East Dunbartonshire

2015 Result:
Conservative: 4727 (8.6%)
Labour: 6754 (12.3%)
Lib Dem: 19926 (36.3%)
SNP: 22093 (40.3%)
Green: 804 (1.5%)
UKIP: 567 (1%)
MAJORITY: 2167 (3.9%)

Category: Marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, West. Part of the East Dunbartonshire council area.

Main population centres: Bearsden, Bishopbriggs, Milngavie, Lenzie.

Profile: East Dunbartonshire covers the rural hinterland and affluent commuter towns to the north of Glasgow. It is a desirable residential area with a high rate of owner-occupiers, favoured by Glasgow`s middle class professionals.

Politics: Dunbartonshire East was created in 2005, bringing together the more middle class parts of the old Strathkelvin and Bearsden and Clydebank and Milngavie seats. In England it would almost certainly have been a new Conservative seat, but in Scotland they languish in a poor fourth place. Between 2005 and 2015 it was held by the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson who managed to keep most of her vote share in 2015, but managed to lose her seat anyway as Labour voters deserted en masse for the SNP.

Current MP
JOHN NICOLSON (SNP) Born Glasgow. Educated at Glasgow University. Former journalist. First elected as MP for Dunbartonshire East in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 7431 (15%)
Lab: 16367 (34%)
LDem: 18551 (39%)
SNP: 5054 (11%)
Oth: 545 (1%)
MAJ: 2184 (5%)
Con: 7708 (16%)
Lab: 15472 (33%)
LDem: 19533 (42%)
SNP: 2716 (6%)
Oth: 1295 (3%)
MAJ: 4061 (9%)
Con: 6635 (16%)
Lab: 19250 (46%)
LDem: 7533 (18%)
SNP: 6675 (16%)
Oth: 1393 (3%)
MAJ: 11717 (28%)
Con: 9986 (20%)
Lab: 26278 (53%)
LDem: 4843 (10%)
SNP: 8111 (16%)
Oth: 494 (1%)
MAJ: 16292 (33%)

2015 Candidates
ANDREW POLSON (Conservative) Educated at Douglas Academy. Radio station manager.
AMANJIT JHUND (Labour) Born 1981, Glasgow. Educated at Edinburgh university. Doctor and entrepreneur. Contested Windsor 2010.
JO SWINSON (Liberal Democrat) Born 1980, Milngavie. Educated at Douglas Academy and LSE. Marketing manager. Contested Hull East 2001 and Strathkelvin and Bearsden 2003 Scottish Parliament election. MP for East Dunbartonshire 2005 to 2015. Parliamentary under-secretary for business since 2012.
ROSS GREER (Green) Educated at Strathclyde University.
JOHN NICOLSON (SNP) Born Glasgow. Educated at Glasgow University. Journalist.
Comments - 603 Responses on “Dunbartonshire East”
  1. @ Dalek – you’re forgetting the tactical element here, it’s not impossible considering the result in North East Fife and Edinburgh Western in 2016: the constituency Lib Dem vote was significantly stronger than their vote share on the regional list vote. This was a very narrow result for the SNP in 2015…

  2. Yes as I’ve said before Liberal Democrat gains in Edinburgh West, East Dunbartonshire and North East Fife are probable in the event of a snap election.

    I would also expect the Conservatives to take somewhere in the region of 5-7 Sears’s in a snap election.

  3. Seats* but I suppose future election campaigns will play a large role in determining how well they perform in Scotland.

  4. Off the top of my head :

    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
    Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
    Dumfries and Galloway
    West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
    East Renfrewshire
    Aberdeen South

    I suppose East Renfrewshire would depend on their performance actually: so make it 4-7.

  5. Depend more on their performance* realistically you could set the minimum to two, especially where normal UK-wide general elections are concerned.

  6. Moray would be stretching it quite a bit so I doubt all of that. The Conservatives also managed over 30% of the vote in Banff and Buchan back in 2010: they have no chance of winning that constituency for the foreseeable future.

