22 August 2010

Selection Box: Highlands & Islands

In the Highlands and Islands, there are a wave of retirements on the way, with Jim Mather, John Farquhar Munro and Jamie Stone all leaving in 2011. In Argyll & Bute, Education Secretary and current MSP for the South of Scotland Mike Russell will replace Jim Mather as the SNP candidate, with Alison Hay looking to win the seat back for the LibDems and current Regional MSP Jamie McGrigor making the pitch for the Tories. Now, at this point, I'd usually mention the QIB here, but the fact that Mike Russell, who lives in this constituency, is a sitting MSP and a Cabinet Secretary to boot, probably neutralises it, along with the fact that for Holyrood, this seat is an SNP/LibDem marginal and the Tories are some distance off the pace. However, QIB would certainly apply in Caithness, Sutherland & Ross (where Regional MSP Rob Gibson will be having a go), and Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch (where LibDem Alan MacRae will be hoping to defend the seat against SNP MSP Dave Thompson). And the average bonus of a quasi-incumbent equates to a 6% swing, which would put both seats in the SNP column.

Meanwhile, it's worth flagging up that Mary Scanlon has been selected in Inverness & Nairn. If I were feeling uncharitable, I would mention that she attempted to present herself as "A New Bonnie Fechter for Moray" following the death of Margaret Ewing, but that wouldn't be like me at all, would it? In fact, she was never a bonnie fechter for Moray: she'd stood in Inverness East, Nairn & Lochaber in 1999 and 2003, and doubtless only stood in the Moray By-Election as she'd already been selected for the seat for the 2007 Election. I mention this simply to point out to those who remember that campaign that she has not been ejected from her base, she is actually returning to it.


Bill said...

Of course Mary Scanlon has anyway been the other Conservative list MSP for the Highlands and Islands since 1999, except for the brief period when she stood down to stand in the FPTP contest in Moray. Her chances of winning there were small and her chances of winning the FPTP seat are non-existent in the Highlands, unless there is a political cataclysm here. If Danny Alexander were to be ousted (because of LibDem unpopularity because of its participation in the Coalition) then it's more likely the SNP or Labour would win, not the Conservatives. However, I'd say Alexander is pretty popular on the whole.

Her candidacy in the FPTP contest is largely meaningless I think, except it ticks another box as the Party always wishes to field a candidate in every seat.

Normally I'd wish the Conservative candidate to win, but not in her case I'm afraid. Still, it's never going to happen, so I needn't trouble myself about it.

David McEwan Hill said...

The way things are going it will be interesting to see how the LibDem vote, which has traditionally in the Highlands been an anti Tory vote, will redistribute between SNP and Labour.
With the popular JFM standing down I can see that seat falling to the SNP but the SNP has problems with a new candidate, Mike Russell, taking over from the highly respected Jim Mather in Argyll and facing a very small majority and a huge Ferry problem. But if anybody can get to grips with ths problem it is probably Russell.
Can't see Alison Hay winning it and the Tories must feel they have a chance on a split and Labour are talking up their chances here as well. I can only see the Labour vote in Scotland retreating over the next few months as some English toff becomes leader so it is very interesting election coming up,particularly in Argyll.
The lists will be interesting also with the pugnacious Mike Mackenzie, also from Argyll, being tipped to do well