North East Fife

2015 Result:
Conservative: 7373 (16.3%)
Labour: 3476 (7.7%)
Lib Dem: 14179 (31.3%)
SNP: 18523 (40.9%)
Green: 1387 (3.1%)
Independent: 325 (0.7%)
MAJORITY: 4344 (9.6%)

Category: Marginal SNP seat

Geography: Scotland, Mid Scotland and Fife. Part of the Fife council area.

Main population centres: St. Andrews, Cupar, Newport-on-Tay, Newburgh, Auchtermuchty, Anstruther, Ladybank, Pittenweem.

Profile: The "East Neuk" end of the Fife peninsula, this is a prosperous rural area, popular with tourists and for second homes and far less industrial than other parts of Fife. The electorate is spread across a large number of small towns, the largest is St Andrews, home to the famous golf course and Scotland`s oldest university.

Politics: North East Fife has a long Liberal tradition - it was once represented by Herbert Asquith, the Liberal Prime Minister. The Liberal MPs here in the 20s and 30s were part of the factions who backed the National Government and would eventually merge into the Conservative party after the Second World War bringing this seat with them - it was represented by a National Liberal MP from 1929 until 1961 and the victor of the 1961 by-election stood as a Conservative and National Liberal candidate. With the final extinction of the National Liberals it remained a Conservative seat until 1987 when it was won by Menzies Campbell, later to serve as Lib Dem leader. The similar North East Fife seat in the Scottish Parliament was gained by the SNP in 2011, and the Westminster seat followed in 2015.

Current MP
STEPHEN GETHINS (SNP) Educated at Dundee University. Former consultant and advisor to Alex Salmond. First elected as MP for Fife North East in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 8715 (22%)
Lab: 6869 (17%)
LDem: 17763 (44%)
SNP: 5685 (14%)
Oth: 1032 (3%)
MAJ: 9048 (23%)
Con: 7517 (19%)
Lab: 4920 (13%)
LDem: 20088 (52%)
SNP: 4011 (10%)
Oth: 2020 (5%)
MAJ: 12571 (33%)
Con: 8190 (24%)
Lab: 3950 (11%)
LDem: 17926 (52%)
SNP: 3596 (10%)
Oth: 1030 (3%)
MAJ: 9736 (28%)
Con: 11076 (26%)
Lab: 4301 (10%)
LDem: 21432 (51%)
SNP: 4545 (11%)
Oth: 485 (1%)
MAJ: 10356 (25%)

2015 Candidates
HUW BELL (Conservative) Business consultant and former RAF officer.
BRIAN THOMSON (Labour) Born St Andrews. Chartered town planner. Fife councillor since 2012.
TIM BRETT (Liberal Democrat) Educated at Gravesend Grammar school For Boys and Bristol University. Former NHS manager. Fife councillor since 2003.
STEPHEN GETHINS (SNP) Educated at Dundee University. Consultant and former advisor to Alex Salmond.
Comments - 392 Responses on “Fife North East”
  1. This idea that many Scots will tactically vote Tory seems pretty unlikely, and given that the Tories are uncompetitive without tactical voting, I think they’re not going to win here.

  2. I think the only innovation we’ll see in terms of tactical voting in Scotland this election is the lack of it, as the Liberal Democrats are no longer viewed as a suitable vote-lending vehicle in many of the seats they have previously been strong, and the SNP are no longer seen as a wasted vote in any seat in the country.

    The only other example of tactical voting that could be prevalent is Greens voting SNP, which I am actually unsure will come to fruition. In any case, it’s difficult to figure out from polling how many Greens and how many Nats there are, and I would speculate that the movement between both parties is currently quite fluid in terms of different votes for different elections.

  3. Euro Election
    Labour – 28,101 – 30.7%
    SNP – 25,660 – 28.0%
    Conservative – 12,460 – 13.6%
    UKIP – 9,515 – 10.4%
    Lib Dem – 7,956 – 8.7%
    Green – 5,975 – 6.5%
    Britain First – 892 – 1.0%
    BNP – 640 – 0.7%
    NO2EU – 407 – 0.4%

    Tories up 0.9%, Lib Dems down 4.6%, hardly the resounding success you are painting it as. Evidence from the council elections, and indeed national trends, is that the Lib Dem decline would have been more marked in Dunfermline than NE Fife. The Tories probably did beat the Lib Dems in NE Fife, but I’d imagine they did in 2009 as well. Tory tactical voting for Lib Dem is much more likely than the other way around. The Tories will be third here.

