Holyrood 2016: Six key constituency battle grounds

THE fifth elections to the Scottish Parliament take place on Thursday, May 5 and will see the SNP attempt to win an historic third term in power.

THE fifth elections to the Scottish Parliament take place on Thursday, May 5 and will see the SNP attempt to win an historic third term in power.

The 2011 vote saw the Nationalists win a record 69 seats - a feat current opinion polls suggest the party could surpass.

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Due to the five-party system in Scotland, there are number of constituencies that could change hands with a tiny swing against the incumbent.

Five seats have majorities of less than 500 - and it is these communities that can expect to see an extra influx of campaigners from April onwards.

GLASGOW ANNIESLAND (Incumbent: Bill Kidd, SNP. Majority: seven)

If Labour is to win back any of the constituencies it lost to the SNP in 2011 then Anniesland, on paper at least, looks the most likely. Bill Kidd took the seat from Bill Butler by seven votes - the smallest majority in the country. Kezia Dugdale’s party requires a swing of just 0.0146 per cent for victory. But local SNP campaigners are confident Kidd, who will again face Butler in the poll, can increase his winning margin this time around.

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EAST LOTHIAN (Incumbent: Iain Gray, Labour. Majority: 151)

The SNP’s number one target is that of former Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray. One of the most memorable scenes of the 2011 election was the dramatic recount which saw Gray retain his seat by 151 votes, making him one of the few sitting MSPs to resist the Nationalists’ electoral surge. Former landlord DJ Johnston-Smith will be hoping to win the constituency for Nicola Sturgeon’s party in May.

KIRKCALDY (Incumbent: David Torrance, SNP. Majority: 182)

The former stronghold of Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown is now represented at both Holyrood and Westminster by the SNP. David Torrance won the seat in 2011 by gaining 182 more votes than the then incumbent, Marilyn Livingstone. Labour require a swing of 0.3273 per cent to win back the Lang Toun in May.

EDINBURGH CENTRAL (Incumbent: Marco Biagi, SNP. Majority: 237)

The SNP’s landslide victory in 2011 was based on winning seats it had traditionally struggled in like Edinburgh Central. Marco Biagi snatched the constituency from former Labour minister Sarah Boyack, despite winning the second lowest vote share of any SNP candidate. The 33-year-old announced in 2015 he would not seek re-election in order to pursue an academic career. Former Scottish Parliament official Alison Dickie is now charged with retaining the seat for the Nationalists. Opposing her will be Boyack, who requires a swing of 0.41 per cent to win. However, the seat could well prove to be a three-way fight. Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson - currently a Glasgow list MSP - will stand in the capital and is confident she can win.

PAISLEY (Incumbent: George Adam, SNP. Majority: 248)

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If Labour is to prevent Nicola Sturgeon from winning a majority it must win constituencies once considered its heartlands. But Paisley, formerly a bedrock for the party, is now synonymous with Mhairi Black and her sensational election last year as the UK’s youngest MP. The town’s Holyrood representative, George Adam, lacks the high profile of his Westminster colleague, but can look forward to her campaigning on his behalf. List MSP Neil Bibby is the man tasked with winning back the seat for Labour.

GREENOCK AND INVERCLYDE (Incumbent: Duncan McNeil, Labour. Majority: 511)

One of the few positives Labour enjoyed in 2011’s election was veteran MSP Duncan McNeil retaining his Inverclyde seat in the face of a strong campaign from Stuart McMillan of the SNP. Greenock is likely to be the scene of another fierce round of campaigning this May when McMillan, a serving list MSP, looks to win the constituency at the third time of asking - and he requires a swing of just 0.91 per cent to do so. With McNeil stepping down, Labour have charged union official Siobhan McCready with ensuring the seat stays red.

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