotland but I think some perspective is necessary.

    Yes, I think i and others posted extensively on this when news of the labour meltdown in scotland came out about a month ago…can’t remember where…think it was in the falkirk thread

  18. There is no doubt however that if at least some (not quite all) of the recent polling evidence actually comes to fruition in Scotland, Labour would lose hatfuls of seats. My educated guess at the moment is 12 losses to the SNP & 13 if you count Falkirk. I could of course be totally wrong; we need some more complete polling evidence closer to the election.

  19. In 1997 the swing from Con to Lab was 10% but that increased to nearly 20% in the former Middlesex part of Greater London. If the SNP do sustain a comfortable lead over Labour for what is only the next 6 months any Labour constituency that has an SNP MSP must be at risk.

  20. SNP 17500
    Lab 17000
    Con 12000
    LD 3000

  21. Labour are entirely dependent on Clackmannanshire in this seat, where they took 5,700 more votes than the SNP in 2010 (seat majority of 5187).

    Council results would suggest the SNP have moved slightly ahead in the Clackmannanshire wards since 2010, so even if they were level, the SNP should win the seat.

    Almost half of the Lib Dem vote in the seat seems to be restricted to Kinross-shire. Looking at the council elections, most of this seemed to transfer to independents (and some to Tory), so it will be interesting to see where the LD vote goes.

  22. Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh has been selected here for the SNP according to the Daily Record.

    I heard she went for the nomination for Falkrik and Linlithgow & East Falkirk too.

    She has an interesting political history, she’s based in Glasgow who was a member of the Labour party, switched the the Conservatives and stood as a candidate for them and stood in last years Euro elections narrowly losing out to UKIP for the final seat.

    It will be interesting to see how she will go down with the good people of Clackmannanshire and South Perthshire.

    Annebelle Ewing’s number of the votes stayed pretty static in the 2 times she stood in 2005 and 2010.

    I wonder if Tory voters will vote tactically to dislodge Banks or vote for him to the SNP out?

  23. As a bit of trivia, her father Mo Rizvi was the first Asian councillor elected in Scotland and stood for Edinburgh Leith in the 1992 general election narrowly finishing 3rd behind. He stood as a Conservative in all elections.

  24. He represented New Town/ Stockbridge but lost that ward for the first time to Labour in 1994.

  25. Will Labour use TA-S’s past against her?

    Could backfire…while it may have some resonance in industrial Clackmannanshire it may be to her benefit in Dollar (rural Clackmannanshire ), Kinross-shire and South Perthshire.

  26. The Labour Party and the Daily Record have already started to use her past against her on social media. In fact, I would suspect the digging started a long time ago when it was clear that TAS would be a candidate in one of the seats.

    I would also suspect that this is one of the reasons that she will have been encouraged to stand for one of the “safer” gains, as she also lost the nomination in Falkirk and was in contention in Linlithgow, despite being from Glasgow.

    I don’t think Labour or the Daily Record will expect to have any chance of holding the seat, but they will hope to do damage to the SNP’s national image by portraying them as Tartan Tories.

  27. Obvious troll is obvious.

  28. Moi?

    I don’t think there’s anything particularly shocking about suggesting a political party and a newspaper that supports that political party having the same agenda. In today’s climate, it is largely uncommon for a political party to explicitly slate opposition candidates. This is normally achieved through sympathetic newspapers.

    This is also the case the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph for their parties of preference in the rest of the UK. And Indeed now The National in Scotland for the SNP.

    Nor is there anything new in a Party’s PR chief aligning strategy with a sympathetic newspaper.

  29. No, not yours. A rather unconstructive post from a very aristocratic sounding chap was deleted.

  30. SNP: 18000
    Lab: 17800
    Con: 10000

  31. SNP Win Likelihood: 57%
    Lab Win Likelihood: 41%
    Con Win Likelihood: 2%

  32. I would have given the Cons 0% if it were not for their choice of candidate. If the Tory’s get the massive boost their senior figures all seem to be expecting then they might get within three thousand votes of winning.

  33. Are you just ignoring the opinion polling, or do you think there will be a huge shift from the SNP to Labour before May? If so, why?

  34. No, I think that the SNP surge in this seat is not necessarily as secure as it seems. There are a lot of new voters in this seat and a lot of uncertain voters – the churn in this seat is very large. I think Banks’s incumbency is quite an advantage for Labour whilst SNP’s candidate is quite a disadvantage for them. The novelty of SNP will not necessarily last when voters consider the candidates and the effects of their vote.

  35. Ladbrokes odds today SNP 1/7 on to win.I think this candidate in this seat is a big advantage for the SNP on basis of her TV performances.

  36. Clackmannanshire
    Con 2328 of 25618 = 9.1%

    Kinross & South Perthshire
    Con 8014 of 24858 = 32.2%

    Clackmannanshire East (Dollar)
    Con 1007 of 3802 = 26.5%

    Rest of Clackmannanshire (omitting East)
    Con 1321 of 21816 = 6.1%

  37. Identifying TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH as a ex-Tory may help Labour in urban Clackmannanshire but could backfire in Kinross, South Perthshire and rural East Clackmannanshire.

  38. SNP: 18200
    Labour: 18000
    Conservative: 9800
    Lib Dem: 2500
    Green: 1500
    UKIP: 1500
    SNP Maj: 200

  39. Horseshit. If the SNP do as badly as that they’ll win virtually nothing from Labour, when all the evidence is that they’ll win 20-30 seats.

