The full list of candidates have been announced for the Airdrie & Shotts constituency, and these are:
William Peter Maurice Crossman – Scottish Lib Dems
Neil Charles Gray – SNP
Helen Margaret McFarlane – Scottish Labour
Rosemary McGowan – Scottish Green Party
Lorraine Nolan – Scottish Conservative
We are through the looking glass in many respects. I’ve spoken to people who normally vote pro-independence / SNP who say they don’t know who to vote for, with some people considering voting Lib-Dem. The anti-Brexit vote will have a choice of three of the above, or four depending how they perceive Labour’s stance on any given day. This does mean that if the Tories play strongly on delivering Brexit they could well take a significant amount of voters who would not otherwise be disposed towards them.
This is a reverse of the usual Scottish situation where the Better Together parties are all fishing in the same barrel, but they would still need to increase their vote by around 100% of their last tally in 2017 to have any chance of taking the seat.
Writing off the Tories still leaves things too close to call with the Lib Dems possibly taking soft SNP and Labour voters, but again still not enough to take the seat. This is an election which the Greens could comfortably have sat out. but they have taken the decision to stand, and Patrick Harvie has said that that these decisions would be taken locally. Given the rather small membership of the Scottish Greens then that decision will likely have been driven by the candidate Rosemary McGowan, and if her participation draws votes from the SNP and is perceived to have lost them the seat then it won’t bode well for the Holyrood elections, and may be a costly vanity project which raises the candidates profile in the short term and damages it in the long term.
I’ve seen no local electoral material yet and as far as I’m aware no hustings will be taking place, so we haven’t exactly reached fever pitch. Locally the SNP dropped around 10,000 votes from 2015 to 2017 and that was primarily down to failure to motivate their core support. Perhaps this was down to the downplaying of independence during the campaign, or maybe this was down to their voters having seen their previous mountainous majorities and assuming that their votes weren’t that important. That mistake could be about to be replayed with the media already shouting that the SNP are likely to oust all of Scotland’s Tories. There’s a hubristic sense of ‘job done’ being displayed which could well be Kinnockian in scope, and if so that will be incredibly damaging.
As it stands it’s still too close to call though, and that’s the message that the SNP will have to shout from the rooftops if they are to entertain their hopes of giving the unionist parties the bloody nose they hope to inflict; otherwise they may find their aim is off and they are left punch drunk on the canvas, wondering what hit them.