  7. Moray returned a 57.6% No vote against a reported No vote of 57% in Perth & North Perthshire.

  8. The No vote was strongest in the rural southern part of Perth and Kinross and in the suburbs to the south-west of the city itself: the city overall had a weak No result of around 52-53% No (down to a strong Yes vote in the northern estates of Perth), the rural north of Perthshire having a stronger No result of around 59-60% No.

    Roughly speaking the old Perth and Kinross constituency had a 60% No vote whilst the old North Tayside seat returned a No vote of around 59-60%.

    The Holyrood constituencies of Moray and Perthshire North returned 58% No votes whilst Perthshire South & Kinross-shire had a 62% No vote.

  9. I believe that the most populated settlements in Scotland to vote against Scottish independence in excess of 70% of the vote were:

    Bearsden – 27,967
    Newton Mearns – 22,637
    St. Andrews – 16,800
    Helensburgh – 14,626
    Stonehaven – 11,602
    Dunblane – 9,000
    Bieldside and Cults – 7,604
    Banchory – 7,520
    North Berwick – 6,605
    Kelso – 5,639
    Bishopton – 5,157

    Bieldside and Cults may well have gone No at over 80% of the vote.

  10. I agree but I’ll need to look into it further when I get the chance.

  11. It’s interesting that Dunblane voted over 70% against independence when its most famous son, and indeed one of the world’s most famous Scots – Andy Murray – was a high-profile nationalist.

  12. On a personal note, I accidentally bought a train ticket to Bearsden for a couple hundred quid once. I meant to select my home village Bearsted from the ticket machine. Getting a refund was quite the hassle…

  13. I’ve revised my Scottish independence referendum (2014) notional figures for this area.

    The revised figures would suggest that the East Dunbartonshire constituency rejected independence on a 65-35 margin, with the No campaign polling ahead in Bearsden with around 73% of the vote, the Yes campaign winning in the Kirkintilloch East & Twechar ward with around 60% of the vote.

    With these figures in mind I would suggest that the Conservatives polled ahead in the Bearsden North, Bearsden South and Bishopbriggs North & Torrance wards at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.

    Regarding the 2017 local council election here: I’ve constantly suggested that the Conservatives could take the most councillors here, but I’ve been rather uncertain about it. And I am still rather hesitant.

    The Conservatives and the SNP should each take one councillor each in every ward in East Dunbartonshire barring in Kirkintilloch East & North & Twechar which I anticipate will return 2 SNP councillors and 1 Labour councillor. This should be balanced out by the new Bishopbriggs North & Campsie ward, which should return 2 Conservative councillors, 1 SNP councillor and 1 Labour (or possibly Liberal Democrat) councillor.

    To avoid tying with the SNP here the Conservatives will need to gain an additional councillor in one of the two Bearsden wards: if they manage it in one they should manage it in the other.

  14. Of those settlements which had No ahead by 70% here’s how they (seem to have) voted at the 2016 Scottish Parliament election:

    Bearsden – Conservative
    Newton Mearns – Conservative
    St. Andrews – Liberal Democrat
    Helensburgh – Labour
    Stonehaven – Conservative
    Dunblane – Conservative
    Bieldside and Cults – Conservative
    Banchory – Conservative
    North Berwick – Conservative
    Kelso – Conservative
    Bishopton – Conservative

    None of them (seem to have) went SNP.

  15. I never said they’d top the poll in Stirling I said they might take the most councillors there.

  16. I think that Stirling is more likely than East Dunbartonshire: both are possible.

  17. I believe that they should manage it in the East Dunbartonshire UK parliamentary constituency, I’m less sure about the council area but they are unlikely to take the most seats in the council area due to the nominations in the area.

  18. That would make East Dunbartonshire almost very interesting: Tory in local government, SNP at Holyrood, and Lib Dem at Westminster. Only a few percentage points stops the last from being true, and that could easily change after 2020, so that they’d have collected a small boxed set of political representation…

  19. To add to their very interesting features in the 1970s, e.g. the tiny margin between the three parties in October 1974.

