26 May 2009

The Boundaries are A-Changin: South Scotland

South Scotland (it loses the 'of') may have seen more radical changes had Commissioners persisted with a Cumnock & Clydesdale seat which looked more like a Rorschach test than a Parliamentary Constituency. But while the constituencies themselves don't go through many convulsions, the region does: it loses East Lothian to Lothian (well, it was hardly going to move into Highlands & Islands, was it?), it loses Cunninghame South to West Central Scotland and gains Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley from Central Scotland. More eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that this leaves South one constituency short. They'd be right: it will now apparently contain only eight, making it the 'baby' region instead of the now even larger Highlands & Islands.

Ayr stays pretty much comfortably Tory, while Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley stays pretty solid Labour. Clydesdale stays Labour, but with a majority of around 1,300 - less than half what it was, potentially giving Aileen Campbell a very nice target, which will definitely come in handy.

As you can see, Dumfriesshire gains the letters s, h, i, r and e but loses a good part of the town of Dumfries, to Elaine Murray's chagrin. She won't be too chuffed about her majority plummeting from 2,800 to just 200 either. If there's just the slightest hint of a Cameron honeymoon in Scotland in 2011, she's out.

Ettrick, Roxburgh & Berwickshire (formerly Roxburgh & Berwickshire) stays Tory, as does Galloway & West Dumfries. Though the good folk of Upper Nithsdale might be hacked off that they no longer get a mention.

The incoming Constituency, Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley, stays SNP.

The last seat is the most significant: LibDem-held Tweeddale, Ettrick & Lauderdale becomes notionally-SNP Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale. Could Christine Grahame have finally scored her victory? I suspect Jeremy Purvis will not be thrilled by that prospect.

Then comes the List: the arrival of Kilmarnock and gaining of MSTL causes something of a headache for the SNP: it has a notional three List seats, giving the party a total of five, but with six incumbent MSPs operating in the new region. Even if we assume that Willie Coffey maintains his 'win or bust' approach in Kilmarnock, the likelihood is that unless Alasdair Morgan decides that 66 is a good age at which to retire, the rankings could well be bad news for one of the current five Regional MSPs. And remember, this region contains two Government Ministers, one Deputy Presiding Officer, one grande dame of the SNP and one rising star. This selection contest has echoes of the 'Group of Death' that appears in every Champions' League or World Cup.

For Labour, things are clearer: the departure of two Labour seats to other regions to be replaced with an SNP constituency offers them two List seats (so two vacancies in the area) for the first time. So Jeff's scenario of MPs defeated at the next General Election heading to a Holyrood List near you might emerge, if Russell Brown were to lose his Dumfries & Galloway seat to Peter Duncan, with one other.

The Tories see no change, but the LibDems face a problem: on the previous setup, the loss of Tweeddale etc. would give them an extra List seat as compensation (as happened in Roxburgh & Berwickshire). With one seat fewer available for the parties to play with, that is no longer the case: if they lose Tweeddale, they don't have enough notional votes to get it back.

1 comment:

AT said...

Re Galloway & West Dumfriesshire:
"Though the good folk of Upper Nithsdale might be hacked off that they no longer get a mention."

That's because Upper Nithsdale has been moved into the new Dumfriesshire seat.