For some reason, Labour has never done well in Angus. This has struck me as strange, as some parts of the county suffers from real deprivation – some areas of Brechin and Arbroath, for example are amongst the poorest in Scotland outside of Glasgow. Even elsewhere, Angus has some of the lowest paid workers in Scotland, with relatively high levels of people on some form of benefit. It’s not your normal stockbroker belt, yet Angus has traditionally returned Tories, but since 1974 the SNP has performed well here. Just because it’s a rural area doesn’t mean there isn’t deprivation.
For the 2011 Holyrood elections, Angus has been split into two seats, both relatively safe for the SNP. Angus South gets Carnoustie and Monifieth back from Dundee East, whilst Angus North and Mearns is formed from Montrose, Brechin and Forfar, and part of West Aberdeenshire, including Stonehaven and Laurencekirk – basically the old Westminster seat of North Angus and Mearns plus Forfar. On the notional results, Labour come 3rd in Angus South, and 4th in Angus North, but I think that we actually have a chance in Angus North of moving into 2nd place, putting us in a good position for the 2012 council elections.
In Angus North, we are notionally only 2200 votes behind the 2nd placed Tories, and a swing of as little as 4.6% to us from them will see us reach a level we haven’t been at here since for over 40 years. Although it might seem that Angus South is a better area for us, as we are currently third, we have a bigger mountain to climb to overhaul the Tories. The Liberal democrat vote will surely crumble as the cuts begin to bite, and we must be ready to pick up those disaffected Liberal voters, who now realise that a vote for the Lib Dems is really a vote for the conservatives.
We cannot see the conservatives gaining votes here, although the current opinion polling suggest an increase in support for them, those Scottish polls I’ve seen show them static, or slightly down in Scotland, and by next May the effect of the coalition will be better known. The SNP will have a new candidate, so I also expect a drop in their support. Although their candidate is a current list MSP for the North East Scotland region, he is little known within the constituency. Jeff at Better Nation has done some analysis which suggests that the retrial of a sitting MSP reduces the parties’ vote by 4-7%.
So there is every chance of Labour making advances in Angus North, at the expense of all 3 of the other parties, if we work hard enough. What do you think we should do to help make this happen?