2015 Result:
Conservative: 7325 (12.1%)
Labour: 15130 (25.1%)
Lib Dem: 1225 (2%)
SNP: 34831 (57.7%)
UKIP: 1829 (3%)
MAJORITY: 19701 (32.6%)

Category: Safe SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Central. Part of the Falkirk council area.

Main population centres: Falkirk, Denny, Larbert, Stenhousemuir.

Profile: Falkirk lies roughly midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh at the junction of the Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal. It was originally a heavy industrial town, an early centre for the production of cast iron and steel. Heavy industry has declined in importance here (though the town continues to manufacture buses and many residents are employed in industry in neighbouring Grangemouth), with the local economy now more dominated by retail and administration.

Politics: Falkirk and its predecessor Falkirk West both have a history of returning Labour MPs who left the party and sat as Independents. Dennis Canavan was MP for West Falkirk from its creation in 1983 but was rejected as an official Labour candidate for the Scottish Parliament in 1999. He instead successfully stood as a Independent candidate and was expelled from the party. He resigned from the Westminister Parliament a yeat later, his seat being retaken by Labour and Eric Joyce. Twelve years later Joyce followed Canavan out of the party in much less honourable circumstances having pleaded guilty to charges of assault after a punch-up in a Commons bar. Labour only narrowly defended the 2000 by-election over the SNP who eventually took the seat in the 2015 landslide.

Current MP
JOHN MCNALLY (SNP) Former barber. Falkirk councillor since 2005. Contested Falkirk 2010. First elected as MP for Falkirk in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 5698 (11%)
Lab: 23207 (46%)
LDem: 5225 (10%)
SNP: 15364 (30%)
Oth: 1283 (3%)
MAJ: 7843 (15%)
Con: 4538 (10%)
Lab: 23264 (51%)
LDem: 7321 (16%)
SNP: 9789 (21%)
Oth: 838 (2%)
MAJ: 13475 (29%)
Con: 2321 (8%)
Lab: 16022 (52%)
LDem: 2203 (7%)
SNP: 7490 (24%)
Oth: 2855 (9%)
MAJ: 8532 (28%)
Con: 4639 (12%)
Lab: 22772 (59%)
LDem: 1970 (5%)
SNP: 8989 (23%)
MAJ: 13783 (36%)

2015 Candidates
ALISON HARRIS (Conservative) Chartered accountant.
KAREN WHITEFIELD (Labour) Born 1970, Bellshill. Contested MSP for Airdrie and Shotts 1999-2011.
GALEN MILNE (Liberal Democrat) Contested Banff and Buchan 2010.
DAVID COBURN (UKIP) Born Glasgow. Businessman. Contested Old Bexley and Sidcup 2010. MEP for Scotland since 2014.
JOHN MCNALLY (SNP) Barber. Falkirk councillor since 2005. Contested Falkirk 2010.
Comments - 150 Responses on “Falkirk”
  1. Not sure I’d describe this seat as safe for Labour. It sticks out like a sore thumb in that it swung noticeably to the SNP in 2010, whereas in the rest of industrial central Scotland the opposite was the case. It remains to be seen whether Eric Joyce was unusually unpopular – there is some evidence that this was the case – and whether Labour will do better in 2015 with a new candidate. As things stand, it is an SNP target for sure.

  2. BBC report:

    “MP Eric Joyce has been arrested after reports of a fight in a bar at the Houses of Parliament.

    The independent MP for Falkirk was detained after an incident at the Sports and Social Club bar.

    The Metropolitan Police said officers had been called just before 22:30 GMT, and the arrested man ‘remains in custody and inquiries continue’.”


  3. At this rate he may have to resign.

  4. I think another by-election is approaching. He obviously has mental health issues, and I wouldn’t be overly judgemental about him, but other members need to be protected from his obviously irrational and aggressive behaviour.

