East Renfrewshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 12465 (22%)
Labour: 19295 (34%)
Lib Dem: 1069 (1.9%)
SNP: 23013 (40.6%)
UKIP: 888 (1.6%)
MAJORITY: 3718 (6.6%)

Category: Marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, West. The whole of the East Renfrewshire council area.

Main population centres: Barrhead, Clarkston, Busby, Eaglesham, Giffnock, Newton Mearns.

Profile: A outer suburbs of the Glasgow conurbanation and the rural hinterland to the south-west of Glasgow. This is an affluent, middle-class commuter area with a high proportion of owner-occupiers and professionals. Clarkston used to be a dry area until planning permission for the first pub in the area was given in 2006. Renfrewshire East has the largest Jewish population of any seat in Scotland, with almost half of Scotland`s Jewish population living in the area.

Politics: Anywhere outside Scotland this would probably be a safe Conservative seat, and up until 1997 it was one of the safest Conservative seats in Scotland. Scotland is no country for Conservatives though, it fell to Labour in 1997 under Jim Murphy. Murphy rose to the Labour cabinet and in opposition took on the doomed role of Scottish Labour leader following the 2014 referendum, losing his own seat in the subsequent SNP landslide.

Current MP
KIRSTEN OSWALD (SNP) Educated at Glasgow University. Former HR professional. First elected as MP for Renfrewshire East in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 15567 (30%)
Lab: 25987 (51%)
LDem: 4720 (9%)
SNP: 4535 (9%)
Oth: 372 (1%)
MAJ: 10420 (20%)
Con: 14158 (30%)
Lab: 20815 (44%)
LDem: 8659 (18%)
SNP: 3245 (7%)
Oth: 528 (1%)
MAJ: 6657 (14%)
Con: 13895 (29%)
Lab: 23036 (48%)
LDem: 6239 (13%)
SNP: 4137 (9%)
Oth: 1061 (2%)
MAJ: 9141 (19%)
Con: 17530 (34%)
Lab: 20766 (40%)
LDem: 6110 (12%)
SNP: 6826 (13%)
Oth: 1003 (2%)
MAJ: 3236 (6%)

2015 Candidates
DAVID MONTGOMERY (Conservative) Educated at Bearsden Academy and Glasgow University. Medical Director and surgeon.
JIM MURPHY (Labour) Born 1967, Glasgow. Educated at Milnerton High School, South Africa and Strathclyde University. President of the NUS. MP for Eastwood 1997 to 2015. PPS to Helen Liddell 2001-02, Government Whip 2002-2005, Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office 2005-06, Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform 2006-07, Minister of State for Europe 2007-08, Secretary of State for Scotland 2008-10. Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland 2010, Shadow Defence Secretary 2010-2013. Shadow International Development Secretary 2013-2014. Leader of the Scottish Labour party 2015.
GRAEME COWIE (Liberal Democrat)
KIRSTEN OSWALD (SNP) Educated at Glasgow University. HR professional.
Comments - 682 Responses on “Renfrewshire East”
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  1. It’s amazing how in the space of 4 election cycles this has gone from one the safest Tory seats in the UK (not just Scotland) to one of the safest Labour seats. Until the Tories can win a seat like this back they’ll remain dead in the water as a political force in Scotland.

  2. Big Pump is right. I think the Tory decline in Scotland started a long time ago but was slower until the poll tax. After that it went into complete freefall.

    I cannot see the Tories winning back support in Scotland any time soon under this government and it will take a complete turnaround to win this seat. Our best hope is holding onto the one seat that we do have.

  3. The decline began in 1959. It wasn’t really until after 1992 – when we gained Aberdeen South – that we went into complete freefall in Scotland.
    This was once the seat of Betty Harvie Anderson, the first woman to sit in the Speaker’s Chair as Deputy Speaker.

