Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale

2015 Result:
Conservative: 20759 (39.8%)
Labour: 7711 (14.8%)
Lib Dem: 1392 (2.7%)
SNP: 19961 (38.3%)
Green: 839 (1.6%)
UKIP: 1472 (2.8%)
MAJORITY: 798 (1.5%)

Category: Ultra-marginal Conservative seat

Geography: Scotland, South of Scotland. Parts of Dumfries and Galloway, South Lanarkshire and Scottish Borders council areas.

Main population centres: Sanquhar, Annan, Gretna Green, Langholm, Moffat, Biggar, Peebles, Innerleithen, Lockerbie.

Profile: A large, rural constituency in the southern uplands of Scotland. To the south it is bounded by the Solway Firth and England in the form of Penrith and the Borders. Most of the seat is unpopulated hills and mountains and what towns there are are small settlements of only a few thousand that have historically relied upon the wool trade from surrounding hill farms. The main settlements include Sanquhar, Annan on the Solway Firth - until 2007 the site of Chapelcross nuclear power station, Gretna Green with its marriage industry, Langholm, Moffat, Biggar, Peebles, Innerleithen and Lockerbie, now infamous for the 1988 plane bombing.

Politics: The seat was created in 2005, made up from seats with a variety of political tranditions - Tweeddale was from a Liberal seat, Dumfriesshire is Conservative and Clydesdale was part of a Labour seat. In the event it was held by the Conservatives, their only remaining seat in Scotland and one of only three non-SNP seats in Scotland.

Current MP
DAVID MUNDELL (Conservative) Born 1962, Dumfries. Educated at Lockerbie Academy and Edinburgh University. Former Solicitor and legal advisor for British Telecom. Annandale and Eskdale councillor 1984-1986, Dumfries and Galloway councillor 1986-1987. First elected as MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale in 2005. Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland 2005-2010, Under-secretary of State for Scotland 2010-2015. Secretary of State for Scotland since 2015. Has been the only Conservative MP for a Scottish constituency since his election, ensuring his almost immediate appointment to the shadow cabinet, though this did not translate into a Cabinet portfolio until 2015.
Past Results
Con: 17457 (38%)
Lab: 13263 (29%)
LDem: 9080 (20%)
SNP: 4945 (11%)
Oth: 1147 (2%)
MAJ: 4194 (9%)
Con: 16141 (36%)
Lab: 14403 (32%)
LDem: 9046 (20%)
SNP: 4075 (9%)
Oth: 951 (2%)
MAJ: 1738 (4%)
Con: 11996 (28%)
Lab: 20830 (49%)
LDem: 4955 (12%)
SNP: 4103 (10%)
Oth: 702 (2%)
MAJ: 8834 (21%)
Con: 13885 (28%)
Lab: 23528 (48%)
LDem: 5487 (11%)
SNP: 5977 (12%)
Oth: 650 (1%)
MAJ: 9643 (19%)

2015 Candidates
DAVID MUNDELL (Conservative) See above.
ARCHIE DRYBURGH (Labour) Educated at Buckhaven High School. Trainer and assessor. Dumfries and Galloway councillor.
AMANDA KUBIE (Liberal Democrat)
KEVIN NEWTON (UKIP) Educated at Edinburgh University. Contested Dunfermline West 1997, Clydesdale 2001 for the Conservatives, Scotland 2014 European election for UKIP.
EMMA HARPER (SNP) Born 1967, Stranraer. Nurse.
Comments - 547 Responses on “Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale”
  1. Yes for the moment it does look as though the Conservatives will do very well at the 2017 local council elections in Scotland.

  2. The latest Scottish poll has the Conservatives on 16% and have lost any advance made in 2016. They are only second because Labour are doing even worse on 14%.

  3. Could you send a link?

    There was a recent poll from BMG (28 Sept – 4 Oct):

    SNP: 49% (-1)
    CON: 20% (+5)
    LAB: 17% (-7)
    LDEM: 8% (-)

  4. The Holyrood poll had the SNP on 40, Com 16 and Lab 14. Thebarticle I read made reference to the same poll but they obviously quoted the figures without the undecideds being eliminated.