  20. @ Bill Patrick – based on the nominations its unlikely that the Conservatives will take the most seats in East Dunbartonshire, but certainly they could poll first.

    If the boundary changes go through they will demolish any Liberal Democrat hopes of recovery here as Milngavie (a fairly Lib Dem friendly town) will most likely be leaving the constituency to be replaced with the eastern estates of Kirkintilloch (which are solidly SNP).

  21. NTY UK,

    Interesting point on the boundary changes. I’d forgotten that particular detail.

  22. Does anyone know if Jo Swinson intends to run here again in June?

  23. NTY UK said:
    The Conservatives and the SNP should each take one councillor each in every ward in East Dunbartonshire barring in Kirkintilloch East & North & Twechar which I anticipate will return 2 SNP councillors and 1 Labour councillor.

    I largely agree, with the proviso that there is a tricky situation in Bearsden North. There is a strong chance that the Independent Councillor will get re-elected. There is also a good chance that the Lib Dem candidate will get elected. Their campaign so far has not been as intensive as a LD campaign usually is in a target seat but they have done more than any of the other parties. That leaves the SNP and the Tories to slog it out for the remaining seat. The key might well be the destination of the Labour Party candidate’s second preferences. Will they be allocated on a Unionist basis or on an anti-Tory basis?

    What NTY UK could not know back in January is that there are two Independent candidates standing over in the ‘east’. From what I hear their chances of being elected should not be under-estimated.

    However, I can’t see the Tories out-polling the SNP in East Dunbartonshire or winning the most seats.

    As far as Jo Swinson is concerned there has been no local announcement as far as I am aware. My own opinion is that she will not stand but I’m not promising to eat my hat if that turns out to be incorrect. If she couldn’t win two years ago with the advantage of being the sitting MP and all the money that was poured into the constituency prior to the election campaign proper, I doubt that she has much chance of winning in the current situation. After the Scottish Parliament election in 2016 we went about nine months in Bearsden North without any leaflets from the Lib Dems. Then there was one in late March and no ward-wide leaflet since then, as yet. In Milngavie the long-serving Councillor is standing down and the new candidate is pretty much an unknown. The short-serving Councillor in Bearsden North is also standing down and is also being replaced by an unknown candidate. So far the Lib Dems are not doing an awful lot to make her better-known.

    Another thing of interest is that for the first time for a long time the Lib Dems have failed to put up a candidate in every seat. They have no candidate in the Twechar seat.

    When the Lib Dems lose a seat it often becomes a Lib Dem desert soon afterwards. An example would be the Isle of Wight. Without Jo Swinson, the Lib Dems in East Dunbartonshire are likely to go the same way. Their organisation in Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch and Lenzie is very thin on the ground. They have a very long-serving member of the party standing in the Lenzie seat and he is acting as the agent in two seats. That’s not a sign of a healthy, thriving organisation. Another long-serving member is acting as the agent in Milngavie and Bearsden North. And the agent in Bearsden South is a former Councillor who retired from the Council in 2003. There is no sign of younger people being active.

    I somehow doubt that the Lib Dems will be putting Dunbartonshire East near the top of their campaigning priorities. They will be setting themselves modest targets such as winning back Edinburgh West and Fife North East. In that situation, Dunbartonshire East isn’t going to get the huge sums of money it was given in 2015. And in that situation there is no incentive for Jo Swinson to return from her exile in the south.

    One other point is that Milngavie might well go into Dunbartonshire West but the Boundary Commission is proposing that Bearsden North does that, not Milngavie.

  24. Jo Swinson has confirmed she is standing again.

  25. It will be very impressive if the SNP can hang onto this seat versus her.

  26. If Swinson wins, and can hold moving forward, it would seem that she’d be Farron’s natural successor.

  27. This constituency of East Dunbartonshire rejected independence by 65% No in 2014 and voted to Remain within the European Union by 73% Remain in 2016.