  4. The Lib Dem vote in Fife would be concentrated here and to a lesser extent in Dumfermline & West Fife.

    They will have got almost nothing in Glenrothes or Kirkcauldy & Cowdenbeith.

  5. I stick to evidence of modest Scots Tory recovery in national Scottish polls, but even if the party stagnates or the modest gains of 2010 are reversed, a LD collapse from 19% to 4% will be felt here and very significantly. Truth on the doorstep, the LD vote is collapsing, and splitting more to the SNP, but with a very large proportion going to the Conservatives.

    The Referendum is driving Scottish politics, and in areas like NEF, reputed to have gone about 66% for No, this gives a well organised Unionist party a very good chance of securing victory.

    Despite this fairly hard evidence, LD leaning posters on near every Scottish seat posit remarkable holds in spite of all national trends.

    Orkney and Shetland and RS&L are the only reasonably probable LD holds.

    If the Conservatives are not able to win here, they will come second to the SNP, who for now seem the favourites. The danger is LD nonsense about their vote holding up splits the large anti-SNP vote.

  6. The most similar seat polled by Ashcroft to this one would be Aberdeenshire West. Changes in that seat applied to this one would give:
    SNP – 37%
    Lib Dem – 26%
    Conservative – 17%
    Labour – 13%

    These sorts of figures look roughly what I would expect to see. The 2012 elections clearly show that the Lib Dems are still well organised here, this seat along with East Dunbartonshire and (weirdly) Aberdeen South were probably the seats where the Lib Dems performed best. I will predict the SNP to win over the LDs and then Cons. The LDs could still hold if the SNP vote were to unravel, as some predict (though I think it unlikely). Tactical voting from Cons to LD could get the LDs over the line, but even if the Tories were in, and could show, that they were in second place (and I strongly doubt they are or can) then they would not be able to squeeze LD and Labour votes to win. It would more likely benefit the SNP.


    “If you had been knocking on doors with me last night in North East Fife, I was going to door after door where people were saying to me: ‘I’m a Conservative but round here I’m going to vote Liberal Democrat because that gets the message I want.’

    “I didn’t have to tell them that. They’re intelligent enough to do it for themselves.”

  8. This is the problem with tactical voting – some Tories will vote LD and some LD will vote Tory, both thinking they are being really clever. I suppose an Ashcroft poll may help, but even that would probably be contested if it showed little difference between LD and Con.

    There has been a stushie in Dumfries and Galloway because a unionist tactical voting group has suggested voting Tory. This has annoyed the local Labour Party no end because they have the incumbent MP there (Russell Brown). There has been an Ashcroft poll there, which showed the SNP narrowly ahead of both Con and Lab.

  9. No incumbent, and a clever and articulate SNP candidate, tells me to expect an SNP gain here.

  10. Ashcroft

    SNP 43
    LD 30
    LAB 9
    CON 16
    O 2

  11. Thankfully it looks as though we can now rule out the utterly ridiculous Tory ramping in this seat.

  12. I’m with Iain on this. This poll is much closer to what I’ve thought for awhile. It’s always been so confusing to me why people though the Tories would come second.

  13. expect an SNP gain but it will probably be closer than the poll, maybe margin of 5-7%?

  14. Again, the Ashcroft polls show a decline for the Tory vote everywhere. I do find this strange, as you would expect it to hold up in some seats where the Lib Dem vote declines.

    Is it the case that, whereas the center-left Lib Dems abandon the party entirely for SNP, Labour and Green, the center-right Lib Dems are remaining with the ship?

  15. I think Piemonteis may be correct. The Lib Dems are becoming more of a center-right force in Scotland right now, I think.

  16. @ Piemonteis – yes in my view Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polls have generally underestimated the Unionist vote, particularly for the Tories – the polls at the moment suggest that the Tories are hovering somewhere are 17-18% of the vote.