  5. Apparently the Holyrood figures are
    SNP 51%
    CON 21%
    LAB 18%
    LIB 7%

    SNP 43%
    CON 20%
    LAB 16%
    GRN 8%
    LIB 7%
    UKIP 3%

  6. Surely Brexit will have undone all the hard work Ruth Davidson has put in, and mean the Tories return back to their awful performances of the 2000s. I would expect that, unless they vote tactically, many of those who voted Tory in the Holyrood election in May will defect to the Liberal Democrats or quite likely the SNP. I face the same choice in Battersea, even though Jane Ellison is from the same wing of the party as me. I will not vote Labour with the current leadership, but am not at all happy with the current government’s approach. Hard Brexit will have me seriously considering voting Liberal Democrat, even though they can’t win the seat.

  7. Brexit offers an opportunity for the Tories in Scotland. As noted on a thread on the main page, the other significant parties in Scotland are all opposed to the 38% who voted Naw to the EU. Far more people voted Naw than voted Tory in May 2016, so they have room for growth there, if they push a “Naw means Naw” line.

    Obviously, the Scottish Tories aren’t going to be getting 38% in an election any time soon – the last time they got that was in 1970 – but there is an opportunity for them to change how some voters see them, just as there was with the IndyRef. The Tories principal problem in Scotland is that many who agree with a large chunk of their policies see them as “Not out for us”, and thus the Tories underperform what you’d expect from a lone centre-right party in Scotland.

    The EU is a valence issue where the SNP, the LDs, and Labour are all opposed to a lot of Scottish voters, and the Tories have the opportunity to take a clear stand on that valence issue: “We opposed the Naw vote, but now that the UK has voted Naw, we need to leave and we can now have stronger restrictions in immigration.”

  8. About 35% of Scots voted to Leave and many would have been Tory voters.

    A long time yet till 2020 but at this point I do not see the Lib Dems as a good option for “Tory Remainers”. Like Labour they have simply failed to engage seriously with the result of the referendum. Their only contribution so far being cheap sixth form politicking intended to needle the government rather than contribute constructively to solving the predicament we face….today’s infantile demands to the chancellor about the £350 million a week for the NHS being an excellent example. I refuse to vote for that kind of party or for a preachy idiot like Farron. I think the choice for most Tories who felt strongly against Brexit will be to vote Tory or stay at home.

  9. I think the polling evidence suggests that the Tories are currently somewhere between about 19 and 23%. The question is whether they can make further progress or, in fact, are more likely to fall back. My own opinion is that it’s significantly more likely that they will fall back than advance further.

    There are two main problems for the Tories.

    Firstly, they are fishing in a pool that comprises 50-55% of the electorate. They are going to get virtually zero support from pro-independence voters for the foreseeable future. Although that 50% or so tends to be somewhat more middle class and somewhat less left-wing than the pro-Yes part of the electorate, it’s hardly a hotbed of right-wingery. It includes, for example, 45% of the population of both Glasgow and Dundee and around half of most of west central Scotland. So I think there’s a good chunk of the No vote that’s very unlikely to vote Tory, meaning that there’s a relatively limited ceiling.

    Secondly, the UK Tories haven’t helped their Scottish counterparts with Brexit and the shift in emphasis from May as opposed to Cameron. I think it’s when the Tories get nationalistic in an Anglo-British way that they get toxic to the Scottish electorate, so there’s a clear risk there.

    It’s certainly possible that the Tories current improvement is as much due to the incompetence of the other unionist parties. While it looks like it will take time for Labour to sort themselves out, Labour and the Lib Dems are not going to remain terrible for ever, and a centrist party is a good fit for a significant chunk of unionist voters.

  10. I’m unconvinced by the idea that the Tories can hoover up the Leave vote. A substantial proportion of it voted Yes in 2014 – there’s little correlation between 2014 and 2016 referendum votes – and much of the unionist Leave vote will already be Tory. They also have to guard against losing the more centrist and pro-remain votes that they’ve recently acquired.

  11. But 10 years of Cameron didn’t move the needle at all as far as support for the Tories in Scotland was concerned; they only improved through Davidson’s efforts really, perhaps starting to give them a separate identity to the party at a UK level.

