Paisley & Renfrewshire South

2015 Result:
Conservative: 3526 (7.6%)
Labour: 17864 (38.6%)
Lib Dem: 1010 (2.2%)
SNP: 23548 (50.9%)
Others: 278 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 5684 (12.3%)

Category: Semi-marginal SNP seat


Main population centres:



Current MP
MHAIRI BLACK (SNP) Born Paisley. Educated at Glasgow University. First elected as MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire South in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 3979 (10%)
Lab: 23842 (60%)
LDem: 3812 (10%)
SNP: 7228 (18%)
Oth: 1137 (3%)
MAJ: 16614 (42%)
Con: 3188 (8%)
Lab: 19904 (53%)
LDem: 6672 (18%)
SNP: 6653 (18%)
Oth: 1443 (4%)
MAJ: 13232 (35%)
Con: 2301 (8%)
Lab: 17830 (58%)
LDem: 3178 (10%)
SNP: 5920 (19%)
Oth: 1307 (4%)
MAJ: 11910 (39%)
Con: 3237 (9%)
Lab: 21482 (58%)
LDem: 3500 (9%)
SNP: 8732 (23%)
Oth: 400 (1%)
MAJ: 12750 (34%)

2015 Candidates
FRASER GALLOWAY (Conservative) Educated at Stewarts Melville College and Glasgow University. Trainee solicitor.
DOUGLAS ALEXANDER (Labour) Born 1967, Glasgow, son of a Church of Scotland minister. Educated at Park Mains High School and Edinburgh University. Solicitor. Contested Perth and Kinross 1995 by-election, Perth 1997. MP for Paisley South 1997 by-election to 2015. Minister of State at the DTI 2001-2002 and the Cabinet office 2002-2003. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 2003-4, Minister of State for Trade 2004-2005, Minister of State for Europe 2005-2006, Secretary of State for Scotland and Transport 2006-2007. Secretary of State for International Development 2007-2010. Shadow secretary of state for work and pensions 2010-2011, Shadow Foreign Secretary 2011-2015.
EILEEN MCCARTIN (Liberal Democrat)
MHAIRI BLACK (SNP) Born Paisley. Educated at Glasgow University. Student.
SANDRA WEBSTER (Scottish Socialist Party (SSP))
Comments - 245 Responses on “Paisley & Renfrewshire South”
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  1. I can’t believe there are no comments on this seat considering that UNITE allegedly plotted to deselect Douglas Alexander.

    2015 most likely IMO

    Lab 57
    SNP 25
    Con 8
    LD 6
    others 4

  2. Its profile is thin, to say the least as well…. the Land that Time Forgot

  3. A propos of nothing, has a national election campaign manager for either of the major parties ever lost his own constituency election?

  4. Chris Patten as Tory Party Chairman, was in charge of the ’92 election campaign.
    He lost Bath, but at least had the comfort of having pulled a surprise victory out of the bag.
    His majority was only 2.7% in 1987. It’s not like losing a 41.5% majority!
    However, the SNP is only 8% ahead in the Ashcroft poll. Labour could hold on here. I’d expect some swingback in the last week/in the polling booth as people decide it’s safer to vote Labour to try and keep the Conservatives out.

  5. Would this count as a Portillo moment or has Ashcroft disqualified it by polling the seat?

  6. No way, the exit of THIS Alexander cannot be called a PoMo.

  7. Douglas Alexander isn’t widely hated and he isn’t part of the government.

  8. Video featuring 19 year-old Mhairi Black. She’s taking on Douglas Alexander in Paisley & Renfrewshire South for the SNP. Today’s poll put her 8 points ahead:

  9. 8% SNP lead is very serious, but it is just about recoverable. It’s possible Douglas Alexander may just scrape home in the end (though not Danny).

  10. I don’t believe these SNP figures will materialise – although I do think they may get close to 30% in Scotland.

    I wonder whether any seats will change hands much atall apart from some LD ones.

    By the way I do not post as Teddy – just seen the Mid Dorset/N Poole thread.

  11. Do you post as Miriam though?

  12. Joe James B

    15% would be a hell of a fall for a party in just three months. I would suggest that with the evidence we have, a 30% figure for the SNP is wholly unlikely, particularly considering that SNP voters are the least likely to change VI at this point.

