Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross

2015 Result:
Conservative: 2326 (6.8%)
Labour: 3061 (9%)
Lib Dem: 11987 (35.1%)
SNP: 15831 (46.3%)
UKIP: 981 (2.9%)
MAJORITY: 3844 (11.2%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat


Main population centres:



Current MP
PAUL MONAGHAN (SNP) First elected as MP for Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 3744 (13%)
Lab: 7081 (25%)
LDem: 11907 (41%)
SNP: 5516 (19%)
Oth: 520 (2%)
MAJ: 4826 (17%)
Con: 2835 (10%)
Lab: 5789 (21%)
LDem: 13957 (50%)
SNP: 3686 (13%)
Oth: 1396 (5%)
MAJ: 8168 (30%)
Con: 3513 (14%)
Lab: 6297 (25%)
LDem: 9041 (36%)
SNP: 5273 (21%)
Oth: 743 (3%)
MAJ: 2744 (11%)
Con: 3148 (11%)
Lab: 8122 (28%)
LDem: 10381 (36%)
SNP: 6710 (23%)
Oth: 811 (3%)
MAJ: 2259 (8%)

2015 Candidates
ALASTAIR GRAHAM (Conservative) Headmaster. Surrey Heath councillor since 2007. Contested Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross 2010.
JOHN ERSKINE (Labour) Educated at Dingwall Academy and Stirling University. Parliamentary assistant.
JOHN THURSO (Liberal Democrat) Born 1953, Thurso, the grandson of former Liberal leader Archibald Sinclair.. Educated at Eton. Chief executive of a hotel group. MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross 2001 to 2015. The third Viscount Thurso, he sat in the House of Lords from 1995 until hereditary peers were removed in 1999. He is one of three hereditary peers to have sat in the Commons, but the only one who previously served in the Lords (the others are Viscount Hailsham (Douglas Hogg) and the Marquess of Lothian (Michael Ancram) - both of whom inherited their peerages when already MPs).
Comments - 175 Responses on “Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross”
  1. Changes in 1983:

    SDP/Liberal Alliance: +52.04%
    Con: -8.13%
    Lab: -26.95%
    SNP: -16.96%

  2. This seat was uncontested by the Liberals in 1979….having been Liberal from 1964 to 1966.

  3. A closer look at the result in Caithness and Sutherland in 1964-
    Mackie (Liberal)- 7, 894 (36.1%, N/A)
    Urquart (Labour)- 6, 619 (30.2%, -4.4%)
    Maitland (Unionist)- 4, 550 (20.8%, N/A)
    Young (Ind Unionist)- 2, 795 (12.7%, -52.6%)

    Majority- 1, 275 (5.9%)
    Swing- +44.35% From Ind Unionist to Liberal.

  4. My forecast for this seat in 2015:-

    SNP 30
    Lab 27
    LD 26
    Con 13
    Others 4

  5. You’re jumping the gun a bit I think.

    Highland seats have always been about personal votes.

    I doubt Lord Thurso will be kicked out.

  6. SNP: 30%
    LD: 29%
    LAB: 29%
    CON: 9%
    UKIP: 4%

  7. I agree that this may be very close three ways – history repeating itself from way back in 1945 (albeit with different parties).

  8. And of course the grandson of the previous liberal member to lose his seat.

  9. It is incredible how close some of these Scottish seats are, isn’t it?

    This is probably the best LD hold prospect up this way outside of Orkney and Shetland, Ross Skye and Lochaber, and North East Fife.

    I do think the SNP will edge it though. Thurso does have his work cut out if he stands again, even if he is locally popular.

  10. This was another of the latest seats to declare on the first day of the 1992 Election-

  11. There was a by election here on Thursday which was won by an independent (SNP, Tories and 2 other Inds stood):

    And If I am allowed to say this then I will: I do actually know a ‘social conservative’ Christian family from Tain originally in my neighborhood who support independence.

  12. Thurso must be the most likeable Lord in Parliament, seeming the traditional paternalist aristocrat with impeccable local credentials

    I would be staggered if he got the boot here

    Even if there is a Lib Dem meltdown in Scotland in 2015, you’d expect this seat, neighbouring Ross & Skye and Orkney and Shetland to stick with the Lib Dem, leaving them with a larger base than the Tories, who will have their work cut out trying to hang onto the single seat they have

  13. ITN televised the declaration here in 1983, but not in any of the elections that followed I don’t think. I think the particular interest then was to see whether Maclennan would hold his seat in his new SDP colours, which he did emphatically, with a hugely increased majority.