    If that’s the case then what we might see is them doing rather better in local and devolved elections than they do in a General Election

  12. Brexit may not be as bad for the Scottish Tories as it seems. By keeping independence at the forefront of debate it reinforces the Tories strongest card, that with the state Labour is in they are the only party that can be trusted to defend the Union. It is far too early to make predictions for 2020 but at the moment I think they are well placed to sweep up more of the unionist vote than in 2015.

  13. “with the state Labour is in they are the only party that can be trusted to defend the Union”

    Especially as some figures in Scottish Labour now seem to be flirting with the idea of supporting independence

  14. @ Simon –

    The polls were quite far off in 2016 and indeed the final polls had the Tories taking 19% of the constituency vote in Scotland, when they actually took 22% of the constituency vote. Could there be a lag in the polls (I don’t believe any 2016 poll has ever had the Conservatives on 22% of the vote in Scotland)? Do we have any substantial evidence to suggest that Westminster voting intention differs significantly from Holyrood voting intention in favour of the SNP?

    Recent local council by-election trends would have the Conservatives on around 24% of the vote nationally – and they don’t seem to be letting up…

  15. @NTYUK I think there was late movement to the Tories before the Scottish election which may have been too late for the pollsters. I don’t think you can suggest from that one occasion that there is necessarily a systemic flaw in Scottish opinion polls, which were relatively accurate in 2015, for example. You could just as reasonably argue that the reason the Tories aren’t polling 22% is that they are off a point or two since May.

    On differences between Scottish and Westminster voting intentions, we don’t have any evidence that there is a difference that is showing up in the polls at this stage. I do believe that such a difference is likely to emerge, but it isn’t a key part of the argument I posted earlier in this thread. Happy to discuss that as a separate issue, but even if I’m wrong on that, I still think the Tories overall ceiling is pretty limited.

    I wouldn’t be altogether shocked if the Tories did score 24% in 2017, but I think that’s higher than they would score in a UK or Scottish election, due to the Tory vote tending to turn out more reliably in low-turnout elections and local authority and other elections being something of a stick to hit incumbent governments. I do think trying to parse minor changes from local election results (are the Tories on 24% or the 21 or so that that polls suggest, for example) is something of a pointless task, because I don’t believe you can get the precision required to do so.

  16. @ Simon – I agree regarding the late swing and that the Conservatives will probably do considerably better in the 2017 local elections in comparison to 2020, HOWEVER it’s important to remember that traditionally the Conservatives do WORSE in local council elections in comparison to Westminster elections in Scotland (perhaps linked to the standing of Independent candidates)! Certainly an interesting notion to consider at least…

  17. Yeah, I had forgotten the independents. Taking that into account, as well as the other factors which favour them, I’d guess that 19-22% is more likely.

  18. It’s looking like it’ll be around 24% just now in my opinion, but I’ll wait ’til the Banff and District by-election before commenting any further.

  19. Are you getting those numbers from comparisons with 2012? I had thought that in most by-elections they were up by between 5 and 10% on 2012, when they scored 13.3%. I don’t recall many where they were more than 10% up on 2012, but then you do pay more attention to these things than I do.

  20. Yes I’m comparing them to 2012 and to the results of the 2016 SP election. In all areas (barring Nairn, where there was a strong independent vote) the Conservatives are up by around 2-3% of the vote from 2016.

  21. Tories are fairly near their ceiling here – but I’m not sure Brexit is so terminal for them. It will cost them votes in Edinburgh but they may make up some of that further north, where there are plenty of Eurosceptic SNP voters (who have often been with the party since it opposed the EU in the 1975 referendum).

  22. I don’t think Brexit, in itself, will have much of an impact on how people are likely to vote in the short to medium term. In terms of party preference, the only way it might is if the UK Tories end up being a largely English nationalist party, which tends to go down like a bucket of cold sick up here for some reason.

  23. The Tory-run Dumfries council seems to be fairly competent so that will help them in this seat.

  24. Is the fact that the Welsh also voted Leave now a fact that the left wants to conveniently airbrush from history?

  25. Assuming that’s directed at me, I don’t think the fact that the Welsh voted to Leave has much to do with whether the Tories end up being a largely English nationalist party or not.