    A 37-38% figure is believable, although somewhere around 41% is more probable.

  13. I think that’s a very fair analysis & forecast.

  14. I just don’t believe it. Not quite sure why.
    I know the SNP have tried to change tac that people still need them to force the other parties to deliver on what is devo max, or they really do believe they were robbed despite a 10point defeat in the referendum. (although votes for the SNP are not entirely the same thing).

    These things do indeed fade away to very little although this is new territory. Anyway, we’ll see.

  15. At first sight the sum of Ashcroft put Labour only just over 10% behind….which is a major improvement on most of the recent then I realised that this was not Scotland wide figure but a collection of what (other than Glasgow North, Inverness and Gordon) were ultra safe Labour seats.

  16. If you think the polls are badly wrong, you kind of have to come up with a reasonable answer to why a significant number of Yes voters would vote Labour this year. The SNP can get 45% just by getting the people who voted for independence to vote for them again in May.

  17. It’s not all uniform….Glasgow North a Lab/LD marginal has become a SNP/Lab marginal and not a washout as the uniform swing suggests but on the other hand the SNP are ahead in 3 of the 4 ultra safe Labour seats that the uniform swing would still intimate a Labour hold.

  18. The Daily Record has run a strong personal attack on the young SNP activist here.

    Perhaps Ashcrofts poll for this seat came to Douglas Alexander ‘s attention?

  19. Meant Young SNP candidate and former YES activist.

  20. I think the Labour Party and the Daily Record will be disappointed that more of the so-called “mavericks” of the Yes campaign were not selected, and that more established SNP figures were chosen instead.

    For example, I’m sure it would have been easy to dig something up on the likes of Kate Higgins, Michael Stewart and, of course, Craig Murray.

    However, I do expect Glasgow East candidate Natalie McGarry to be next in the firing line for a Daily Record “expose”.

  21. It could be the nearest thing to a Portillo Moment if Douglas Alexander loses to a 19 year-old.

  22. Glasgow SW and Coatbridge even registered by Ashcroft as SNP Gains despite weathering the uniform swings of all previous polls.

    Glasgow SW is largely what was once Jim Sillars old Govan constituency.

  23. Those seats are recoverable. I tend to think, however, that at least 12 Labour seats (including Falkirk) are now irretrievably lost to the SNP this year even if there is a significant improvement for the former party at the expense of the latter between now & May, including some in Glasgow.

  24. I’d have thought 8-10 points would be a decent cut-off in terms of what should be abandoned – obviously, some of that can be changed if there’s a significant shift in the Scotland-wide polling, and you can pick and choose among the borderline cases. I wouldn’t give up on a seat where I was facing a 19 year old who’s just been blasted by the Daily Record, as an example. That said, not that a lot of what was in the ‘expose’ would be too disturbing for SNP/Yes voters. On the other hand, I don’t think the Scottish electorate is very swingy at this stage. Most people know where they stand following the referendum, and are unlikely to shift that over the next few months.

    In general, I think the SNP have done relatively well with the candidate selection, and have managed to avoid the obvious traps like Craig Murray. There will be some who have said some things during the referendum that certain papers will decide are newsworthy just now, but then expecting neutral coverage from the Record and others would be naive at best.

  25. The SNP were 33/1 to win this seat before the referendum, They are now odds-on.

  26. I don’t care what party they are, a 20 year old is surely quite unsuited to parliament. By all means run in a hopeless seat and get some campaigning experience, but it can’t be healthy for them or their constituents to have someone as your MP who’s never even voted for an MP.

  27. Barnaby

    Which are the 12 or so seats you feel are unrecoverable?

    I myself am thinking (in order of most lost to Labour):
    Dundee West
    Ochil & South Perthshire
    Glasgow North
    Linlithgow & East Falkirk
    West Dunbartonshire
    KIlmarnock & Loudoun
    Aberdeen North
    East Kilbride
    Glasgow South

    The only reason I’ve left out Ayrshire North & Arran, is because Katy Clark seems to be the only MP that garners any form of respect from the Yes side, although I would expect her to go. Her post-parliamentary career could be interesting, and may not necessarily continue in the Labour Party (she would be an asset to Holyrood whoever she represents).

  28. “I don’t care what party they are, a 20 year old is surely quite unsuited to parliament. By all means run in a hopeless seat and get some campaigning experience, but it can’t be healthy for them or their constituents to have someone as your MP who’s never even voted for an MP.”

