Hey everyone With voting taking place in the most evenly contested UK general election of my lifetime I think it is time to make my predictions as to where what the result may be and what impact they may have on the overall political geography of Scotland and how the outcome may effects the make up the next parliament and who governs the UK for the next five years.
My only concrete prediction is that though I want the SNP to win all 59 seats I don’t think that is going to happen.Scots are at least in my opinion far too socially and culturally conservative to allow such a radical change all at once. So I see the SNP emerging at the largest party after the votes are counted though I also think that Conservatives could have their best night in Scotland since the Pre-Blair era.
That said I think the SNP are in for a very good night and we (Yes I am a party member) will be celebrating major gains particularly in the west of Scotland where I predict the end of the road for three of Labour’s big beasts. Firstly I think Mhairi Black will take out Douglas Alexander in Paisley and Renfrewshire South, I also believe Natalie McGarry will send Margaret Curran homewards to think again in Glasgow East and that leader of the SNP trade union group Chris Stephens will be celebrating a victory over Labour’s most hard-line unionist Ian Davidson who will be bayonetting nobody as this time he will be the wounded one.
I would also expect Stewart McDonald to win Glasgow South Patrick Grady to take Glasgow North and possibly Carol Monaghan to gain Glasgow North West. As for Alison Thewliss it is possible she can win Glasgow Central but beating Anas Sarwar will be a tougher ask than some think and Labour’s Willie Bain is widely expected to hold on in Glasgow North East against the SNP candidate Ann McLaughlin.
I also believe there will be SNP gains for Angela Crawley in Lanark and Hamilton East, Lisa Cameron in East Kilbride Lesmahagow And Strathaven Neil Gray in Airdrie And Shotts Phil Boswell in Coatbridge,and Stuart MacDonald in Cumbernauld Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East. However East Dunbartonshire may provide a grain of comfort for the Liberal Democrats with Jo Swinson holding on against the SNP’s John Nicholson though if it does happen it may need to go to a recount.
Contrary to popular belief I don’t expect the Lib Dems to be completely wiped out and if she does survive I can see Jo being joined by Alastair Carmichael who will retain Orkney and Shetland and Charles Kennedy who may survive in Ross Syke, And Lochaber. It has to be said that Christine Jardine was making optimistic noises about holding on to Gordon and defeating former First Minister Alex Salmond. Personally I think this could be slightly misplaced though I wouldn’t discount it completely. I will however ask the unthinkable question at least from a nationalist perspective, could a defeat for Mr Salmond strengthen the hand of both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP as a whole? You may be surprised that I believe the answer to that question may actually be yes as it would force the unionist parties to stop demonising the SNP as Salmond’s party or a one man band. That said however I do expect Alex Salmond to win Gordon but it may not quite be the shoo in some commentators think
Staying in the north east I would expect The SNP to gain Aberdeen North and possibly the city’s other seat making it a double for the party. though the traditionally more affluent South which I expect Labour to hold will be a far tougher task . I also expect Mr Salmond’s successor in Banff and Buchan Eilidh Whiteford to hold on to her seat with a degree of comfort and Angus Robertson to hold Moray despite spirited challenges from both the Conservative candidate and Labour’s Sean Morton. Angus though could be tricky and if the SNP are going to lose any seat they currently hold this could be the one. I say this as I suspect a section of both Labour and Liberal Democrats supporters will vote tactically for the Conservatives to defeat the sitting MP Mike Weir. This would be a terrible result for Angus but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
The neighbouring seat of Perth and North Perthshire also looks interesting but I think that sitting MP Pete Wishart will hold the seat for the SNP despite a fierce Conservative challenge. Just to the North East of this lies Scotland’s premier yes city Dundee and I believe that Dundee will not only retain that title. it will also be a Labour free zone with Chris Law joining Stewart Hosie by winning Dundee West and his party’s depute leader retaining the Eastern part of the city.
Just to the south east of Dundee lies the Kingdom of Fife and this could be an area which provides Labour with some comfort on what will probably be a very challenging night for them I can see them holding Dunfermline West and maybe Glenrothes though Gordon Brown’s former seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath looks like a potential gain for the SNP if Labour fail to get the vote out. As for the Lib Dem seat of North East Fife It looks like a potential gain for the SNP though I wouldn’t put my mortgage on it
Kincardine And West Aberdeenshire was once a Tory stronghold and in a very interesting three way fight I think it may go back to its former colours. Stirling was also a former Tory seat but I doubt it will be ready for another Michael Forsyth any time soon and I think the SNP will probably win in a tight two horse race with Labour. The fact that the former Labour MP for Stirling and independent MSP for Falkirk West Dennis Canavan is publicly endorsing both SNP candidates should see them pick up both Falkirk West and Falkirk East and Linlithgow I would also expect Hannah Bardell to gain Livingston, and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik to win in the neighbouring Ochil And South Perthshire making it a good night for the SNP in what we have come to know as Mid-Scotland
To west of Perthshire lies the sprawling hinterland of Argyle and Bute. I think this will be a very close call between Liberal Democrat Alan Reid and SNP candidate and local boy Brendan O’Hara who I think may just edge it given the current political winds for the Liberal Democrats are somewhat less than favourable.
Just down the coast in Greenock I would expect Labour’s Iain McKenzie to just about hold on to what should be one of Labour’s safest seats in Scotland. Personally I think that this is a bit like Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Jim Murphy’s seat of East Renfrewshire and Willie Bain’s Glasgow North East seat. If Labour lose this one they won’t be in trouble they’ll be in meltdown. One seat which I think is going to be hard to win will be Motherwell and Wishaw. I would put this one in the difficult bracket just as I would Midlothian where I would make Labour’s Kenny Young favourite to beat the SNP’s candidate Owen Thompson. I would also say that Gemma Doyle is marginal favourite to hold West Dunbartonshire though if Clydebank votes in the same way as it did in the referendum the seat could fall to SNP candidate Martin Monaghan.
