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. I agree – as I mentioned before, I think the SNP need to select soon to take advantage (John McNally who stood here in 2010 would be a good choice).

  2. “Poor Greg Poyntor, Labour should find him another safe Scottish seat – maybe Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath?”

    is that why Gordon Brown is threatening to stand again?


    why do you think Stihler and Baker would be a good feature here? I would have thought Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath would have been a better place for them if they want a parliamentary career.

  3. @Andrea
    Gregor Poynton only wanted to stand here because he gre up in the constituency, and his parents and family still live there. I doubt he’d be as interested in someone else’s hometown.

  4. Eric should defect to the LibDems… muddy the waters… After all it was only Conservatives who were roughed up in the melee so there is no reason not to have him join us… !

    Might teach some of our MPs about the rough and tumble…

    On a more serious note, EJ is a credible figure on the subject of mining where MPs with a knowledge of the subject are few and far between..

  5. believe me, you don’t want Eric defecting to you….

  6. One of the few seats in Scotland where the Labour share noticeably declined in 2010.

  7. We are a broad church… with a bar attached…

  8. Andy is quite right of course, and I still think that Joyce must be unusually unpopular for a Scottish Labour MP (as of course he then was) within his constituency. It may be that getting rid of Joyce will help the party in 2015, but of course the effect of the fallout re the selection of a candidate may equally play into the SNP’s hands.

  9. The revolving door in Falkirk…


    Eric Joyce must be having a chuckle…

  10. An interesting list of candidates both actual and suggested given the whole issue here is over Unite’s plan to get more working class candidates selected.

    Karie Murphy – SPAD to Tom Watson
    Linda Gow – Council Leader
    Melanie Ward – NUS, Researcher to David Blunkett, Political Adviser to Christian Aid and Action Aid
    Mandy Telford – NUS, Unite, SPAD to Tessa Jowell
    Catherine Stihler – MEP
    Claire Baker – MSP
    Gregor Poynton – Blue State Digital

    Now it’s not to say that any of those suggested wouldn’t be capable of representing Falkirk, they probably all would. However, are there no likely candidates from the local Oil Refinery, NHS, Schools or other walks of life?

  11. Exactly. Unite seem unable to understand that working for them as a “political officer” or SPAD does not make someone working class by most people’s definition. They are as much a part of the bubble political class as the rest of them.

  12. Some of those candidates (Gregor Poynton and Linda Gow) are not on Unite’s favourite list.

    I think Murphy is an officer manager rather than a SpAd.

    but the issue highlighted remains. If you look at the list of their 41 backed candidates for this year’s selections, there are many political “insiders” (for insiders, I mean people already connected someway to the high level political world. Former MPs, senior councillors, CLP Chairs, trade union officers).

    Infact, some of their winning candidates would have been selected anyway regardless of the Unite backing as they already had the political profile to get the nomination.

    It’s not particularly surprising as people wanting to stand as MP (for an established party) usually have a political background and they don’t wake one day thinking “oh yes, I see a parliamentary selection advert in my email box. Let’s try to become an MP next month”. And even if they do, they would likely be smashed away by more experienced candidates who know “how to move” in a parliamentary selection process.

    Instead of attempting to recruit voting members, Unions should focus more in developping training programmes for their potential parliamentary candidates. It would be an occasion to involve people who would not naturally go for it giving them a fighting chance. They can also logistically support them. That’s what Blairite Progress has done for years.

  13. Some afters from the row at Falkirk.There’s a strike threatened at the Grangemouth refinery over alleged victimization of the Unite convenor there due to his involvement in the Falkirk selection process. Not quite sure what is going on, possibly the convenor was spending time at Falkirk when he should have been at Grangemouth but it’s true to say there’s a strong possibility of the refinery closing if there is a strike.

  14. It was rumoured that evidence for the Labour investigation were withdrawn because of the guy risking his job.

  15. SNP: 42%
    LAB: 41%
    UKIP: 8%
    CON: 7%
    LD: 3%

  16. @Hemellig

    ‘Exactly. Unite seem unable to understand that working for them as a “political officer” or SPAD does not make someone working class by most people’s definition. They are as much a part of the bubble political class as the rest of them.’