  14. Ladbrokes:
    2/5 LD
    3 Lab
    6 SNP

  15. I think John Thurso will hang on here. Feedback seems to suggest that the two counties (Caithness and Sutherland) were pretty good for No in the referendum. I don’t think in the dispersed communities of this constituency the SNP will generate enough momentum to seriously challenge and Labour’s support will be restricted to Wick and Thurso. All eyes will be on Danny Alexander and Inverness.

  16. Following the two obvious and certain LD Scottish holds (Orkney & Shetland and Ross, Skye & Locharber) this has to be the third most likely LD hold.

  17. I think either this or Fife NE, which I just cannot see changing hands

  18. My prediction here is still for a narrow LD hold.

    I now have their Scotland situation like this:

    Orkney & Shetland
    Ross, Skye, & Lochaber
    Fife North East
    Caithness, Sutherland, & Easter Ross
    Berwickshire, Roxburgh, & Selkirk

    Edinburgh W (though to who I don’t know; could be a four-way)
    Dunbartonshire E
    Aberdeenshire W & Kincardine
    Argyll & Bute
    Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch, & Strathspey

  19. I wonder if the Conservatives might have an outside chance in Berwickshire (I’d still make the LDs favourites though).

    In both Gordon and Inverness the Lib Dems might draw some comfort from the fragmented nature of the opposition.

  20. Yeah the tories have a small small chance.

    Of coming third.

  21. In Berwickshire? They’re already second, Robbie. Try to keep up.

  22. robbie he wasn’t talking about the whole constituency :/

  23. well. This is a tragic miscommunication.

  24. I think Thurso will hold this seat, but a loss is definitely credible. The seat is difficult to predict as local elections here are so fragmented by independents.

  25. The poll in Inverness was really grim for the LDs & this seat is rather similar psephologically, even though it lacks a large urban centre such as Inverness has. The only caveat is the very small sample size. But it was so horrendous that I now doubt that Alexander will make it. If Alexander is in real trouble, Viscount Thurso ought to be too, but he is likely to prove less of a potential hate figure & he might just scrape back in. (He’s entitled to call himself John Thurso if he wishes, but his family name is Sinclair – his grandfather Sir Archibald Sinclair was Liberal Party leader until his defeat here in 1945.)

  26. There was a poll in Inverness? Have there been any other constituency specific polls in Scottish seats?

  27. Thurso is very much a local man, though, and is more popular than Alexander. Party affiliation doesn;t seem to matter as much in the Highlands seats

  28. Worth saying also that, anecdotally, the Yes vote was quite strong in & around Inverness, much less so in the Far North.

  29. Could this one be a seat for Alex Salmond?

  30. No

  31. If Salmond stands at all it’ll be in Gordon

  32. I would agree with those above that Thurso is more popular locally than Alexander. Alexander is a symbol of the right-wing of the Lib Dems, whereas Thurso isn’t at all. Kennedy and Maclennan are the sort of Lib Dems who do well in this part of the world, not Alexander’s much more centre-right English type.

    Thurso should hold, but it’s not at all unlikely he’d lose.

  33. I think Viscount Thurso’s popularity will pull him though. This is one of these parts of the country where people vote for personalities rather than the colour of the rosette the candidate is wearing.

  34. Yes I agree that this will buck the trend. On top of that, the SNP is the main challenger despite Labour being in second.

    Increasingly, I think the Lib Dems will hold only this, Orkney, and Ross of their northern seats, losing W Aberdeenshire, Argyll, Inverness, and Gordon. Then, I think they’ll lose E Dunbartonshire, but pull through (barely) in Fife NE, and narrowly hold Edinburgh W (although I’m far from certain there) and Berwickshire. Then, I think they’ll get crushed in almost every seat they don’t already hold, generally just tanking across the country. Incumbency matters more in rural Scotland than almost anywhere else.

    For this seat:

    LD 33
    SNP 28
    LAB 21
    CON 14
    UKIP 4

  35. Although the Inverness appears to be a rural constituency on the map most of the electors are concentrated within the Inverness urban area.

    That’s what makes Inverness different from Caithness or Ross & Skye.

    That’s why Alexander is far more vulnerable than Thurso or Kennedy.

  36. If the SNP stand who I would expect them to stand, it’ll be a stramash to see who wins the seat.

    I would expect a good 10% to come off the Lib Dem vote anyway, as it would whoever the candidate, and the interesting variable here is the 25% Labour vote. If the vote were in 2012, they would be in a good position to take the seat (based on their 2012 council results compared to 2007), but it’s hard to see that being maintained in the current climate.

    If they get the right candidate, the SNP should win the seat on 35%, with the Lib Dems on 31-32%.

