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Changes on the way

Brian Taylor | 14:59 UK time, Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Had enough of the UK election aftermath? Ready for a bit of Holyrood pre-election fun?

This afternoon we got the final recommendations on the new Scottish Parliamentary boundaries which will now go to the Scottish Secretary (Holyrood elections being, still, in Westminster hands.)

The statement is full of valuable information about the average size of constituencies (more lie close to the mean); about co-terminosity with local authorities (enhanced, apparently); and the fact that the recommended names for Holyrood seats mostly differ from Westminster versions.

Are these facts entrancing our political parties? Or are they doing rough sums as to the likely impact on their electoral prospects?

Hands up those who answered "the latter".

Now, health warnings. There is no guarantee that voters in new seats will replicate their past habits: they may be influenced by the boundary changes.

Plus incumbency may counter negative factors from any boundary switch.

Holyrood gossip

Plus the corrective list mechanism may do exactly that: rebalance for a party which has lost a constituency on a boundary change but retains a substantial vote region-wide. (Or, of course, it may not.)

But, with those points in mind, herewith the Holyrood gossip around the parties thus far.

Labour: Starts one seat down in that a constituency vanishes from depopulated Glasgow (hence Margaret Curran's departure for Westminster.)

Looks to be in bother in the new Eastwood - which, despite furious protests, is now sans Barrhead (Labour's voter base.)

Could be facing tougher challenges in other seats - such as the redrawn Edinburgh Central; the new Dumfriesshire; and maybe Aberdeen Central.

Has "high hopes" of taking Glasgow Southside (presently Govan, current incumbent Nicola Sturgeon.)
Plans big list campaign to help counter any problems with individual seats.

SNP: Believes it could make perhaps two net gains. Thinks the redrawn Edinburgh East still good. Thinks the new hybrid of Midlothian North and Musselburgh could be winnable.

Admits Southside "more challenging" but believes Ms Sturgeon will hold on.
Now to be two seats in Angus: hopeful of both (but see below.)

Conservative: Happy at splits in number of urban seats. Thinks Eastwood on the cards for a win. Looking optimistically at new Dumfriesshire.

New Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire tougher, but winnable/holdable. Ditto Edinburgh Pentlands. Ayr strengthened for Tories.

Disagrees with SNP re Angus. Thinks Nationalists will be entrenched in Angus South but that Angus North and Mearns could turn blue. Thinks Perthshire South and Kinross-shire a possible.

Liberal Democrat: Not at all happy with the change in the Borders which turns Jeremy Purvis' seat into Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale.
Turning an eye upon the new Edinburgh Central and, possibly, Argyll and Bute.

Remember those caveats. Plus, as ever, the voters will decide.


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