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. Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is profiled in The Times. I hadn’t realised she was a Labour Party stalwart, then a Tory Candidate before defecting again to the SNP!

    Are people aware of this here?

  2. Yes, Lancs Observer. It’s one of the recurring memes of Scottish politics. As news goes its from the Jurassic Age.

  3. Ochil has repeatedly dissapointed the SNP (somewhat unexpectedly). I suspect that this time they might finally get lucky. But I don’t think it will be as big a win as the narrowness of the 2010 result might suggest.

    Narrow SNP Gain

  4. I’d guess a significant SNP majority here, as this is one of their most winnable seats. If the SNP can’t win here by a large margin (20% ahead of Labour at least), then they won’t win the 50 or so seats expected across Scotland tomorrow.

  5. Ahmed Sheikh winning here, perhaps the most glamorous SNP MP.

  6. It’s very easy to believe that many Labour seats were so safe in Scotland in 2010 that there is going to be a massive unwinding of some larger SNP majorities in 2020.
    I believed after 1997 that the Conservatives would win 50 to 100 seats at the following elections without too much effort. For example, Harrow West had a 17897 Conservative majority in 1992 and a Labour majority of 1240 in 1997. I had expected the Conservatives regain that seat by over 4000 in 2001 but Labour won by 6156.
    Looking at Scotland in 2020, the same thing could happen in many previously Labour seats that have become semi-marginal SNP seats like this one.
    Banks may have picked up some Blue Unionist tactical votes here because there is a large Tory vote here (but still sufficiently behind for many of them to vote tactically).
    The loss of much of the Blue Unionist tactical vote and GORDON BANKS incumbency (that boosted his majority from a few hundred to over 5000 between 2005 and 2010) and TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH’s first time incumbency could remove this constituency from its semi-marginal status.

  7. @ Dalek – I can’t see this seat returning to Labour in a hurry, but I doubt the blue unionist tactical vote will go to the nationalists, but perhaps switch back to the Tories or stick it out with Labour.

    The South Perthshire elements of the seat are largely conservative, going 65% No in the referendum. The South Perthshire side of the seat itself was within touching distance (approximately 400 votes in the 4 wards fully incorporated into the constituency) of going Conservative in the Scottish Parliament election 2007 – perhaps it even did go Conservative when considering the vote in Bankfoot.

    Clackmannanshire(53% No) is where Labour initially got it’s vote in this seat, turning the area into a Labour/SNP marginal. With both points considered it’s hard to imagine that these two very separated communities would stumble into voting Labour without Labour reaching out into a national recovery. I’d imagine the Perthshire side of the seat probably held up a similar Labour vote to the Clackmannanshire side of the seat, yet having a stronger Tory vote (possibly nearing 30%).

  8. is there evidence that the Perthshire parts of the seat were much more Unionist than the ret of Perth and Kinross? Also, South Perthshire is historically a very poor area for Labour and a decent one for the SNP. It’s one of those rural areas where Labour has never really been competitive, so I’d imagine that the SNP were comfortably ahead of Labour in both parts of the seat.

  9. @ Simon – agreed. I do think it was maybe 25% labour (much of this from Tort tactical voters)? With probably an SNP reaching 39%+.

    And yes the results for the 2007 Scottish Parliament in the area of Perthshire covered in the constituency had it knife edge close between the Tories and SNP: it’s hard to say exactly how it went though as the seat goes into part another electoral ward, at a guess Id say very ultra-marginally SNP.

    Milnathort went 70% No and there was a large No around Kinross. Perth and North Perthshire seat had a 57% No vote with the Perth/Kinross side of the Ochil seat having a 65% No: so yes the area is more unionist than the remainder of Perthshire. The city of Perth is quite a strong SNP area as the two northern wards in the city are very deprived, voting SNP. The Perth South ward is more affluent and suburban – making it more conservative. I think northern Perthshire is also very Conservative/Unionist, yet the coastal east (with commuter areas to Dundee) has historically been more nationalist, leaving it quite mixed.

    The Clackmannanshire side of the seat I imagine went well into 50% SNP., it has a 54% No. It’s been more working class/ex-Labour-now-SNP area.

  10. Well I’ve realised I was a little optimistic before about Perth: the town itself is a lot better for the SNP than rural Perthshire.

    On modern electoral boundaries a Perth constituency (which could hypothetically exist within the 2018 Review) would have a notional of roughly:

    SNP – 46%
    Conservative – 31%
    Labour – 16%
    Other – 7%

    I’ve constructed notionals for Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Moray, Perth and Kinross, Dundee, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Midlothian, East Lothian and Edinburgh if anyone has requests (alternatively check them out at the vote uk forum in “The Psephological Society” -> “2015 notional results (wards)” 🙂

  11. *and the Scottish Borders!

  12. Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is a symbol of what we should not have in politics. A former model, she knows exactly what she is doing. She has far too much press on the basis of her appearance.