    Does the referendum campaign not count as campaigning experience, where she was indeed more visible than the local MP? Anyway, when she put her name forward for this seat a couple a months ago, how many people would have categorised Paisley South as anything other than a “hopeless seat”? In the present climate, the only place she could have possibly stood to gain “campaigning experience”, is Orkney & Shetland, which would be a little bit daft for someone from Paisley.

    She was selected by the members of her local party, which is sizable, and she certainly was not uncontested. If 20 year-old women are deemed unsuitable to run for parliament, perhaps legal restrictions should be enacted to make sure only proper-speaking middle-aged men are allowed to be elected.

  29. [email protected]

    I think that the huge SNP lead has been sustained and consistent for too long now (nearly 4 months) to be reversed. Its like the tide moving against John Major in 1997.

    The SNP have had ‘a flash in the pan’ poll ratings in the past following the 1988 Glasgow Govan By Election and the run up to the initial Holyrood elections that lasted a month and died out but this is very different. This time the SNP lead has been sustained for months and by every major polling organisation.

    I agree that Labour are totally doomed in 10 of these 12 seats but think that the SNP are certain to win a few others even if Labour can partially reverse the trend.

  30. @Dalek

    That is by no means my definitive list of SNP gains (I expect seats as long odds as Glenrothes and Edinburgh North to go, too), but in my view these are the 12 most difficult seats for Labour to hold this year, and the most likely to become strong SNP holds in the future.

    As a matter of interest, which are the two of these seats you think Labour have any chance of recovering, and which seats would you replace them with?

  31. [email protected]

    I would have included Edinburgh East and Ayrshire North & Arran but omitted Linlithgow & East Falkirk and Livingston.

  32. I’m quite confident that Livingston will be a big SNP gain in May. In 2011, the SNP won the equivalent seat with 54% of the vote, and they’re starting from a 26% 2010 vote in the Westminster seat.

    At the moment, West Lothian is more Central Scotland than Lothian politically.

    However, I understand your reluctance regarding Linlithgow & East Falkirk, especially as I have no idea how Grangemouth will treat this election.

    You’re probably right with your two suggestions. The interesting variable in Edinburgh East will be the Green vote, and how this affects the SNP vote share, considering that its their sole Scottish target seat (in Glasgow North, which is not an official target seat, the Greens are polling at 11%).

  33. All she said was that she felt like nutting the Labour councillors at the Paisley referendum count…I listened to the video and she was clearly making her comments in jest. When John O’Farrell talked in his autobiography about wanting to punch the Young Conservatives in their faces at the Battersea count in 1987 after Labour lost the seat would anybody think he was serious?

    This seems like desperate stuff from the Daily Record.

  34. Maybe Douglas Alexander is a very good actor but he seems remarkably unworried in his most recent media appearances over the last few days, still finding time, as Shadow Foreign Secretary, to have a dig at Cameron today after he was criticised as an irrelevance on the World stage.

  35. There is something similar happening here as what happened in 2011 in Scotland. Most of the top brass in the Labour Party won’t believe it’s going to happen until it’s happened.

    I remember the scenes in the student with Margaret Curran and others when Labour lost most of their seats in Central Scotland and a few such as Cathcart, Shettleston and Anniesland in Glasgow. There had been signs of a collapse there for some time, and polling had indicated they were vulnerable, but the Labour representatives in the studio were left in shock, unlike their Lib Dem colleagues I must say, despite the enormity of their collapse.

    I would suspect that any interviews with Anas Sarwar and Mags Curran may not be conducted with the same calm as Dougie Alexander during the period leading up to the election.

  36. “There is something similar happening here as what happened in 2011 in Scotland. Most of the top brass in the Labour Party won’t believe it’s going to happen until it’s happened.”

    That sounds about right. Remember how the fightback to the ConDems was going to start in Scotland. One optimistic Labour poster on here was predicting a clean sweep for his party in Edinburgh.

    I had for a long time suspected that Labour were going to have a bad time in Scotland in 2015, simply because their performance in 2010 was so strong (all things being relative). I also don’t think it’s unfair to say that Milliband always seemed less likely to resonate with Scots than Gordon Brown.
    The notion that the SNP would suffer electorally as a result of the No vote always appeared a bit silly to me, simply because Salmond is such an effective politician that he wouldn’t let a little thing like that upset the bandwagon.