  4. Another milestone was 1974- when the SNP entered the fray. Thereafter, I don’t we won many Scottish seats with >50% of the vote- not even in 1979 and 1983 if my memory serves me well.

  5. *I don’t think we won many Scottish seats…

  6. The last time the Tories took over 50% in a Scottish seat was Tayside North in 1983 with 51.04%. (It was the only seat in Scotland where they polled over 50% that year).

  7. Andy JS- thanks for those statistics, which tell their own story. I thought the Tories might have exceeded 50% in Eastwood in 1983 but not so- only 46.6%.

  8. This was actually a target seat for Labour in 1992, as the Conservative majority was 6000 over the SDP and 7000 over Labour. This seat was as marginal in 1992 as Blackpool South.

    The swing from Labour to Conservative in 1992 was over 4%, one of the largest counter swings in 1992 and seems to have been down to the collapse of a more centre right SDP vote.

    The swing from Conservative to Labour between 1987 and 1997 (ignoring 1992) was some 10% – not huge.

    Most of the relative swing to Labour has occurred in successive elections; 2001, 2005 and 2010 (2005 and 2010 in particular). It is in these years that the constituency has really swing to the left (hidden against national swings to the Conservatives).

  9. Warrington North, West Bromwich West, Sunderland Central, Bassetlaw, Stockton North, Stoke-on-Trent Central, West Bromwich East, Wythenshawe & Sale East, Wolverhampton South East are all now better prospects for the Conservatives than East Renfrewshire.

    Ealing North has also move subtaintially to the left since 1987. It has a Conservative majority of over 15000 that year (on similar boundaries as today). The 15000 majority was not normal, as it had been a notional Conservative gain from Labour in 1983.

  10. Ealing North is a former high-swing seat which may – just may – have settled down into a blameless safer Labour existence. The result in 1987 was the worst for Labour in the entire country, but the swing back in 1992 was one of the very highest too. IIRC the only larger ones were in Mansfield & Tottenham (which of course were & are Labour seats). Peter’s point is a very interesting one actually, but whereas I can see the possibility of the Conservatives winning here again one day, I can’t see Warrington N, Stockton N, Stoke Central, Wythenshawe or Wolverhampton SE ever voting Conservative in a general election, and the others are nearly as unlikely. Bassetlaw & Stoke Central have been continuously Labour since 1935.

  11. Ealing North has experienced major demographic chnage since 1992.

    Of Dalek’s list only Bassetlaw should be a better target for the Conservatives than East Renfrewshire.

  12. I think the Tories should stop hankering back to old victories and accept that as long as Murphy is standing they’re not taking this seat back. They could then stop wasting their money and put it into areas where they actual have a chance at the moment, such as Aberdeenshire West and the Tayside seats (and holding DCT).

  13. Richard Cook had been re-selected for the Conservatives here by this time in the last parliament. Relecting of the Conservatives Clydeside and Merseyside declines, on paper this constituency is safer for Labour than Sefton Central but the Conservatives have performed better here in local elections. I would not be surprised if Labour won in Sefton Central by a larger margin.

  14. This constituency showed the strongest counter swing against Labour anywhere in the UK in local elections during the 2010 – 2015 parliament…….some 9.5%.

    Labour 31.1% – 19.7%
    Conservative 29.7% – 0.7%
    SNP 19.8% +10.9%
    Independent 14.9% +14.9%
    Lib Dem 3.4% – 5.5%
    Green 0.9% + 0.9%

    As the East Renfrewshire Council area includes the entire East Renfrewshire Westminster constituency, the Conservatives will have been ahead in the Eastwood Holyrood Constituency that excludes ‘Barrhead Ward’ and the more Labour half of ‘Neilston, Uplawmoor and Newton Mearns North Ward’…(ie Neilston and Uplawmoor).

    I don’t think that this would see Jim Murphy losing in 2015 but it could indicate that his majority could fall back to around 6500 (as per 2005).

    Were it not for Jim Murphy who has become as popular as Allan Stewart, this constituency would be alot more competitive.