    @ John Smith – I agree, but I think this is one of the most likely SNP gains of the night.

  17. NTY UK

    18% has been the upper VI limit for the Conservatives’ share in Scotland, and as recently as last week one TNS poll showed Conservative VI at 13%. Indeed, since the turn of the year, they have tended to be within a range of 14-16%.

    So the polls are showing that they’re slightly down, but Ashcroft polling is showing reductions of 4-6% anywhere their habitual vote share is 10%+, which does some too large a drop.

  18. If Campbell had stood again, it would probably be a narrow Lib Dem hold. But with the loss of the personal vote and with the surge for the SNP, I will say narrow SNP gain.

  19. LDems did surprising well here: they received a higher % vote than in SP despite the fact that the constituency includes SNP-voting Leven.

  20. The Scottish Liberal Democrat vote is heavily concentrated on what might be termed establishment seats (it would have been difficult to be more establismnent than Sir Menzies Campbell). The LibDems could have good prospects here if they find a suitably high profile candidate, probably a St. Andrews graduate.

  21. agreed, this area held up suprising well for them considering ming stood down too

  22. The Lib Dems are claiming that Willie Rennie is in with a chance in the equivalent Holyrood seat to this one –


  23. I put a bet on Edinburgh West because i feel the circumstances are unique and I think we can credibly make a gain.

    Gaining Fife NE would be amazing but I don’t think it will happen. Unless Willie Rennie is incredibly popular there are no real factors which would ensure a swing great enough here for us to win.

    I think we are just trying to hype up our Scottish leader and trying to encourage the tactical vote. It would be nice to win, but I think unrealistic.

  24. About as credible as when they said they had a great chance of defeating Salmond in Gordon last year.

  25. They never seem to learn do they?

  26. Nope.

  27. I’m assuming the bar charts have made an appearance here? lol


  29. sorry

  30. Good for the Lib Dems. The SNP probably have no business holding this seat anyway…

  31. I honestly though we were ramping far too much claiming Willie Rennie could win. Wow.

  32. Wouldn’t have seen that coming, Willie Rennie must be quite a campaigner. Congratulations to him

  33. Roderick Campbell’s vote increased from 11,029 to 11,463.

    Perhaps an example of the Lib Dems being able to squeeze the unionist vote.

    The Westminster constituency is more secure with additional working class costal communities in Leven further South and boundary changes should aid the SNP further absorbing Methill and Buckhaven.

  34. True, an alternative (and more credible) boundary arrangement would be the joining of rural south Perth & Kinross with the north east of Fife, creating a highly diverse seat with a split opposition against the SNP from the Tories of Perthshire to the Liberals of Fife.


    There are the list votes for this seat. First 5 parties:

    SNP: 10,860
    LD: 9,054
    CON: 8,260
    GREEN: 2,665
    LAB: 2,427

  36. There is obvious potential for a unionist party to win this seat in 2020.

  37. I’m curious as to where the student vote in this seat goes. I chatted with a friend who was at St Andrews at the time of the referendum, and was informed that the university was full of English students, with a rather large contingent of Americans, and was consequently very strongly unionist. The Liberal Democrats are notoriously unpopular with students, but of course tuition fees are a devolved issue and do not apply north of the border, at least for British students. So are the Liberal Democrats perhaps less toxic to Scottish students?

  38. St Andrews is traditionally solid Liberal territory, although is a comparably good area for the Conservatives versus the North East Fife average. I remember reading somewhere that St Andrews students’ are the most Conservative in Scotland (who apparently took most of the student vote here in 2015).

  39. The Conservatives cannot win here.

    This constituency is an entrenched Liberal-SNP battleground; even if they do well on the list vote tactical voting makes this seat out of contention: just like Edinburgh Southern, just like East Lothian.

    If a South Tayside constituency is created (joining the northern portion of NE Fife with the rural south of Perth & Kinross) it is difficult to see this constituency going any way other than SNP in 2020. If the SNP fall back in support it could become a three-way marginal, although generally speaking any vote drop in the SNP should roll over to the Lib Dems, which should bring this seat out of contention for the party for 2020.

  40. To be honest, any way of expanding the seat helps the SNP. Going further south into Fife means you start getting into more industrial areas, which means the Lib Dems would struggle, while adding in Kinross or whatever creates confusion about who unionists should vote for.

