IN a country that consists almost entirely of marginal seats, East Renfrewshire is still set to be one of the most exciting contests in next month’s General Election.

The area as a whole is an awkward creation, combining the affluent and traditionally Conservative district of Eastwood with the much more working-class areas of Barrhead and Neilston that have leaned towards the SNP in recent years.

READ MORE: Paul Masterton hopes election pledge will add up

At the last General Election, back in 2017, Tory candidate Paul Masterton benefitted enormously from a Pro-Union backlash against the SNP. This time around, he may be on the sharp end of support for the other union.

Barrhead News: Paul Masterton faces a battle to retain his seat Paul Masterton faces a battle to retain his seat

East Renfrewshire delivered the second strongest Remain vote in Scotland in the 2016 referendum on whether or not the UK should leave the European Union, which may make a Conservative Party that is now so strongly committed to a hard Brexit an unappealing prospect for many.



With the Liberal Democrats seemingly back on the up and positioning themselves as the party of both unions, they may prove an attractive option for some of the Conservatives’ 2017 voters.

On the other hand, the Brexit Party were originally intending to stand in East Renfrewshire, with Barrhead councillor Paul Aitken flying their flag, before deciding not to contest any Conservative-held seats in the UK.

Barrhead News: Jim Murphy lost his seat to Kirsten Oswald in 2015 Jim Murphy lost his seat to Kirsten Oswald in 2015

Although they would have won relatively few votes here, those would have come largely at the Conservatives’ expense, so their absence might take a little bit of pressure off Mr Masterton in the event of a tight contest. 

Labour were badly bruised here in 2015, when Scottish leader Jim Murphy lost his seat after 18 years.

They tried very hard to win it back at the last election, pinning their hopes on former Better Together chief Blair McDougall’s pro-Union credentials. That didn’t work out for them and, with many more marginal seats looking for resources this time, East Renfrewshire doesn’t seem an obvious priority.

READ MORE: Kirsten Oswald has no regrets as she bids to regain Westminster seat

In the context of this fractured vote across pro-Union parties, the SNP may not even need to increase their vote share much to see Kirsten Oswald retake the seat.

Nonetheless, recent polling showing them on track to improve on their 2017 performance nationally will have boosted local confidence.

Scotland-wide, the Conservatives once again risk finding themselves undone and under-represented by the ‘first past the post’ electoral system they so strongly support.

By guest columnist Allan Faulds 

Barrhead News: Allan Faulds Allan Faulds

THE battle to win the hearts and minds of East Renfrewshire voters is now in full swing as the General Election approaches.

And, today, the Barrhead News turns the spotlight on the local constituency...examining its role in helping to decide the UK’s future direction.

Allan Faulds, who runs the Ballot Box Scotland website, casts his expert eye over the electoral landscape of East Renfrewshire and examines the factors to be taken into consideration when attempting to predict the outcome.

Ballot Box Scotland tracks data from elections across the country and is able to provide an overview of what to expect in each constituency as the results from the December 12 vote take shape.

You can find out more here