  37. I remember before 2001 there was said to be some concern among LibDems that Labour could take this seat. In the event John Thurso got in OK. I should say that feedback I have received indicates that this seat really is in play although, of course, this time it is the SNP who are challenging. Note – SNP won the Scottish parliamentary seat really quite comfortably. I am becoming less optimistic for the LibDems here than hitherto.

  38. “. Note – SNP won the Scottish parliamentary seat really quite comfortably”

    Well that’s the great big elephant in the room isn’t it.

    No doubt local factors and personal votes shall save the day for the LDs here though.

  39. In terms of the Scottish parliamentary seat, it’s also worth noting that Rob Gibson had stood in 2003 and 2007, prior to winning in 2011, and was also a regional MSP since 2003, which no doubt enhanced his profile.

    This also followed incumbent Jamie Stone standing down.

    Most of the SNP’s recognized runners and riders in the region are now at Holyrood. Jean Urquhart is another example of someone who has stood in the seat on previous occasions, although she is both an MSP and has left the SNP.

    I’m looking forward to see who they stand.

  40. Several have mentioned that John Thurso’s grandfather Sir Archibald Sinclair was defeated in 1945 in a three way fight after serving the constituency for some 21 years. Amazingly so was HIS grandfather in the 1860’s (?). So the incumbency factor hasn’t always worked here, even for the local laird!

  41. A third Thurso headed to defeat would certainly make for a good story, but I still am inclined to think it won’t come to pass.

  42. This is the only Westminster constituency that is smaller than its Westminster counterpart. Interesting when you consider Holyrood has 73 constituencies and Westminster has 59 Scottish constituencies.

    The Westminster constituency of Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross is contained with the Caithness, Sutherland & Ross Holyrood comstituency.

    Westminster’s Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross has approx. 47000 electors and Wester Ross has approx. 9000 making the Holyrood constituency 56000.

    The main reason is that for Holyrood and Westminster the Highland Council area is divided into three constituencies that are not shared with any other council area.

    The latest Holyrood review saw the constituencies moving southwards as Inverness’s population increases significantly, creating a very compact Inverness & Nairn constituency and two huge rural constituencies.

    The last Westminster review was not that long ago (2005) so the Holyrood boundary commissions decision to include Wester Ross in this constituency (and affectively have a larger Holyrood constituency than Westminster constituency) is removing a regard for very rural constituencies to have smaller electorates.

  43. “This is the only Westminster constituency that is smaller than its Holyrood counterpart. Interesting when you consider Holyrood has 73 constituencies and Westminster has 59 Scottish constituencies.”

    Should say….

    “This is the only Westminster constituency that is smaller than its Westminster counterpart. Interesting when you consider Holyrood has 73 constituencies and Westminster has 59 Scottish constituencies.”

  44. This is the only Westminster constituency that is smaller than its Westminster counterpart. Interesting when you consider Holyrood has 73 constituencies and Westminster has 59 Scottish constituencies.”

    Should say….

    “This is the only Westminster constituency that is smaller than its Holyrood counterpart. Interesting when you consider Holyrood has 73 constituencies and Westminster has 59 Scottish constituencies.”

  45. Great News!

    The SNP have just selected Dr Paul Monaghan as their candidate. A really good choice who is more than capable of taking this seat!


  46. That’s not at all biased.

  47. P.T.Richards,

    I’ve Known Paul for years and I make no secret of the fact that Iam an SNP supporter. I posted on here because I think he is a genuinely strong candidate who I think on current polling can win this seat.

    I’ve also met John Erskine as he stood against me for the Council and I was on the opposite side in a discussion forum at the Referendum.

    He’s a decent guy too, but I don’t see Labour winning here and I rate Paul as better in debate.

    Still time will tell and with a bit of luck Lord Ashcroft will have polled all the LibDem seats so we’ll have a better idea next week.


  48. Thanks. And yes, I know you’re an SNP supporter; I’m just wary when people start talking up their own parties on here.

    Obviously the Ashcroft poll will matter greatly, but I tend to think Thurso will win, although it’ll be close.

  49. P.T,

    Well I can see your point about Talking Up” but a seemingly natural consequence of being a Party perceived as being on the up and winning seats that used to be felt out of reach is that you get competition to be the candidate and quality increases.

    I don’t think it is just coincidence that after the incumbent MP very often the first announced candidates in a lot of seats are from Party’s with little chance of winning.

    In these cases it’s more about selecting any candidate you can get than the best one you can get.

    Across the Highlands I think there have been an average of four or five people hoping to stand in each seat for the SNP about a dozen well attended hustings and in my constituency (RS&L) alone a ballot of over 1,800 members.

    So I think across the board the SNP will because of circumstances be putting up perhaps it’s strongest slate of candidates for Westminster in decades.


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