    Completely agreed.

    Incidentally I took the class test on the BBC website and I got ‘technical middle class’.


    (I’m 25, live at home with comfortable middle class parents and a struggling to find fulfilling employment).

  17. It is not a very accurate test. I come out as “elite” despite in my view being quite ordinary.

    I really hope your career works itself out. The most important thing is to be persistent and not to give up.

    Do you have any ambition to work in politics? You obviously have some background and connections in Labour. Someone has to be a SPAD so why not you.

  18. No I am not a member of the Labour Party as I do not want to get sucked into the party machine, especially not in Scotland.

    Edinburgh South CLP is a hardworking CLP which doesn’t really require my assistance.

  19. A Brown – just to endorse HH’s comment, whilst I can appreciate how difficult it must be it really is worth plugging away. Just that one chance that comes along is all it really takes – you then work really hard and the following career moves become far easier as that experience and confidence becomes apparent from your CV.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what type of career are you looking to get into?

  20. A Brown – your psephological knowledge is pretty good, especially for someone in your age group. Maybe you could put it to some professional use?
    It occurs to me that perhaps Pete or I should try & write a new British Political Almanac, although perhaps both of us would be better at describing the constituencies than the MPs in detail – it wouldn’t be enough for either of us to air our (extremely different!) prejudices or views. There’s a gap in the market now Waller & Criddle are no longer collaborating. Very oddly I used to know Andrew Roth, who wrote potted biographies of MPs for a living, because he was friendly with my then girlfriend’s father. Unlike the girlfriend (who now has an OBE!) or her father, Roth was a Labour Party member.

  21. According to Twitter, Labour have selected local activist Pam Duncan.

  22. Apologies! Misread a tweet, ignore me!

  23. Barnaby you must have more ex-girlfriends than Nick Clegg and Robin Hood combined 😉
    Robert Waller did actually mention in another place that the reason he and Byron Criddle stopped doing the Almanac was a threat of legal action from an MP who was unhappy with the description. It would probably be prudent therefore not to employ Tim Jones in the Byron Criddle role.
    It’s a great shame that they’ve had to stop for this reason but while I greatly welcomed the addition of the MP descriptions which were very informative and entertaining (not as entertaining I dare say as Tim’s would be) it was always the constituency description which was the main draw and if the Almanac will not be revived it would be good to have a replacement. Robert did also say that it is a labour of love and that there’s very little money to be made out of it, but then that’s always been understood in this game.

  24. Might you know where I could snatch up a copy of their past books Pete?

  25. AbeBooks has a wide selection of second hand copies.

  26. Pete – you are completely incorrect. Considering that I didn’t get married until 29, I almost certainly have a below-average number of ex-girlfriends. This particular one was a major one, with whom I was associated for a year, who now has an OBE, and with whom I am still very friendly.

  27. http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/unite-alone-can-t-resist-cameron-s-smear-campaign-1.1255419

    No more time wasting here now that a ‘disabled’ policy researcher has been selected for Falkirk.

  28. She has not been selected yet. Deadline for applications for Labour selection in next Thursday. Scotsman says so far 4 people applied: Pam Duncan ((policy officer for disabled people’s charity Inclusion Scotland), Monica Lennon (South Lanarkshire Cllr, works for Tom Greatrex) , Karen Whitefield (former MSP for Airdrie and Shotts) and Linda Gow (former Falkirk council leader, also in the original race)

  29. Linda Gow has been kept off the shortlist by NEC/SEC panel. Duncan, Whitefield and Lennon are the final 3 standing. Selection on December 8th

  30. Karen Whitefield is selected as the Labour candidate

  31. Prediction for 2015-
    Labour- 44%
    SNP- 36%
    Conservative- 8%
    Liberal Democrats- 6%
    UKIP- 4%
    Others- 2%

  32. I think it will be closer than that, but I hope you’re right & I’m wrong. If Labour survives here,there will probably be no SNP gains from Labour anywhere though Ochil & S Perthshire is potentially tricky too.

  33. I must admit I’m intrigued with the Scottish seat situation in a post referendum Scotland if there was indeed a ‘No’ vote in Spetember.

