General election 2019: Which way will Edinburgh’s five constituencies swing in December’s vote?

With December’s general election looming, EN4 News political correspondents Andrew McDonald and Iain Leggat assess the state of play in Edinburgh’s five constituencies and attempt to call the result.

 

Edinburgh South

Edinburgh South (Credit: Ordnance Survey)

A predominantly suburban constituency, starting from parts of Bruntsfield, Marchmont and Morningside and stretching out to Gilmerton and Fairmilehead in Edinburgh’s outskirts, Edinburgh South used to be a tight Labour/Lib Dem marginal until the SNP wave of 2015 – since then it has been a straight battle between them and Labour’s Ian Murray. EN4 News also joined the sitting MP, Labour’s Ian Murray, on the campaign trail.

Predictions:

McDonald: The SNP are campaigning hard here because it’s one of only two mainland seats they’ve never held. There is a reason for that though, and Ian Murray remains the safest of Labour’s Scottish MPs. Sure bet and a LABOUR HOLD.

Leggat: It’s going to take a lot to stop Ian Murray, despite the Unite union members trying to oust him before the campaign. He’s immensely popular and on course for a big win in the constituency. SNP want this bad, but Murray has full control so LABOUR HOLD.

Edinburgh South-West

Edinburgh South West (Credit: Ordnance Survey)

The only Edinburgh constituency that differs from merely being North/East/South or West, Edinburgh South-West was created in 2005 to replace the Edinburgh Pentlands constituency, while also taking some more of central Edinburgh.

It has a mix of urban-city areas like Fountainbridge moving out through half of Edinburgh’s western commuter belt and parts of Sighthill and Balerno and finishing in Edinburgh’s rural outskirts. This used to be Chancellor Alistair Darling’s seat until he stepped down in 2015 – it’s been held by the SNP and Joanna Cherry QC since then.

Predictions:

McDonald: A three-way battle can always go any way due to the nature of first past the post (FPTP) – and in winter, weather-influenced turnout could turn up a freak result. Cherry’s increased fame and declining support for 2nd-placed Tories and 3rd-placed Labour will likely see this stay SNP though, so SNP HOLD.

Leggat: The most exciting battle in the capital, but Joanna Cherry’s public displays of anti-Brexit heroism will make her a tough candidate to beat. Callum Laidlaw for the Conservatives is the biggest threat, leading with a pro-union, anti-indyref 2 argument. Very tough to predict, but SNP HOLD…just.

Edinburgh West

Edinburgh West (Credit: Ordnance Survey)

Commuter belt territory moving from parts of Gorgie and all of Murrayfield, Davidson’s Mains and Silverknowes all the way out to include the airport and South Queensferry, making Edinburgh West the largest of Edinburgh’s constituencies by land mass. Went from being safely Conservative to safely Liberal Democrat in the 1990s. Lib Dem Christine Jardine won the seat back from the SNP, who took it in 2015.

Predictions:

McDonald: Edinburgh West elected an SNP MP in 2015 and she didn’t last a year before (since dropped) fraud allegations lost her the whip. That trust is hard to win back, and Jardine remains a popular MP. Confident bet from me and a LIB DEM HOLD.

Leggat: SNP will be keen to win this back after failing to retain in 2017, and I am predicting a shock victory. They have gone for Sarah Mason as their candidate and I think she can pose a real threat to the incredibly popular Christine Jardine. A surge in SNP votes across the country will see Lib Dems lose a stronghold. SNP GAIN.

Edinburgh North and Leith

Edinburgh North and Leith (Credit: Ordnance Survey)

Holding everything from Leith to the Northside of Princes Street and stretching down to Fettes College and The Royal Botanical Gardens, it’s a constituency with a wide demographic within the city. It was a Labour seat from its first use in 1997 all the way to 2015 where the SNP took another shock victory during their storming electoral campaign. Deidre Brock claimed the victory and held her seat in 2017. It was an incredibly tight victory for Brock just fending off her nearest challenger, Labour’s Gordon Munro, by just under 2000 votes.

Predictions:

McDonald: A traditionally working class area with a high Remain vote and a high No vote, this is one of Labour’s top target seats. They’ll fancy their chances of overturning the SNP’s 1600 majority from 2017 and whether they can do it will depend on the stickiness of the Conservatives’ 2017 vote and on youth turnout in a constituency with a large student population. Hard to call but if Labour are going to win anywhere in Scotland, it’ll be here with a LABOUR GAIN.

Leggat: I think the pull to vote SNP nationwide will secure the seat for Deidre Brock. Gordon Munro will try his hardest to claim back a traditionally Labour seat and attempt to spur on the student population of Leith, but with the nationalist identity around the area, I think SNP are just about safe. SNP HOLD.

 

Edinburgh East

Edinburgh East (Credit: Ordnance Survey)

This constituency contains the city centre of Edinburgh, as well as the University of Edinburgh and one of the city’s most deprived areas in Craigmillar. It stretches from Portobello all the way to Tollcross and the Southside. Historically, Edinburgh East has been a Labour stronghold, with the party holding it all the way from the 1930s right up until 2015, where the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard claimed the seat from Sheila Gilmour. Sheppard secured the seat again in 2017, losing 7% of his majority in the process.

Predictions:

McDonald: Popular MP, decent majority and the other parties are putting in little effort here. If this doesn’t stay SNP I’ll eat Iain’s hat so therefore… SNP HOLD.

Leggat: Can Labour’s Sheila Gilmore claim her seat back? Most probably not. Tommy Sheppard is an easy bet to secure his seat. Labour are in with the only real shot and did make small gains in 2017, but the popularity of Sheppard will see him through to a SNP HOLD.

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