Getting back to coastal seats North Ayrshire And Arran provides a really intriguing battle between Labour’s anti-trident left winger Katy Clark against the SNP’s Patricia Gibson. Clark is widely tipped to lose but not by me in fact I tip her to hold on for the very reason she can hold on to her party card and say I really don’t like Jim Murphy and that may be enough to get her re-elected. The same tactic could see Cathy Jamieson returned to parliament though with a much reduced majority. Ayrshire Central however will be a very different story and I believe that story will be of an SNP gain and though it will be close I also expect an SNP gain in Ayr, Cumnock, Carrick. I think. Russell Brown will lose his Dumfries and Galloway seat to the Tories who will also hold on to David Mundell in Clydesdale Ettrickdale and Tweedale despite a fantastic challenge from the SNP’s candidate Emma Harper. The Conservatives could also gain Michael Moore’s seat of Roxburgh Selkirk with and Berwickshire their popular local candidate John Pentland.
Moving on to Edinburgh and the Lothians I predict victory for the SNP candidates Michelle Thomson in Edinburgh West, Joanna Cherry Edinburgh South West and Tommy Sheppard in Edinburgh East, Neil Hay in Edinburgh Southern, though Deirdre Brock may not make it through in Edinburgh North And Leith please god I hope I’m wrong especially since I have heard really good things about her but believe me this will be a tough ask as the Chisholm factor (Malcolm Chisholm is the local MSP could work in favour of Labour.
In East Lothian Labour can rely on the votes of an older generation many of whom are still scarred by the impact of the job loses of the miners strike in the 1980’s. The same can also be said of Midlothian where as i have already said I tip Labour’s Kenny Young to hold off the SNP challenger Owen Thompson in another interesting fight. I only hope if he is elected he will be better mannered than his predecessor David Hamilton and show more a wee bit more respect to our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
When you talk of Nicola Sturgeon it seems inevitably these days at least in the eyes of the press and media that you must also talk of Jim Murphy so I will and my prediction will not make comfortable reading for the self appointed saviour of the union as I hold rather different views on to those expressed in the Daily Record and BBC. Though he should hold on to his seat in East Renfrewshire I think he may struggle more than he would like and if Kirsten Oswald and her campaign team have managed to convince enough Liberal Democrat and Tory voters that there will be no second referendum till at least 2020 then I think he could be gone. i for one will shed no tears if this does indeed prove to be the case.
The neighbouring seat of Renfrewshire North will not attract anywhere the same amount of publicity as Murphy on whom many eyes will be focused. Nor will it get the same media coverage as its other neigbouring seat where Douglas Alexander will be facing young Mhairi Black so the demise of Labour’s Jim Sheridan will i suspect go largely unnoticed as he loses his to the SNP candidate Gavin Newlands thus making Paisley a Labour free zone.
As we travel north I expect SNP gains from the Liberal Democrats in Caithness And Sutherland and IN Inverness, Nairn, Baddenoch, and Strathspey where i expect the leader of Highland Council Drew Henry to defeat the former chief secetary to the treasury Danny Alexander. This is a result which if i am correct will give me particular pleasure as Alexander was a thorn in the side of Scotland for the last five years. in his role as number two to George Osborne.
Crossing the water to the Western Isles i would expect the SNP’s Angus Brendan McNeill to comfortably see off any challenge from Labour but with my round up of the Scottish seats completed i can say that if i’m proved correct Scotland will have its most diversely coloured political map for a generation.Personally, however i would prefer a map with even more yellow than i’m predicting.
As for how this will impact on the UK i’m not sure though i would like to see strong showings from Plaid Cymru in Wales and the Green party all over Britain. I think Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett deserve a fitting reward for impressing the voters in the leadership debate. I also hope that tonight will be the end of the road for UKIP and a certain Nigel Farage. As to who will form the next government well that i don’t know but i will say that despite denials to contrary a good result result for the SNP would be a very favourable result for The Labour Party and Ed Milliband who i think would be installed as Prime Minister sometime early next week especially if results in England and Wales go his way. Indeed i would go as far as to that if Ed wants to be an anti austerity Prime Minister the defeat and indeed demise of certain Labour MP’s such the Ultra Blairites Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander may actually suit him more than he can possibly say in the heat of an election campaign. It does however remain to be seen what impact if any the comments of the outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron about what the London press are calling the Sturgeon effect will have and whether it will drive enough swithering voters to the Conservative fold in order to give his party a chance of winning a majority.
Personally i don’t believe it will and i speak from a position of strength on this matter. As a Geography and Politics honours graduate from the University Of Strathclyde i have always taken a keen interest on how electoral geography shapes our political landscape. I was also taught by some of the best lecturers in Scotland on this subject including Malcolm Dickson, Prosser Jack Brand, James Mitchell and the legend that is the voice of electoral behaviour Professor John Curtice though by the time i arrived the man was doing guest lectures rather than teaching students. i did however attend every guest lecture i was able to as i wanted to learn from the best
So there you have it my thoughts on what may or may not happen in the wee small hours of tomorrow morning after the voters are counted. There may be shock results and it may be time to think the unthinkable but somehow i think Scotland may emerge with a stronger voice than we’ve had for many years. Today, the people will speak by tomorrow evening we have a much clearer picture of what they have actually told us. It will then be up to politicians of all colours to listen to what we have said.
Love And Best Wishes