Key battlegrounds in Scottish Parliament election

Katrine Bussey, PA Scotland Political Editor
·3-min read

The Scottish Parliament election will see 73 MSPs returned to Holyrood to represent constituencies across the country.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the battleground seats which could prove crucial in determining the outcome of the election.

Dumbarton

Anas Sarwar and Jackie Baillie
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Jackie Baillie hope to hold on to her Dumbarton seat (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Labour’s Jackie Baillie has held the seat of Dumbarton since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999. But in the 2016 election her majority was cut to just 109 votes, making it the most marginal seat in Scotland. With Nicola Sturgeon hoping to win an overall majority as she pushes for a second independence referendum, this constituency is one the SNP hopes to win. But Labour, whose fortunes appear to have been revived somewhat by new leader Anas Sarwar, will be desperate to hold on to it.

Edinburgh Central

Former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson is hoping to make a return to elected politics, as he contests the Edinburgh Central seat for the SNP (Jane Barlow/PA)
Former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson is hoping to make a return to elected politics, as he contests the Edinburgh Central seat for the SNP (Jane Barlow/PA)

The seat was captured by Ruth Davidson, then Scottish Conservative leader, in 2016 when the Tories had their best ever result in a Holyrood election. Ms Davidson unseated then local government minister Marco Biagi to claim the seat from the SNP. Mr Biagi had won the seat from Labour in 2011 – the year that the SNP won an unprecedented overall majority at Holyrood. With Ms Davidson quitting Holyrood for the House of Lords, former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson is running in the constituency, hoping he can recapture the seat for Nicola Sturgeon.

Glasgow Southside

Anas Sarwar has chosen to take on Nicola Sturgeon in the Glasgow Southside constituency (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Anas Sarwar has chosen to take on Nicola Sturgeon in the Glasgow Southside constituency (Andrew Milligan/PA)

There is no doubt Nicola Sturgeon will hold on to her seat, which she first won for the SNP a decade ago and she took it with a majority of 9,593 votes in 2016. But this election contest is notable because it is a battle involving two party leaders, with new Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar electing to take on Ms Sturgeon. Mr Sarwar, who is setting out to revive his party’s electoral fortunes, said he wanted to run in the constituency because it is where his home is.

Caithness, Sutherland and Ross

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This is the top target seat for Willie Rennie’s Scottish Liberal Democrats. Their candidate Molly Nolan is from the Highlands, having returned to the area after studying at Harvard University in the US. The SNP’s Gail Ross won the seat in 2016, but after she decided to leave Holyrood it is being contested this time round by children’s minister Maree Todd. This is the northernmost constituency on the mainland, and covers a vast area across the Highlands – an area which was formerly a heartlands for the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Eastwood

Jackson Carlaw
Jackson Carlaw hopes to hold on to his Eastwood seat (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Jackson Carlaw won this affluent, suburban constituency on the outskirts of Glasgow for the Conservatives in 2016. Prior to that the seat had been held by Labour since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999. But with the SNP holding the corresponding East Renfrewshire constituency at Westminster, Nicola Sturgeon’s party will be pushing to win this seat at Holyrood for the first time.