  15. There has been a 4% swing from Con to Lab between 2007 and 2012 locals.

  16. Yes….and Labour gained 1 seat and became the largest party as a rrsult but thats compairing the mid term of a Lab gov to the mid term of a Con Lib gov where the swings between the two would normally be huge…15 to 20%….to extreem results.

    That is what would be expected in somewhere like Hastings.

    A 4% swing to Labour against 15-20% swings to Labour elsewhere means the constituency is moving relatively away from Labour, though not enough to threaten Jim Murphy….only to see his majority fall back to 6000 – 7000 in 2015.

    In other constituencies people have compaired the most recent mid term elections with 2010.

  17. That is postive news for the Tories. We really do need a fresh approach to Scotland. So many Scottish seats have swung to Labour purely based on the fact that the Scots feel the Tories are for posh English people. We have not done enough to tackle this idea and, rightly so, Labour play on it.

    I think we’ll have a better chance in 2020 of gaining a couple extra seats in Scotland but I think for now we should concentrate on holding the one we do have.

  18. I am not sure the seat is relatively moving to the Tories rather than they have costantly underperformed in the last decade given the demographic.

    I do not disagree with your outcome as 2010 was a good year for SLAB overall and so I can’t see them improving.

  19. Not for a minute suggesting that Jim Murphy will lose but only that the local election results would suggest that his majority would fall back to 6000 – 7000 instead of increasing to 12000 – 14000, which would be Labour’s expectation in a constituency with a majority of 10500.

    I agree that a 6000 – 7000 is still a rubbish result for the Tories in a set of this composition, but it would be a lesser rubbish result for the Tories than 2010.

  20. Although the Tories don’t do as well here as they used to (to put it mildly), it may be that the fundamentally conservative nature of the seat will express itself in a very high No vote in the independence referendum.

  21. ‘I agree that a 6000 – 7000 is still a rubbish result for the Tories in a set of this composition, but it would be a lesser rubbish result for the Tories than 2010’

    It’s utterly abysmal in a seat where the Tories ought to be dominant

    I do wonder how many Tory MP’s will defy the party leadership and argue for a ‘Yes’ vote come the time of the referedum, fully aware of the electoral rewards on offer for the Tories if Scotland were to breakaway from the UK

    More than a few I would suspect

  22. Why will the vast majority of Tory MPs have any opportunity to make a recommendation….aside from their one MP in Scotland and the few others who are Scottish.

    My expectation is that most will keep out of the debate.

  23. That is a funny thing for Tim to have said. Almost as if he was trying to project something negative unto the Conservative party, whilst lacking any substance whatsoever.

  24. It’s interesting that part of the Tories’s unpopularity in Scotland from about 1984 onwards were to do with rates.
    A lot more has happened since of course.

  25. “That is a funny thing for Tim to have said. Almost as if he was trying to project something negative unto the Conservative party, whilst lacking any substance whatsoever.’

    When you look at the maths a Westminster Parliament without Scottish MPs would be a much more Conservative one, so there must be Tory MPs who would support the notion of scottish independence on that basis, and that basis alone

    taking scotland out of the equation would massively boost tory political fortunes

    The fact that the Tories perform so badly in a seat like this just underlines how they have paled into almost insignificance in scottish politics

    i know plenty of Tory voters who want the Scotts to vote ‘yes’ in the upcoming referendum – many of whom would like wales to follow suit, and I would have thought there would be plenty of MPs who would think that way too

    If they don’t I’d be surprised

  26. Breaking up the UK is not something we could possibly do as it is wrong. There is a case for limiting what they can vote on, and seeing if we can win some more seats.

  27. Tim, this isn’t exactly the first time that the tories have taken a particular position on a constitutional issue when parliamentary mathematics would suggest it was beneficial to take an alternative view.