    If Swinson is to win here she’ll need to bring the SNP vote down by a couple of percentage points whilst picking up a healthy chunk of the Labour vote as it breaks over to the Conservatives. The problem for Jo is that the Conservatives are making gains here. She needs to retain the massive Conservative tactical vote she received here in 2015 to be in with a chance of gaining this seat.

    She will be hoping for something along the lines of:
    LD 42%
    SNP 38%
    Con 15%
    Lab 5%

  28. The early general election is very unfortunate for Nicholson because in 2020 the boundaries would have made this a safe SNP constituency. If Swinson wins she has 5 years to build up a personal vote that could help her win on more difficult boundaries in 2022.

  29. I’ll swim against the tide and lean towards an SNP hold here.

    2015 turnout was good and Swinson’s share held up extremely well (possibly the only LD to receive more votes in 2015 than 2010, and I’m pretty sure the one with the smallest swing against her).

    I find it difficult to believe that Swinson’s tactical vote will be as strong as it was in 2015, when the consideration was not just unionism, but also the presumption that there would be a coalition and therefore that Lib Dem was better than SNP.

    It’s quite possible that increased support could offset these losses, but I don’t think they’ll outweigh them. Therefore she would seem to be relying on either taking votes directly from the SNP, or the SNP turnout to drop back by double digit percentages. I’m not saying that the latter can’t happen, but love or loathe the Scottish Nationalists, they have a good recent track record of getting people to the ballot box – supporters and opponents alike.

  30. Ploppy,

    You are suggesting the LD vote will go up 7% and the Conservative vote will also go up 4%. Where are they getting these votes from?
    SNP?- I hardly think they are now going to switch to a unionist party. Labour?-No matter what happens the core support of Scottish Labour will never vote Conservative.

  31. Differential turnout could achieve it^

  32. Ploppy/ [email protected]

    I assume he means the 7% increase in the Lib Dem vote will come from the increased Conservative vote who will then vote tactically for the Lib Dems here.

  33. Ploppy/ [email protected]

    I assume he means the 7% increase in the Lib Dem vote will come from the increased Conservative vote who will then vote tactically for the Lib Dems here..

  34. Beware of overestimating LibDem chances in Scotland.
    In the 2015 General Election, unionist parties lent the LibDems their vote to try and stop a Miliband-Sturgeon Westminster coalition. The intended Conservative vote has apparently risen rapidly everywhere including in Scotland. Why would a leave supporting Conservative now lend a remain supporting LibDem candidate their vote?

  35. well, the SNP really came from nowhere here in 2015.. I would not be surprised if their vote is not as solid as elsewhere. In how many other places did the SNP vote actually exceed the Scottish referendum yes vote?.

    The Lib Dems have shown they can win such seats in the Holyrood election by mopping up Labour and Tory votes, and with local girl Swinson standing again they must have a chance

  36. There are still 12% Labour votes to squeeze. No reason why the SNP vote will go up…

  37. Andrew,

    The SNP vote here (40%) didn’t exceed the yes referendum vote (45%). Labour must be close to their core vote and there is just as much chance any Labour undecided will vote SNP (they did last time) as LibDem.

  38. The referendum result in East Dunbartonshire council area was 39% Yes, and in the constituency was probably more like 35%.