  40. “Horseshit. If the SNP do as badly as that they’ll win virtually nothing from Labour, when all the evidence is that they’ll win 20-30 seats.”

    Why……Clackmannanshire and Perthshire & Kinross both voted NO?

    I could see the SNP holding some of their existing NO/ UNIONIST majority seats with majorities not much greater than 2010 but taking YES majority seats with by wider margins.

    I think that the SNP will struggle in the Perthshire & Kinross parts of this constituency where there are lots of NO voters.

  41. A 5% swing compared to a 2010 election where Labour performed out of their skins and the SNP were tied with Lib Dems and Conservatives nationwide does seem a little bit frugal.

    You mention the referendum result, but you have the SNP on around 35%, when Clackmannanshire, which constututes most of the seat, was 46.2% Yes. Even Perth & Kinross was at 39.8%.

  42. Perth & Kinross has historically been much better for the SNP than for Labour. I’d imagine that, in the past, it’s been the Clackmannanshire part of the seat that’s got Labour over the line here. Now, I suspect that the SNP will be comfortably ahead of Labour in both parts of the seat.

  43. I think it’s too close to call.

    I lived in Clackmannanshire for six years and in the 2005 election, the former Labour MP retired and Gordon Banks stood for the seat. There was much talk at the time as to whether the SNP would gain the seat (Clacks Council is SNP; South Perthshire is heavily dominated by the SNP, long-serving Labour MP) and I was absolutely inundated with election material – I bet it’s the same this time! It was touted as a genuinely three horse race, although I bet the Tories don’t get too many votes in the Hillfoots of the Ochils where I stayed (except Dollar as other people have noted, which is much better off generally than Alva and Tillicoultry).

  44. I wonder if Labour are going to make a big deal that the SNP candidate used to be a Conservative candidate, Labour member and doesn’t (as far as I’m aware) have any local connections with the seat?

    I think this is probably the only way that Lab can hold onto this seat!

  45. @Pump Action – there’s already been tactics of that in the Labour-supporting Daily Record.

    I’m not sure how much influence that sort of campaigning actually has on voters – especially now the public are much more cynical and less trusting of the media post-hacking scandal.

  46. @ St. Stevie. I think the “media’s” influence only makes a difference if the result is close. I think her lack of widely known local connections would probably do more harm to her than being a former Conservative Party member and candidate.

  47. This is the best result that Jim Murphy could realistically hope for.

    Labour 40
    SNP 12
    LD 4
    Con 3

    Lab Gain from LD (2)

    East Dunbartonshire
    Edinburgh West

    Con Gain from LD (2)

    Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine

    SNP Gain from Lab (3)

    Dundee West
    Ochil & South Perthshire

    SNP Gain from LD (3)

    Argyll & Bute
    Fife North East

    It could be achieved with Labour and the SNP polling equal votes but would still see a very large number of Labour where the SNP were only piped at the post.

    The scenario would be that Jim Murphy’s campaign is a success and tens of thousands of YES voters have second thoughts as the put their pencil to the ballot paper in the polling booth.

  48. I think that’s senario is very unlikely to happen now. I’d be surprised if Labour can hold on to more than 15 Scottish seats.

    And it could be that fact alone which allows the Tories to become the largest party, this giving a minority Labour government even less credibility.

  49. @ Adam: I would suggest that it’s possible for Labour to achieve 30% of the vote at the most. If they can do this, then Jim Murphy can claim some form of “victory” over the SNP assuming that the Greens can get their upper monthly average of 5% leaving the SNP with 36% of the vote (assuming UKIP are able to receive 5% of the vote and convince voters from both sides of the referendum to vote for them – which is possible to an extent, as shown by the % Scots who are opposed to increased immigration).

    By achieving 30% of the vote the election results would look alot more like what we are used to in Scotland as opposed to a reflection of the referendum. I applied these figures to Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polls, and surprisingly seat changes mirrored that of electoral calculus.

    Based off of the electoral calculus prediction Labour would hold 26 seats, the Conservatives would gain 1 seat to give them 2 seats, the LD’s would keep 2 seats and the SNP would gain 23 seats giving them 29 seats in total.

    (Prediction breakdown here – http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/cgi-bin/usercode.py?SCOTCON=18&SCOTLAB=30&SCOTLIB=6&SCOTNAT=36&SCOTUKIP=5&SCOTGreen=5&type=scotland&display=AllMajoritySorted&regorseat=%28none%29&boundary=2010)

    The reason why I believe Labour could achieve 30% of the vote is as their monthly average for the end of September (after referendum) was 29%: this has declined since however this may be due to a bias existing within opinion polls brought on by increased political activism among Yes voters. The SNP had an average of 38% – but if we assume that the Greens gain 2% of this (as some polls suggest) then 36% is possible. UKIP has averaged at 4% since the referendum and 5% in December, the Tories have averaged at 17% and have occasionally averaged at 18% when excluding Lord Ashcroft polls and in certain 15 day periods. Generally, opinion poll results tend to provide lower results for less progressive parties in elections, which might again partly explain a surge in support for the SNP (which might in fact simply be bias in opinion polls).

  50. Although I suspect the SNP are probably front runners for this seat, I still wouldn’t be surprised a narrow Lab hold.

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