  41. I believe the entitlement is something like 3.5.

    My own suggestion-

    Dunfermline & West Fife; covering Dunfermline, all wards located west of the town and Dalgety Bay
    Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath; covering Kirkcaldy, Lochs, Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath
    Glenrothes & East Fife: covering wards in Glenrothes, Methil and East Neuk
    South Tayside: covering remaining portion of Fife plus the south of Perth & Kinross located to the south of the River Tay.

  42. The Kinross and North East Fife section of the proposed constituency has Liberal traditions, with the Conservatives doing better around south Perthshire.

    Simon is correct.

  43. What they do with it probably depends which other surrounding areas need help to fit neatly in quota. Fife and Clackmannan must be pretty close to a quota of 4, which would be another option, and ought to lead to 4 relatively good SNP seats. I think that NTYUK’s proposed South Tayside (which needs another name, given that Tayside is associated with the old region) would go SNP to start with, but would very rapidly end up pretty marginal. If adopted, coming second in 2020 would be crucial for either the Tories or the Lib Dems. It would be essential for future bar charts.

  44. My suggestion is primarily to keep the towns of Fife together. It works with the rest of Scotland.

  45. Pretty sure you could achieve much the same combining Fife and Clackmannanshire to get 4 seats. Something like Clackmannan and West Fife, which would take in everything west of Dunfermline, then Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath in the next seat. Then something like Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes, and then North East Fife, which would be the present seat plus the Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss ward (I think – can’t find the exact boundaries right now).

  46. Neither option is ideal. Clackmannan has usually either been combined with either South Perthshire, as now, or with parts of Stirling, and Fife has never had any half-seats. Then again Perth & Kinross usually go together, and overlap there tends to be joined to Angus or Dundee City. So whatever option they go with will be somewhat innovative.

  47. If we blindly follow Simon’s ideal then we need a three council seat and serious community break ups in Fife, all in the name of precedence when Clackmannanshire has historically joined Perthshire, Stirling and Falkirk: precedence is almost meaningless if a better solution exists where communities are better represented. Remember we are LOSING constituencies: if we aim to keep things the same in some areas we will have a mess in others, such as Fife.

    Recreating Ochil and South Perthshire would result in fife being joined onto Edinburgh or Dundee, unnecessary stupidity.

  48. The reason that I said neither was ideal was because I’m not sure that either West Fife would want to be in with Clackmannan, or that the north of Fife would be desperately keen on being in with Kinross/Perthshire.

    Obviously either 4 seats between Clackmannan and Fife or 5 between Fife and P&K is less bad than having Fife joined with Edinburgh or Dundee. I guess that whichever of these they go with will depend on what the knock-on implications are. If P&K can be neatly worked out with Dundee/Angus, then they are quite likely to do that, and then join Fife and Clackmannan, unless that then causes chaos elsewhere.

    There aren’t really ideal solutions when a distinct, historical area such as Fife isn’t entitled to a whole number of seats. That’s what happens if you want a rigid quota to apply to all seats.

  49. Joining Clackmannanshire with Fife will cause chaos in Fife. My arrangement creates some neat seats between Angus and Aberdeenshire; joining Perth with Angus also works (allowing for a seat based in Perth and another based in North Tayside).

  50. Why would it cause chaos? Very roughly, you could have something like
    NE Fife – Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, Tay Bridgehead, St Andrews, East Neuk and Landward, Cupar, Leven,
    Kennoway and Largo, and Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss Villages wards.
    Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes – 3 urban Kirkcaldy wards, 3 Glenrothes wards, Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy ward.
    Dunfermline and Cowdenbeath – 3 Dunfermline wards, Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly & Cardenden, Inverkeithing & Dalgety Bay, and Rosyth
    Clackmannan and West Fife – 5 Clackmannan wards, West Fife and Coastal Villages, the Lochs.

    Obviously those can be tweaked slightly depending how much the commission feels the need to stick to whole wards. I think they could be improved somewhat in terms of communities by splitting wards, but that brings different drawbacks.I haven’t checked electorate sizes, but they are a basis for sensible seats in Fife.

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