  13. Is that not a bit off NTY? Do you judge male MPs on their appearance the same way?

    And I think the amount of press she gets is down to newspaper editors rather than her.

  14. @ NTY I’m not having a go at you & I appreciate all the hard work you put in on here and enjoy the fruits of your labours – I just think that comment’s a bit off.

  15. Thank you, my comment was probably a little rash but I just feel that Tasmina gets far too much press on the basis of her appearance, her Indian origin and her Tory past – rather than her actual policy. Is there any other reason why she is so popular? Versus someone with substance (such as Mari Black or Philipha Whitford).

    I would agree that there is the issue applies to men as well, although I can’t really think of any Scottish examples of this…

  16. Her Conservative past being seen as positive in the media for some reason, a “political butterfly”.

  17. I would suggest you’re pointing your ire in the wrong direction.

    Ever since the Euro 2014 elections, the press (in Scotland anyway) has been largely critical of Ahmed-Sheikh due to her flitting political allegiances. During last year’s election campaign, her Conservative past was most definitely advertised as a negative by a number of Scottish papers.

    It would lay the responsibility for her media appearances at the door of the SNP’s PR department, which recognises the value of having putting a glamorous (as glamorous as politicians get anyway) and on-cue female candidate of an ethnic minority before the cameras, rather than someone like Pete Wishart.

    Mhairi Black and Philippa Whiteford are probably being protected by the SNP’s PR department because of their political novice. There is also the case of John Nicholson, a confident, media-trained and gay Scottish MP who’s been thrust before the cameras as often as opportunity has allowed.

  18. According to my Scottish independence referendum (2014) notionals every single constituency seat to elect a unionist MSP other than Dumbarton had a No vote in excess of 60%.

    Below is a list of constituencies I have as going No at over 60%, with their respective constituency MSP’s party alignment displayed in brackets:
    70% NO: Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire [CON]
    68% NO: Aberdeenshire West [CON]
    68% NO: Dumfriesshire [CON]
    67% NO: Orkney [LIB]
    67% NO: Eastwood [CON]
    66% NO: Edinburgh Southern [LAB]
    65% NO: North East Fife [LIB]
    64% NO: Edinburgh Western [LIB]
    64% NO: Aberdeen South and North Kincardine [SNP]
    64% NO: Shetland [LIB]
    63% NO: East Lothian [LAB]
    63% NO: Galloway and West Dumfries [CON]
    63% NO: Edinburgh Pentlands [SNP]
    63% NO: Edinburgh Central [CON]
    62% NO: Perthshire South and Kinross-shire [SNP]
    61% NO: Ayr [CON]
    61% NO: Angus North and Mearns [SNP]
    60% NO: Clydesdale [SNP]

    Most constituencies to have a No vote over 60.0% have a Tory MSP (7 out of 18), followed by the SNP (5 out of 18). followed by the Liberal Democrats (4 out of 18), followed by Labour (2 out of 18).

    Realistically the Tories should be looking to eat away at the stubbornly SNP Aberdeen South and Edinburgh Pentlands constituencies. Perthshire South is obviously going to be a tough nut to crack until boundary change is implemented here – the Tories would have easily walked into a constituency based around “Perthshire West & Kinross-shire”, avoiding the City of Perth from the constituency completely to be substituted for the lush farmlands of north-west Perthshire. The Tories might be hard-pressed at the next Holyrood elections to find any constituency seat gains without a Labour recovery in Scotland, they might be challenged at holding their Edinburgh Central constituency should the Greens not stand here next time around.

  19. Had Perth & Kinross been organised into “Perthshire West and Kinross-shire” and “Perthshire East” (an arrangement which would have avoided splitting the city of Perth into two constituencies) Labour would have one extra MSP in Holyrood at the expense of the Scottish National Party, with Liz Smith finally gaining a constituency seat in Perth & Kinross.

    In a similar vein had the Tories won in Edinburgh Pentlands Labour’s Sarah Boyack (an unfortunate causality) would be sitting in Parliament at the expense of the SNP’s Gordon MacDonald.

  20. The problem with “good” boundaries for the Tories in Pentlands is that it would almost certainly damage Labour in South, the Lib Dems in Western and the Tories in Central.

  21. Ms Ahmed-Sheikh seems to have gotten into a row over Donald Trump’s attitudes towards LGBT issues:


    In fairness, the Speccie has a point – for all the minority groups Trump has disparaged, gays are not one of them as far as I can think, and his stance on gay marriage makes him positively progressive by US Republican standards.

  22. However his running mate (and VP-elect) Mike Pence is reportedly one of the most anti-LGBT politicians in the US today.

  23. At the risk of sounding partisan (I’ll let myself off just this once!) I am consistently surprised that this particular SNP MP is put forward consistently to appear on QT/This Week/Daily Politics etc. She always seems very, very lightweight to me.

  24. I suspect it’s because she ticks a number of BBC quota boxes.

  25. Scottish ex-Tories are hardly an underrepresented minority.

  26. Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is facing court action that some reports suggest (I’m no expert on this, so I don’t know how realistic this is) could result in her being declared bankrupt.