  5. The SNP will certainly fancy their chances if a by-election is called here, although the momentum isn’t with them quite as much as it was in Inverclyde, and they still fell short there (albeit from a lower base).

    Whatever happens to Eric Joyce politically, I hope he gets the help he obviously needs.

  6. Eric Joyce has been barred from ordering or consuming alcohol within Parliamentary grounds indefinitely.

  7. I think he was lucky to escape doing time the previous incident. Perhaps now they will do something with him.

  8. I suspect that if the SNP could come within 705 votes of winning Falkirk West in the year 2000 when their general popularity was at a much lower level they shouldn’t have too much trouble winning a Falkirk by-election in 2013.


  9. Actually, a By-Election might end up working in Labour’s favour. After all, we saw the LibDems hold Eastleigh (though that probably had more to do with the shambolic Tory performance than anything else) after Chris Huhne, and the Glasgow Cathcart seat remained Labour when Mike Watson was convicted of wilful fireraising and the seat was all but presented to the SNP on a silver platter.

    In any case, I speak from enough experience to know that the SNP tends to pull its results out of the bag when no one else is expecting it to happen. When people realise there’s a possibility that the SNP could win, the party puts in a Glasgow North East-esque performance.

    Also, there have been a few people musing that if there were a By-Election, the SNP ought to stand aside for Dennis Canavan to stand as an Independent – it’s Canavan’s support for SNP candidates from 2007 onwards that’s boosted their results.

  10. Has anyone done that new ‘class calculator’ ?

    There are seven new social classes apparantly:

    Established middle class
    Technical middle class
    New affluent workers
    Traditional working class
    Emergent service workers

    Falkirk is the top location for one of these groups.

    Can you guess which?

  11. Controversy surrounding a supposed frontrunner for the Labour nomination here:


  12. Any news on Major. Joyce standing down?

  13. Police decided to drop charges regarding the second acccident last month

  14. We should have a recall system in this country. I’d be furious if this man like this or Bill Walker the former SNP MSP in Dunfermline was my local “representative”

  15. Labour have decided to make this an AWS – more news on the controversial decision:


  16. Labour have now placed the local association into special measures, and frozen the membership as it was on March 12th when Joyce announced he was standing down. Unite have put out a rather cross statement rejecting the special measures.


  17. Its probably just as well Joyce will stay put until the election

  18. i think eric joyce is a disgrace

  19. Mike – Joyce had hinted about standing down early in protest if Labour didn’t take action over the selection, so presumably this reduces the chances of him doing so.

  20. I don’t think he could afford to, Anthony!

  21. Almost two years parliamentary salary and pension contribution.

    Is it also true that if an MP defends their seat instead of retiring that this enhances their pension package?

  22. By defend I ment standing again (without any serious intention to win) and losing as opposed to retiring.

  23. It certainly used to be true.

    Not sure whether the rules have changed now. And in any case, MPs’ pensions are far more generous than they used to be 20-30 years ago so there’s probably less financial need to do that.

  24. To be fair there is – what other job can end this way? It can be hard for some Mps to get work afterwards. Particularly the hardworking constituency .mp

  25. For that reason there is a good case for generous pensions and resettlement grants for ex-MPs. But they need to be funded more from their own salaries and less from the taxpayer.

    I think it would be fair to give MPs a good pay rise in exchange for them funding more of their own pension, and ending the cancer of both expenses abuse and the lobbying scandals.

  26. I agree. It also seems daft that MP’s pay for offices and staff through an expenses system.

  27. Mike

    Somebody gave me a DVD box-set of “Our Friends in the North” for Christmas. I’ve just got round to re-watching it. Did you ever see it? It certainly seems like something that would be just up your street.

    It was filmed around 1995-96 and perfectly captures that mood of the time, that all the problems of the last 20-30 years were down to the evil Tories, and that New Labour was a clean white knight in shining armour that was shortly going to charge into Downing Street and we would all live happily ever after. It’s exceptionally interesting to re-watch it with knowledge of what actually happened after 1997, in the era of extreme cynicism that we are now in.