    The SNP surge I’ve contended was real since it was first mooted, however the leads seemed somewhat suspect. The Ashcroft polls now seem to give credibility to the mammoth leads, which in a FPTP system really will mean a political earthquake. Bar the SNP’s 6 up there, no seat really seems all that safe anymore.

  37. A fair comment.

    It remains to be seen whether the shock will galvanise Labour to pour resources into Scottish seats, perhaps at the expense of Tory and Lib Dem marginals in England.

    And which seats will they choose to focus on? Will they write off the SNP’s easier gains like Clackmannan, Falkirk and Dundee to focus on their heartland seats in Glasgow, Paisley etc?

  38. The main reason I had considered the SNP to perhaps be overstating the lead was the result of last year’s European election.

    Clearly, the pollsters were quite accurate with the referendum result, with most of their final polls somewhere around the 46:54 mark, well within margin of error.

    However, in last year’s Euro elections, the SNP were supposedly polling in the mid-to-late thirties, expected to take the third seat and some talk even of getting the fourth. They ended up on 29%, some 8% lower than most of the polls were showing. Of course, this may have been down to the eventual lower turnout, since the Conservatives were a good 4/5% higher than polls had shown (Labour were also 3/4% down on what polls were showing).

    Given that both the national polls and the West-Central Scotland polls are placing the SNP at the 45-50% mark, then if both sets polls are correct, either: a) many of the seats in which the SNP are expected to poll somewhere in the low 30s (for example, Edinburgh, Borders) will actually be touching 40%, or; b) the SNP will have enormous leads in their North Eastern safe seats and some of their other expected gains (e.g. Ochil, Falkirk) on a scale similar to the Dundee poll.

    If the polls are right, then I imagine scenario b) is more likely.

  39. H. Hemmelig

    What do you mean by pouring resources? It might be suggested that the pouring of human resources from some of Labour’s English strongholds might not have the desired effect in West-Central Scotland.

  40. Money

  41. Support from the unions also (quite a lot of which can probably be found in Scotland itself, if need be)

  42. I think the poll is quite logistically useful for Labour because it tells them where the massive swing might be somewhat contained for the purposes of saving some seats.

  43. “Bar the SNP’s 6 up there, no seat really seems all that safe anymore.”

    I would include Orkney & Shetland and perhaps Ross, Skye & Lochaber, Glasgow North East and East Renfrewshire…..making the worst case scenario for the Unionist parties to be SNP 55, Lab 2 and LD 2.

  44. I wouldn’t class Ross Skye & Lochaber as safe now, though I certainly did until the referendum.

  45. “I would include Orkney & Shetland and perhaps Ross, Skye & Lochaber, Glasgow North East and East Renfrewshire”

    I was speaking more in hyperbolic terms Peter, rather than literal.
    In my mind RS&L should be a fairly safe LD bet but I might be a touch clouded here; I first started following politics seriously in the early noughties and the 1st GE I remember seriously enjoying was 2005. Back then Charlie Kennedy was the really nice scottish guy with a cute little baby that everyone liked because he hated the nasty war and tuition fees etc. Now that I think of it I haven’t actually noticed him since that day a few years ago when he was supposed to be joining Labour and didn’t it, and the last time before that was when he lit up on a train having just voted for the smoking ban.

    Up in the Highlands we’re oft told personalities are big so I’m giving CK the benefit of the doubt and predicting he’ll hold on. (In Thurso’s case however I’m not feeling the certainty that others have that he’ll be able to pull through).

  46. Interesting that Barnaby says he thinks 12 Labour seats are probably already lost to the SNP. That’s about the same number of seats Labour will gain from the LDs throughout the UK. So the total number of Labour gains overall will be roughly the number of seats they take from the Tories. I can’t see more than 40 of those myself which means Labour below 300.


    The Scottish Labour website has an campaigning event locator for Labour supporters to join events.

    There are a huge number being organised in this constituency as the above link shows. I assume Scottish Labour seem to be putting much more effort into this seat than others because they are desperate to avoid Portillo Monment!

  48. Well if you just look at the Ashcroft poll you’ll just how unlikely a Labour win of that size now is.

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