    Under the Bankruptcy Act 1883 an MP declared bankrupt is suspended from the House until they are discharged from bankruptcy. If six months passes the seat is vacated and there is a by-election.

  27. Politician clamouring for higher taxes on honest citizens about to be bankrupted for non-payment of taxes, who’da thunk it.

  28. Interesting. In the event of a by-election the Conservatives will be looking to move into second place here.

  29. Doubt there will be to be honest. But just goes to show how hypocritical some of these MPs are, the lawyers especially. On Question Time a few weeks ago Sheikh was getting into the standard rant about rich multinationals not paying their taxes….to hysterical applause from the audience. Do they not realise they are being played for fools.

  30. Jack, since 2004 bankruptcy no longer automatically disqualifies a person from serving as an MP (or MSP, MEP, local councillor etc).

    They will only be disqualified if additional restrictions are placed upon them by their trustee in bankruptcy, which only happens in cases of recklessness or wrongdoing (for example, if they failed to maintain proper accounts resulting in a large underpayment of taxes). I don’t know how these restrictions work under Scottish bankruptcy law, but in England they are imposed in only about 1% of cases.

  31. The SNP are total hypocrites, I sympathise with a lot of what they say but I can never take them seriously cos I know its not about social justice its about Independence. If in some hypothetical world the best path to independence would be to paint the British government as a bunch of commies you can guarantee the SNP would all be arch Thatcherites promising to turn Scotland into small state, anarcho capitalist free for all.

  32. Apologies Jack, I have just looked it up and the 2004 changes don’t apply in Scotland. Therefore an MP going bankrupt in Scotland would indeed be suspended, although one in England wouldn’t be.

  33. The SNP contains all sorts of people, from frankly crypto-fascists to near-communists and including plenty of opportunists in between. In some respects, they are very similar to the weird coalition that is the Lib Dems.

  34. It looks like the No vote at the 2014 Scottish independence referendum in Ochil & South Perthshire was 60% No, with Perth & North Perthshire going 57% No.

  35. Looking at last week’s local election results on First Preferences for all candidates the Conservatives got 15,559 votes and the SNP got 13,745 votes.

    Obviously the Conservative vote is at its strongest in South Perthshire but they actually won a seat in every Clackmannshire ward last week.

    It looks one to watch

  36. The Conservatives also topped the poll in Clackmannanshire East.

  37. I think this could be a Con gain, most likely SNP held by 5-7%.
    I am pretty convinced the SNP share will drop to not much above 40pc nationwide.

    Probably something like this
    *SNP 39% -7%
    Con 32% +11
    Lab 25% -3
    LD 4% +1

  38. That’s interesting: I suppose that, if the Tories are having a general revival in Scotland, Dollar would be the sort of place where they’d make the most headway.

  39. * or so I’d expect. Dollar is a Perthshire town that got lost on the other side of Ochils.

  40. If polls remain steady in Scotland, this should be a Tory gain come June 8th.

  41. I estimated that this constituency would have been Tory until 1992. It is essentially the old Perth & Kinross constituency with the wee county of Clackmannanshire swapped for the City of Perth.

    TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH will appeal to Tory voters here as an former Tory herself but I do see the Conservatives beating Labour and giving her a run for her money.

  42. I estimated that this constituency would have been Tory until 1992.

    SNP 1992 to 1997 and since 2015 and Labour 1997 to 2015.

    It is essentially the old Perth & Kinross constituency with the wee county of Clackmannanshire swapped for the City of Perth.

    TASMINA AHMED-SHEIKH will appeal to Tory voters here as an former Tory herself but I do see the Conservatives beating Labour and giving her a run for her money.

  43. @ Dalek – it’s more similar to the old Perth constituency from 1997-2005, only a wee bit better for Labour and a wee bit worse for the Conservatives.

  44. Tasmina was also Labour at one time. She only needs to cross the floor to the Lib Dems to complete the set.

  45. Here’s my prediction for June 8th:

    SNP 40% down 6%
    Cons 37% up 16%
    Labour 19% down 9%

    I think the Tories will just fail to take the seat, unless the SNP vote really starts to crumble, and this looks unlikely given the fairly strong showing of the SNP at the local elections. I think you’re also looking at a steep drop in the Labour vote.

  46. I don’t want to be a Tory Gloy Plopwell so John do you really think it’ll be a 16% rise?

  47. I think people are giving Tasmina Ahmed Skeikh a bit too much credit, just watch any (regular) televised appearance of her. The words you are looking for are “car crash”.

  48. She has an OBE?!

    Oh bl*ody ‘ell

  49. I though you were Gloy Plopwell….James?

  50. Tasmina is under invistigation by the Law Society of Scotland.


    On another note, I can’t believe that areas like Alloa and Clackmannan have voted for Tory councillors.

    This could be a potentially interesting seat to watch.

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