  28. Very good indeed I think a healthy dose of cynicism never did anyone any harm.

    I don’t think I can ever remember a time when there was less respect for politicians and political parties

  29. What needs to happen is MPs should get paid a competitive salary say about £120,000 or more. That way you can attract talented people such as headteachers, doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, civil servants, academics to serve the country without having to take a massive pay cut. In return, to save money to fund the pay rise, you scrap all expenses, allowances and IPSA so MPs will have pay their staff, pay for their travel and other business. They will also have to be a ban on second jobs too. Parliament would be better with such reform.

  30. MPs pensions are not related to if MPs stand again or retire.

    Since 1971 MPs standing down didn’t get the resettlement grant. Then (1983) the system was changed and retiring MPs would get resettlement grants even if retiring on their own. In 2010 MPs retiring got it. However, under IPSA reforms, it was changed back to the old system with just MPs being voted out getting a grant to adjust to their new life.

  31. William Hamilton (Labour MP for Central Fife, 1974 to 1983) stood again in the safe Conservative seat of South Hams in Devon, where he came third, polling just 8% of the vote.

    Perhaps by doing so he have had a better retirement package if the rules changed in 1983.

    James Hill also stood again in Southampton Test in 1997, despite boundary changes that turned his former constituency into a notional Labour seat. This would have been like John Wheeler or Dudley Fishburn standing in Regents Park & Kensington North in 1997.

  32. @Anthony Wells

    Report on BBC that Unite are suing the Labour Party over
    allegations of Unite ‘packing’ the membership.

  33. If I were the SNP, I would select a (local) candidate as soon as possible.

  34. The chaos in the selection of the Labour candidate for 2015 in Falkirk is damaging the credibility of the Labour Party in Scotland.

    The Scottish Labour Party is led by Joanne Lamont (that is supposed to include MPs not just MSPs), but so far she has made no comment at all on this issue, leading to general comment that she is very much not in charge of the Labour Party in Scotland.

    This selection shambles also damages the Labour Party in the UK, and if the polls show a further narrowing in Labour’s UK lead, expect to see a boost for the Yes campaign as Scots come to fear that a Tory or Tory led government will be returned in 2015.

  35. I reckon if English voters had a vote in this referendum many of them would vote Yes out of fear of a Labour led government in 2015, enabled by Scottish voters who actually now have a limited stake in the issues decided at Westminster and who seem unprepeared to allow Labour to govern them at Edinburgh

  36. I am a unionist despite all the political difficulties (although not quite so emphatically as before)
    but there is no chance whatsoever of Scotland voting yes to independence.
    It’ll be rejected by perhaps as much as 75% to 25%.
    I have no doubt whatsover, though, that if the whole of Britain voted,
    they’d be kicked out.

  37. Joe James B

    There is no polling support for either of your predictions.

    The former contention will be proved wrong, at least insofar as the 75:25 is concerned.

    If the people of England wish Scotland to be removed, that cannot be done by an all Britain vote as that could result in an attempt to keep Scotland in the union against its will-a recipe for turmoil.

    However there is nothing to prevent a referendum in England to remove themselves from the Scotland/England union. That would have exactly the same result, but would be politically and constitutionally coherent.

    A referendum won’t happen because the UK Governments of any stripe can see distinct advantages of many types in holding on to Scotland.

    Even if there were an England only referendum the majority would vote “No” as they would not want to lose part of what the majority regard as their country-Britain or Greater England.

  38. can we perhaps ditch the conspiracy theory stuff and get back to psephology again?

  39. “Even if there were an England only referendum the majority would vote “No” as they would not want to lose part of what the majority regard as their country-Britain or Greater England.”

    That is a very naïve view indeed. I can only conclude that you have little idea of the modern-day culture of southern England, in particular, where the largest part of England’s population lives.