    Personally I can’t see the SNP doing well, and when I say well I mean gaining seats, however I can see there vote holding up nationally as I think 20% is probably their core vote in Scotland.

    Focusing on Falkirk inparticular, I think Labour have made a poor choice here, they needed a local candidate who could unite (excuse the pun!) the local area and the local party, however choosing a defeated MSP from Airdrie doesn’t seem sensible. Saying that I think the result will be pretty similar to 2010, Labour may even increase their share here in the short run as there must have been Labour supporters who would not vote for Eric Joyce.

    Looking nationally in the event of a No vote then I think the result will be within 2% of

    Labour 44% SNP 22% Tory 20% Lib Dem 8% UKIP 2% Oth 4%

  34. King Tut, the Tory vote is far too high in that prediction – there is no way, even given a No vote, that they will approach 20% in 2015.
    I struggle to make predictions this far out when it comes to vote share, but I think Labour will hold the seat with a vote share not too far from what it was in 2010.
    I think that the SNP, even given a No, would hope to be over 30%.
    It is too hard to guess to be honest.

  35. I agree with Catholic Left. I am still nervous about this seat however.

  36. Its very hard to predict. My instincts say that in 2 years the worst will be behind the labour party here.

  37. Any word on the SNP plans for this seat? Or are they waiting till after the referendum to decide candidates for 2015?

    I think this seat depends a lot on the referendum. If the SNP win independence, they’ll go on to win this seat.

  38. Given that most people are predicting that a No vote would make 2015 a difficult year for the SNP, it’s worth considering the alternative, unlikely as it may be at the present moment.

    If there’s a Yes vote, it won’t be the SNP who are divided but the unionist parties and Labour will be hit worst. You’d expect recriminations, retirements and open schisms between those saying independence has to be accepted and those wanting a do-over.

    Meanwhile we’d have constant arguments between Salmond and Whitehall about the terms and timetable for independence, which would serve to incite nationalist sentiment and which Labour wouldn’t be able to effectively respond to.

    Scottish MPs in a post-referendum pre-independence Westminster Parliament would essentially be there to negotiate the terms of the settlement. There’s therefore a case for believing that the results would more closely resemble Holyrood elections than previous Westminster ones, which would benefit the SNP. Combine that with Labour weakness and divisions and it wouldn’t just be Falkirk that would be lost.

    As it is, I expect No to win the referendum by around 20 points, but if the converse occurs then it will not be a static election.

  39. Eric Joyce has said he’ll consider whether to stand down in the next few days, after being fined £1,500 in Court and ordered to pay compensation of £150 plus costs.

  40. I thought he was already retiring – seems little point in creating a by-election this close to the end of the parliament.

  41. I feel really sorry for him. You can tell that the man has real anxiety issues just from the way he holds himself.

  42. I predict he will stand down in the summer thus creating a by election to be held on referendum day, Sept 18th.

  43. Wonder if the SNP might try to persuade Dennis Canavan to stand here.

  44. No chance.

    He’s retired, and doesn’t like the SNP (or he’d have joined it).

  45. If this seat could be halved in size and joined up with bits of the Borders seats the Tories could win it with an 8% swing.

    Falkirk South, Tweeddale and E Renrewshire South Central.

  46. That’s reminiscent of how some Tories were getting frightfully excited about the creation of Sunderland Central – apparently giving themselves an outside shot in an area which is usually woeful for them. In the event they failed very easily in that seat. I suspect you’re being a lot less serious than they were at the time.

  47. The fewer elected representatives and activists the Tories have in Scotland, the less likely the boundaries are to be drawn in their favour. This is surely a major factor behind so many of their most winnable seats being abolished in the past 20 years – Ayr, Pentlands, Galloway, Perth & Kinross etc etc. However much Tory activists fantasise about ideal Tory constituencies being recreated, the massive power of Labour and the SNP on the ground in Scotland will ensure that they are not. Therefore all this fantasising is a waste of brain power.

  48. Why has there been no by-election here? He’s been kicked out the labour party and prosecuted for assault?

  49. Erm, because he hasn’t resigned his seat.

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