Ah good! A bunfight at last! Malc at Better Nation’s predictions for this region are eminently sensible: on a different day, with a different poll (I’m still using the ICM one, for consistency’s sake) we might even have agreed, on every seat. But no.
A word first, though, about this region – this is definitely going to be one to watch. The SNP made huge constituency gains in Mid Scotland and Fife in 2007, and even managed to scoop a list seat, and this was one of the regions that helped propel it over the winning line. These gains were made at Labour’s expense. Boundary changes in the intervening period have also helped to provide this area with some of the tightest marginals in the country. The shifts here – or lack of them – will have a huge bearing on which party forms the next government of Scotland.
As usual, let’s get the easy ones out of the way – I agree with Malc that Labour will hold Cowdenbeath and Kirkcaldy, the SNP will hold Mid Fife and Glenrothes, Perthshire North and Perthshire South and the Lib Dems will hold North East Fife.
According to the polls, Clackmannanshire and Dunblane should fall to Labour but Malc reckons that Keith Brown will hold it. Sadly, I cannot agree – much as I want to predict an SNP hold, for Keith Brown is an excellent MSP and has performed wonderfully as a Minister, I cannot. This seat will fall to Labour and we’ll have a new face at Holyrood. Worse, Stirling will go too. Again, Bruce Crawford has done a sterling job, particularly in his Ministerial role at keeping the SNP Government show on the road, but it won’t be enough. (Though of course, if the polls keep shifting, these predictions might turn out completely wrong….but based on what the ICM poll says, the boundary moves and previous voter history, these seats will turn red again.) Labour will also take Dunfermline back from the Lib Dems.
So, that’s 5 constituencies for Labour, 3 for the SNP and 1 for Lib Dems, reversing Malc’s total of 5 SNP, 3 Labour and 1 Lib Dem.
In 2007, 3 of the list seats went to the Conservatives, 3 to Labour and 1 to the SNP. This time round, Malc reckons the Conservatives will still take 3, Labour will take 2, and the Lib Dems and the SNP will win one apiece.
While this is a good region for the Conservatives, with a number of seats where they have a large core vote, with poll ratings as they are, I cannot see them taking three seats out of this region this time round. The Lib Dems will take one but by the skin of their teeth, preventing the Scottish Greens from winning a list seat.
Moreover, this is the kind of region where Labour needs its list strategy to work for it. In 1999 and 2003 when they took the lion’s share of constituency seats, Labour did not pick up any on the list. This time I reckon they might just manage one, which will result in John Park breathing a big sigh of relief, having stood down from the candidacy in Dunfermline. This means, of course, that the SNP will take three and Bruce Crawford and Keith Brown will get back to Holyrood, with Annabelle Ewing finally getting to follow her mother and brother into the Scottish Parliament.
So, my list tally is: 3 SNP, 2 Conservatives, 1 Labour and 1 Lib Dem.
Out of this region, Malc reckoned that the the SNP would win a total of six seats while I am predicting that they will do likewise but with more list top ups than constituencies held or gained. Malc says that Labour will take 5 but I think they will win 6, gaining one at the Conservatives’ expense on the list. Malc reckons they will hold on to their usual three list seats, I say two and finally, we both agree that the Lib Dems will win two seats, 1 constituency and 1 on the list.
And that’s another one done and dusted. Though as I pointed out, if the SNP keep gaining in the polls, especially on the constituency vote, I might be eating these words or forced to do it all again in a fortnight’s time.