  28. Tim just makes these assumptions without any real evidence.
    Everybody knows the Conservatives are weak in Scotland – but the idea that we could cynically break up the UK for self interest is actually quite insulting.

    My opposition to PR is also based on principle – I think it leads to bad Government and gives a very excessive amount of power to bad losers,

  29. To be honest it’s no more or less that I expect from our Tim,

    Of the big three the Conservatives are the only one that are unreservedly for the country staying together. However with no evidence whatsoever he’s on here spouting that many are chomping at the bit to see Scotland leave.

  30. One of the fundamental values of the Conservative Party is to conserve all that is good about the whole of the United Kingdom. While we may be failing in some areas it would be wrong for a true Conservative MP to want Scotland to go it alone purely for electoral purposes.

    I am in favour of cutting the number of Westminster seats in Scotland to no more than 15 and the same for Wales but I would not want a separate Scotland.

  31. You just can’t do something like that. Either you have a properly constituted parliamentary constituency with a Member of Parliament or you don’t.

  32. Well it is a potential answer to the west lothian question. As low as 15 may be excessive for Scotland though.

  33. In the days of Stormont, NI was under-represented at Westminster. But cutting Scottish seats to 15 seems perhaps a bit drastic.

  34. Or as low as we can get away with, the current seat allocation for Scotland is far too high considering they have their own parliament now.

  35. How about just DC&T? 🙂

  36. “You just can’t do something like that. Either you have a properly constituted parliamentary constituency with a Member of Parliament or you don’t.”

    In the absence of either an Engish parliament or regional assembles for the 9 English regions, what would be wrong with days of English business in the House of Commons where MP’s from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are excluded?

    The Conservatives won in England by a landslide in 2010 winning 298 seats to Labours 191, the Lib Dems 43 and the Greens 1. That’s a 63 seat majority.

  37. @RobberButton – “Of the big three the Conservatives are the only one that are unreservedly for the country staying together.”

    That’s not actually true, now is it? Care to point me to where the Lib Dems or Labour favour independence? The SNP have been reduced to pretending their own councillors are Labour members supporting independence.

    15 seats only makes sense if you want Scotland to become independent, because treating Scots like second-class citizens is hardly going to make them feel warmly about the UK.

    There is a case for stopping Scottish MPs voting on devolved issues, but you run into awkward constitutional questions if it changes the balance of power in the Commons and there’s also an impact on the Barnett formula. Devolving power to English regions would work, but you’d need a) coherent regions and b) an executive that was willing to devolve significant amounts of power. As yet, I don’t see much evidence of either of those things.

  38. “15 seats only makes sense if you want Scotland to become independent, because treating Scots like second-class citizens is hardly going to make them feel warmly about the UK”

    I really do not think that there would be uproar in Scotland if they had their amount of Westminster seats cut down. There are far too many seats there for a country with its own parliament. Scotland is over represented while England is woefully under represented. That system looks like lopsided democracy to me.

    I will admit that any reduction is Scottish seats would harm the Lib Dems and Labour more. On the plus side there could be an increase of constituencies for the Scottish parliament.

  39. Then you think wrong. It wouldn’t be the cutting down, it would be the implicit statement that Scottish voices need to be heard less. And it’s particularly difficult for the Tories to get away with it.

    There was a fairly significant reduction in the number of Scottish seats in 2005, without any notable backlash. But that was because such a reduction wasn’t in the interests of the party carrying it out. If you benefit, even if the stated aim is not your own benefit, you can’t avoid looking tawdry.

    Nor is it correct to state that England is “woefully” under represented relative to Scotland. Scottish seats are still slightly too small, but the difference is nowhere as large as it used to be (and still is in Wales).

    I also don’t see why the Scottish parliament needs more constituencies. There’s no evidence that there are too few MSPs to carry out governmental functions.

  40. @Edward Carlsson Browne

    “That’s not actually true, now is it? Care to point me to where the Lib Dems or Labour favour independence? The SNP have been reduced to pretending their own councillors are Labour members supporting independence.

