Scotland’s top 10 constituencies to watch

WITH the polls due to open around 36 hours from now, we take a look at the Scottish constituencies that could provide the most interesting results.

Election teams are beginning to set up ballot boxes ahead of Thursday's vote. Picture: PA
Election teams are beginning to set up ballot boxes ahead of Thursday's vote. Picture: PA

Our Westminster Correspondent David Maddox has picked out ten seats worth keeping an eye on this Thursday.

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Liberal Democrats)

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FORMER Scottish Secretary Michael’s Moore’s seat has long been fought over with the Tories but this year it is a genuine three-horse race with the SNP coming into play despite a massive rejection of independence in the Borders.

Any of the three parties could emerge as the winner although Lord Ashcroft’s poll has suggested Conservative candidate John Lamont could be victorious at the second time of asking.

In terms of a context it is similar to West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine where a Tory rise in support and the SNP surge are threatening to squeeze Liberal Democrat MP Sir Robert Smith.

Who’s standing? Kenryck Lloyd Jones (Labour); Calum Kerr (SNP); John Lamont (Conservative); Michael Moore (Liberal Democrats); Peter Neilson (Ukip); Jesse Rae (Independent); Pauline Stewart (Green)

East Renfrewshire (Labour)

This is a top target for the SNP because victory will mean that they take the scalp of the Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy and potentially bring a halt to any revival strategy in the longer term for the party.

The polls have had this one close, but Labour are quietly confident of victory despite some surveys suggesting the Nationalists will win.

Labour recently criticised SNP candidate Kirsten Oswald for sending letters to Tory voters asking them to back the Nationalists.

Who’s standing? Graeme Cowie (Liberal Democrats); Robert Malyn (Ukip); David Montgomery (Conservative); Jim Murphy (Labour); Kirsten Oswald (SNP)

Edinburgh South (Labour)

This has been a bitter and hard fought election in what was already a tight marginal for Labour’s Ian Murray. In 2010 he won against expectations when Nigel Griffiths was forced to quit but then he was seeing off a Lib Dem challenge and to a lesser extent a Tory one.

The SNP surge has seen their candidate Neil Hay come from a party share of the vote of 7.7 per cent in 2010 to being the frontrunner.

However, the added dimension to this constituency was the revelation that Hay had sent offensive tweets in the past under a pseudonym on Twitter.

Who’s standing? Miles Briggs (Conservative); Colin Fox (SSP); Neil Hay (SNP); Paul Marshall (Ukip); Phyl Meyer (Green); Ian Murray (Labour); Pramod Subbaraman (Liberal Democrats)

Glasgow East (Labour)

Glasgow could go from all red Labour to all yellow and black SNP and while Glasgow East is not the easiest to save for Labour it is the one which has had more resources thrown at it because the current MP is shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran.

This was also the scene of a famous SNP by-election victory in 2008 although Labour won it back convincingly in 2010.

Interestingly, the only Glasgow seat on the saveable list of 12 is Glasgow North East next door, but clearly Ms Curran doesn’t intend to go down without a fight.

Who’s standing? Margaret Curran (Labour); Kim Long (Green); Natalie McGarry (SNP); Gary McLelland (Liberal Democrats); Liam Mclaughlan (SSP); Andy Morrison (Conservative); Arthur Thackeray (Ukip)

Gordon (Liberal Democrats)

This has become one of the most fascinating contests in the entire election because the SNP candidate is former First Minister Alex Salmond, as close to a celebrity politician that exists in the UK.

But Mr Salmond’s fame or infamy in some quarters has counted against him where a Better Together coalition has coalesced around the Liberal Democrat candidate Christine Jardine, who replaced the retiring MP Sir Malcolm Bruce.

Mr Salmond’s dig at Ms Jardine, suggesting she did not live in Gordon hints that he may be worried, but despite labelling herself as the unionist ‘Stop Salmond’ candidate, Ms Jardine last month declared that she ‘wasn’t a unionist’ but rather a ‘federalist’.

The Liberal Democrats claim they are on the verge of victory. It seems unlikely but elections can throw up strange results.

Who’s standing? Colin Clark (Conservative); Braden Davy (Labour); Christine Jardine (Liberal Democrats); Alex Salmond (SNP); Emily Santos (Ukip)

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey (Liberal Democrats)

When Danny Alexander led the Liberal Democrat negotiating team in 2010 which set up the coalition with the Tories he probably did not think he was ending his chances of winning back his seat.

He insists he will win his Highland seat despite the SNP surge and a series of polls suggesting he will lose.

As they say, only one poll counts and Mr Alexander is a tough campaigner. He has also used his ministerial officer as Chief Treasury Secretary shamelessly to help out his constituents.

There was the tax break for ski lifts, the saving of the overnight sleeper train, the fuel duty cuts, the decision to give Visit Britain millions of pounds if they put the Loch Ness monster at the heart of a campaign and much more.

Mr Alexander will be hoping that his constituents are grateful.

Who’s standing? Danny Alexander (Liberal Democrats); Donald MacLeod Boyd (Christian Party); Les Durance (Ukip); Drew Hendry (SNP); Edward Mountain (Conservative); Isla O’Reilly (Green); Mike Robb (Labour)

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Labour)

This is an iconic seat for the SNP to win because it was up until this election held by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown who is stepping down.

Polls have suggested that the Nationalists are on course for victory but Labour have this seat on their list of saveable ones.

Who’s standing? Dave Dempsey (Conservative); Callum Leslie (Liberal Democrats); Roger Mullin (SNP); Jack Neill (Ukip); Kenny Selbie (Labour)

Ochil and South Perthshire (Labour)

In theory this should be an easy hit for the SNP given their huge lead in the polls and the fact it has always been a marginal.

However, despite voting for SNP councillors the constituency, which is mostly made up of Clackmannanshire, voted against independence defying expectations.

Added to that Labour MP Gordon Banks has been fighting this seat as a marginal and confounding predictions of his demise since 2005.

It means that while some seats which are now highly vulnerable do not have a Labour machine because of years of complacency, this cannot be said for Ochil and South Perthshire which could spring a surprise win for Labour.

Who’s standing? Gordon Banks (Labour); Luke Graham (Conservative); Martin Gray (Ukip); Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh (SNP); Iliyan Stefanov (Liberal Democrats)

Orkney and Shetland (Liberal Democrats)

Orkney and Shetland has been a solid Liberal Democrat and before that, Liberal, seat since 1837 and was the strongest No vote in last year’s referendum.

If the SNP is to win all 59 seats this is the one to look out for because it will be 59th on their list of targets.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael currently represents the seat and is a target but if he loses then such will be the political earthquake it will be hard to imagine any Liberal Democrats returning to Westminster at all.

It is more likely that the islands MP could find himself a pro-UK island in a sea of SNP MPs from Scotland.

Who’s standing? Donald Cameron (Conservative); Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrats); Gerry McGarvey (Labour); Danus Skene (SNP); Robert Smith (Ukip)

Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Labour)

In 1992 Chris Patten, the then Tory chairman, found out it was very hard to be a national strategist and save his seat.

Fast forward 23 years and Douglas Alexander, Labour’s election strategy chief, has discovered the same problem although he probably never expected to be struggling to save his own seat.

Mr Alexander is in trouble but he is up against another interesting SNP candidate, Mhairi Black, who at 20 would become the “baby of the House” as the youngest MP is called.

If Ms Black was elected, she would end 70 years of Labour representation in Paisley.

Who’s standing? Douglas Alexander (Labour); Mhairi Black (SNP); Fraser Galloway (Conservative); Eileen McCartin (Liberal Democrats); Sandra Webster (SSP)