  39. Ah, I see what was meant now. Ok, fair enough point then.

  40. In the 2015 General Election campaign in East Dunbartonshire the Lib Dem campaign could be compared to the use of a Grand Slam bomb by 617 Squadron on the Bielefeld Viaduct or the use of Tallboy bombs by 617 on the Tirpitz. The SNP campaign could be compared to a First World War biplane dropping bombs out of the cockpit. Nevertheless it was the SNP who won. In 2017 I would imagine the SNP campaign in East Dunbartonshire will be equally pathetic but I think we can safely predict the Lib Dem campaign will be considerably reduced compared to 2015. For one thing, the Lib Dems put out a large amount of literature in the months leading up to the General Election. They haven’t done that this time.
    What else will be different?
    Will Swinson be able to attract the £45,000+ she got in donations last time?
    She can hardly point to anything she has done in the constituency over the last two years.
    The local Lib Dems do not, at the moment, have a paid organiser in the constituency
    Does the leafleting system which last time delivered a huge amount of literature still exist? Not going by the amount of literature the Lib Dems have put out in the local elections.
    The Tories are going to do much better in the local elections and will (well, you would think so but I’m not holding my breath) point that out in their general election leaflets.
    But this time she’s got Brexit to harp on about.
    In 2015 she milked the Tory and Labour vote for all it was worth to vote tactically – and she still didn’t win.
    As for her building up a huge personal vote in the areas which the Boundary Commission is going to add in by the next election I can’t see how it would be any bigger than what she achieved in the existing seat – and she still didn’t win.
    However I will now have to suffer a considerable amount of Swinson-promoting paper coming through my letter box over the next few weeks. I’m no great admirer of John Nicolson but at least he’s as quiet as a mouse.

  41. I know for a fact the Lib Dems do have a paid organiser in East Dunbartonshire (who happens to be a friend of mine) so I don’t know what your source is on that front!

  42. Yes my notionals indicate a 65% No vote in the constituency of East Dunbartonshire in 2014.

  43. James,

    Thank you for that information. My apologies for my incorrect information. It’s just that there has been no indication of such a person working in the area for quite some time. So what this person has been organising I do not know. No leaflets in Bearsden North, apart from a scam leaflet which cleverly disguised who had issued it, for nine moths after the Scottish Parliament elections and only one ward-wide leaflet since. That came through my door at the end of March. A local election campaign in Bearsden with no ward-wide leaflet for three weeks! What are they paying this person for? Moreover I recent asked a friend who delivers for the Lib Dems if he had been consulted over the delivery of further leaflets and he said that he hadn’t. He felt that the Lib Dems would just take him for granted! Again, I ask what kind of an organiser does that?

    Can anyone answer the following question?
    Jo Swinson’s photo has been appearing on Lib Dem local election leaflets in East Dunbartonshire. She has now declared herself as the parliamentary candidate for Dunbartonshire East. If her photo appears on any further Lib Dem local election leaflets to what extent, if any, would they count as a General Election expense?

  44. JohnOgilvie1615 – in the circumstances the answer would presumably be “not at all” for anything produced before the vote confirming the election.

  45. Right now we must be in the “long campaign”. Candidates are allowed to spend over £30k in that promoting themselves.

    The “short campaign” starts when Parliament is dissolved. Spending in that is likely to be about £12k (it depends on the electorate)

    Of course this “long campaign” was designed for a fixed term Parliament. I very much doubt if Jo Swinson will exceed her “long campaign” allowance even if she goes into “Tirpitz” mode…

  46. John Nicolson has announced on his Twitter account that he thinks that the contest in East Dunbartonshire will be a contest between himself and the Tory candidate with the Lib Dems coming third. Jo Swinson has said that it will be a fight between herself and the SNP. Who will be right? Is Nicolson making a strategic error making his campaign into a fight against the Tories rather than against Jo Swinson? Or has the Lib Dem bubble in East Dunbartonshire really burst with 2015 being only the beginning of a long-term decline? And have the Tories in East Dunbartonshire really got the resources and the political acumen to take advantage of their improved electoral position in Scotland. Only another 50 days to find out.

  47. Trying to get any possible Labour switchers on board?

  48. I think given the actual result last time with the same candidates and the fact that the Tories start on 9%, Nicolson just opens himself up to ridicule!

  49. This is all true, and as a fan of the political dark arts I rather admire its barefaced nerve, but why on Earth would Tory voters be following him on Twitter anyway?

  50. The Tories would be mad to put any significant resource into this seat given there are much lower hanging fruit to go for! If they do well in the locals I am sure they will mount a campaign though.

    The Lib Dems nationally are quite cash-rich BTW and I doubt if Swinson will have to worry about money

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