    Yes, it it. The Labour party followed a policy of “unity by consent” until the 1990s and did not allow Northern Ireland residents to be members until the mid 2000s.

    The LibDems’ sister party is neutral on the constitutional question.

    The Conservative party on the other hand are for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to stay in the United Kingdom even if there is no obvious benefit to themselves.

  41. The discussion has been about Scotland not Northern Ireland. That is a totally different question.

  42. I’m afraid in the 1980s and 1990s Labour (or some elements within it) did stir up separatist tensions in Scotland and that has contributed to the current strength of the SNP.

  43. As good an MP as Jim Murphy is 51% is surely as high as the Labour vote can go here.

    I think the Labour vote will fall back somewhat in 2015 and also expect this to be one of the SNP’s weakest performances in Scotland in 2015.

    My forecast for 2015:

    Lab 46
    Con 32
    SNP 15
    LD 4
    Others 3

  44. In my view the Scottish Conservatives cut off their hands to spite their faces when they failed to elect Murdo Fraser as leader and accept his idea of Bavarianisation. The Tory brand in Scotland is clearly still contaminated, and I can’t see it recovering even in the distant future. I feel so frustrated with the Scottish party that If I lived in this constituency, I would probably vote for Jim Murphy, and certainly would vote for Tom Harris if I lived in next door Glasgow South, despite being a lifelong Conservative, for much of it a party member.

    As for the future of the UK, like most other posters, I think a “No” vote is almost certain. Surprisingly for a Conservative, I support federalisation of the UK, with an English Parliament (with further devolution to London and other large cities), preferably in York rather than London (I actually favour moving central government out of London, but accept it would probably be too expensive). Central government should then concentrate, as in other countries, on things that cannot be done at a lower level, such as defence and foreign affairs, perhaps on the German model, though I do not favour English regions, as they are too artificial (I am Sussex born and raised, and feel a great deal of affection to my home county, but feel no loyalty to the South East).

  45. To add to the result predictions, A Brown, yours sounds about right to me, though I don’t think the Lib Dems will fall that far. When council elections were held here under FPTP, Eaglesham was a Lib Dem ward (of course anywhere in England more or less this would be a Tory stronghold). It also shows how far Tory support has sunk in that the staunchly Rangers-supporting area of Thornliebank (home of the flute band – not that this is an argument in favour of it – having close Catholic friends, I can’t stand sectarianism) voted Labour in the 2003 council election.

  46. There is more positive news for the Tories here at a local level because Newton Mearns S ward is their strongest ward in Scotland where they get 63% at a local level (and to a lesser extent at Holyrood) but I can’t see the Tories ever winning the Westminster seat.

    Ironically Ruth Davidson’s cosmopolitan appeal has just about stopped the rot for the Tories here and allows them to differentiate themselves from a more English nationalist Tory party in England.

  47. I remember attending a fundraiser here before the 2003 Holyrood elections in Eastwood, I was shocked with how few members the Conservatives had in Eastwood at the time. I was also one of the younger members there and at the time I would have been in my mid-40s!

    I wonder if the demographic of the Scottish Conservatives has changed much in recent times?

  48. Why would a young person join the Scottish Tories. They are completely marginalised and squeezed between Labour and the SNP, and the social stigma of being identified as a Tory is still as strong in Scotland as it was in England between 1992 and 1997.

  49. things have really changed since the 1979 election, when people proudly wore badges during the campaign declaring “I’m a Tory too!” and even “Cheer up! The Tories are coming”.

  50. Well you could perhaps still wear a badge like that in the home counties and get a lot of people agreeing with you. But in Scotland you would get beaten up.

    Where I grew up however, you would not have been treated well if you wore that badge in 1979. People in mining villages displaying Tory election posters routinely got their windows smashed in those days. In fact people are more open-minded to the Tories in mining villages now than they were then.

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