    There are many many millions of people who never venture outside of London and the South East, except to fly abroad on holiday. They’ve hardly ever been to Birmingham, let alone the north of England or Scotland. They do not know anything nor care anything about Scotland…many if not most have never visited, a surprising number couldn’t identify it on a map.

    Your view seems to be garnered from watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot, where the southern English are dominated by upper-class gentlemen who can’t wait to get up to the Highlands to put on their tweeds and blast the grouse. If southern England ever was like that, it certainly isn’t now.

    All the vast majority of people in the south of England know of Scotland on an ongoing basis are the flickerings in the media about the independence debate, which is often portrayed here as the Scots being subsidised by England and yet still moaning that they are badly treated. You will probably be aware that numerous polls of the English have suggested that there is a majority in favour of the Scots leaving the union and from my own circle of friends and contacts that seems to be quite an accurate gauge of current feeling here.

    I say all this out of sorrow, as I personally love Scotland and would be sad to see it go.

  40. Not sure there have been polls showing a majority in England favour Scotland leaving the union. However there have certainly been some showing a greater level of support for Scottish independence in England than in Scotland.

    Tom, I am not sure that Joe James B’s prediction can be dismissed as entirely lacking in foundation. It was only back in January that the Guardian reported the Scottish Social Attitudes study to have found support for maintaining the union to be at 72%.

    I don’t think a defeat for the Yes side on that kind of scale is likely, not least because if it did look as though that might happen some Scots might switch to supporting independence it of a feeling that the independence side should not be routed, even if defeat was seemingly certain. It’s not utterly out of the question though.

  41. H .Hemmelig &Kieran W
    “You will probably be aware that numerous polls of the English have suggested that there is a majority in favour of the Scots leaving the union”

    Incidentally I don’t recall ever being called naïve by anyone who know me-though I have been called “nothing if not clever” 🙂

    I think Kieran W’s recollection on the polls is more accurate, though by all means prove me wrong.

    In the Scottish Social attitudes survey (2012) you only get to 72% if, in effect, you assume that all those who have a preference for more devolution will therefore vote “No” in the forced choice between “No” and Yes” to independence.

    Bearing in mind that in the same poll 23% favoured independence and only 11% no devolution, I call that a heroic assumption

  42. My guess is that Linda Gow, a moderate and the whistleblower, will be selected but maybe a woman from outside Falkirk – like Melanie Ward – could be selected. Poor Greg Poyntor, Labour should find him another safe Scottish seat – maybe Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath?

  43. Frankly the shenanigans, irrespective of right or wrong, will mean either an SNP win, or perhaps someone else Independent. Dennis Canavan was very popular and these sort of public wrangles can make people want to look outside the parties

  44. My comment was over the top about Salmond – apologies.

  45. Another angle on the likely “Yes” % in the 2014 comes from the bookies-consider it a very real poll of how the money is talking.

    Paddy Power are now expecting “Yes” to achieve 41.5 % of the Referendum Vote per today’s betting (13 July) .

    If that does not sound that great, it compares with 32.5% on the 16th of May, I have the betting slip to prove that 🙂

    Not a bad swing in 2 months, I would say.

  46. I suspect that Linda Gow, or a completely outside candidate like Melanie Ward or Mandy Telford, would be suitable. In a General Election, Falkirk will vote to stay Labour but if Joyce resigned – this seat would go to SNP probably with Dennis Canavan as the candidate.

  47. Probably caused by a very low level of betting at the moment causing the market to fluctuate before it has settled down.

    In the last 2 months if anything the SNP seem to have lost ground to labour – Donside being the best example.

  48. I would agree Linda Gow (who is a former leader of Falkirk council) is probably the favourite. Maybe someone like Catherine Stihler (Scotland MEP) or Claire Baker (list MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife) could also be a contender.

  49. I think this seat is now losable even in a general election, indeed I thought that even before recent events. It could still just about be saved by Labour but I suspect it will be close.

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