  26. Welsh speaking Gwynedd voted almost 60% to Remain.

    Working class English speaking Wrexham voted almost 60% to Leave while middle class English speaking Monmouthshire voted marginally to Remain.

    Its fair to say that Gwynedd behaved like Scotland while Wrexham and Monmouthshire behaved like divided England (highly educated affluent areas voting Remain and deprived working class areas voting Leave).

  27. That’s an inaccurate description of the vote split in England, though, isn’t it? Lots of leafy and relatively affluent rural and suburban areas voted Leave – most of them, in fact.

    As for Wales, Carmarthenshire and Yns Mon with a lot of Welsh speakers voted LEAVE and so did Conwy and Denbighshire where there are considerable numbers. It’s not obvious there is any link with the language issue.

  28. I can’t really comment for England though in Scotland the Leave campaign performed best in deprived rural settings, followed by affluent rural areas and then deprived urban areas – the suburbs being the best Remain areas.

  29. That’s a UK-wide pattern, though maybe in England deprived cities were more pro-leave than affluent shires.

  30. I said “highly educated affluent” areas not “affluent areas”. Brighton, Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Oxford, Winchester, Cambridge fell to Remain.

    The other areas in on the West side Wales were only just won by leave are not overwhelmingly Welsh speaking.

  31. Without question, with over 60% of the vote I suspect.

  32. The Conservatives could win Clydesdale & Eskdale in 2020, overturning a 4000 + notional SNP majority.

  33. Electoral calculus is pants, if anything Clydesdale and Eskdale is a Conservative notional!

  34. IIRC John Curtice had Clydesdale & Eskdale as notionally Tory by like twelve votes or something tiny.

  35. My own figures suggest that the proposed constituency narrowly went Conservative in 2015 on a margin of less than 1% of the vote (I believe).

    My figures:
    40% Conservative
    39% SNP
    15% Labour
    9% Other

  36. Is Annandale counting tonight or tomorrow?

  37. It’s being counted just now.

  38. Tories are polling extremely well ahead at the count, Labour don’t appear to be doing too badly either.

  39. Conservative HOLD Annandale North
    MASSIVE Tory vote

  40. Conservatives on 2041 votes, Greens on 152.

  41. That’s around 57% Conservative and 4% Green, roughly what I was expecting.

  42. What’s it looking like for the rest?

  43. So CON win on the first round, no need for reallocation of votes if they got over 50%?

  44. I assume so its a bit different under STV but in a single by election should run like a normal AV run off. Britain Elects have already called it but the numbers are taking their time.

  45. The declaration video cut off after the Conservative vote was declared so I’m not sure about others yet.

  46. To put this result into a bit of perspective: my 2015 notional for the Annandale North ward is around 50% Conservative. If the result were to be repeated across the whole of the Clydesdale and Eskdale constituency in a general election the Conservatives would win here comfortably.

  47. Although, of course, turnout was likely to be lower than it would be in a General Election. Which party benefits most from that is open to debate.

  48. Indeed, furthermore the area is a strong Conservative area which arguably means that vote gains here are more limited than elsewhere.

  49. Annandale North full result:

    Conservative: 2,041 (57.4%)
    Scottish National: 749 (21.1%)
    Labour: 611 (17.2%)
    Green: 152 (4.3%)

    Total valid votes: 3,553

    Change from 2012:

    Conservative +16.9
    Scottish National +4.3
    Labour -2.4
    Green -10.0

    Change from 2012 by-election:

    Conservative +11.4
    Scottish National +11.7
    Labour -8.1
    Green -7.4

    Another stinker for the SNP. This would equate to 2 Conservative councillors, 1 SNP and a close race for the final seat between the Conservatives and Labour.

  50. There’s no point in counting by-election results to be honest: in 2017 the Conservatives will most probably perform better in neighbouring Annandale East & Eskdale where they took 38.1% of the vote back in 2012.

    I believe that their five highest first preference vote shares in Scotland in 2012 were:
    * Newton Mearns South – 63.4%
    * Colinton/Fairmilehead – 52.0%
    * Ayr West – 48.2%
    * South Kintyre – 45.9%
    * Annandale North – 40.5%

    Keep in mind the fact that 2012 was a rough year for the party.

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