Central Scotland - Region Overview

Central Scotland incorporates the historically heavily industrialised stretch of the Central Belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh. It consists of parts of three Council Areas – Falkirk and North Lanarkshire in full, plus the central portion of South Lanarkshire. The original 1999 version of the Central Region extended even further, incorporating the Kilmarnock and Loudon area of East Ayrshire!

From the centuries-old burghs of Falkirk and Hamilton, to the mining and steelworking capitals of Coatbridge and Motherwell, and the Glasgow-overspill New Towns of Cumbernauld and East Kilbride, this region is defined by Central Belt Scotland’s industrial heritage. That meant the area was overwhelmingly Labour by the latter half of the 20th century. Cumbernauld did briefly have a Conservative MP as part of the East Dunbartonshire constituency in February 1974, before that then became an SNP MP from October that year until 1979. 

After that, the whole area was consistently Labour for parliamentary elections, with no other party really getting a look in. When Labour swept almost every seat in the Central Belt in 1997, that just meant their already weighty majorities in this area were padded further.

At that first election, the only thing that prevented them from winning every constituency in the region was their decision not to select incumbent Labour MP Dennis Canavan as their candidate for Falkirk West. A popular local figure, he won easily as an Independent. The list seats then went five to the SNP, with one apiece for the Lib Dems and Conservatives.

MSPs Elected:
9 Labour (all Constituency)
5 SNP (all Regional)
1 Conservative (Regional)
1 Independent (Dennis Canavan, Falkirk West Constituency)
1 Liberal Democrat (Regional)

In 2003’s Rainbow Parliament, the same pattern of constituencies prevailed, but the weakening of the SNP vote and surge for smaller parties saw them lose two seats. In their place came one Scottish Socialist Party MSP and, uniquely, a Scottish Senior Citizen’s Unity Party MSP in the form of John Swinburne.

MSPs Elected:
9 Labour (all Constituency)
3 SNP (all Regional)
1 Conservative (Regional)
1 Independent (Dennis Canavan, Falkirk West Constituency)
1 SSP (Regional)
1 SSCUP (Regional)
1 Liberal Democrat (Regional)

Falkirk West remained a non-Labour constituency in 2007, though following Canavan’s retirement it was the SNP who picked it up. They also gained the Kilmarnock and Loudon seat, in the last election it formed part of this region. The collapse of smaller parties saw those two rainbow list seats return to the SNP as well.


8 Labour (all Constituency)
7 SNP (5 Regional, 2 Constituency)
1 Conservative (Regional)
1 Liberal Democrat (Regional)

With the SNP surging to majority government in 2011, they picked up six of the nine constituencies in the redrawn region, leaving Labour with just three. Both parties then picked up three list seats to join the single Conservative, as the cratering Lib Dem vote relieved their MSP of a seat.

MSPs Elected:
9 SNP (6 Constituency, 3 Regional)
6 Labour (3 Constituency, 3 Regional)
1 Conservative (Regional)

2016 would bring further success for the SNP in the Constituency races, winning all of them. In compensation, Labour were left with four list seats, and the sudden growth in Conservative support saw that party win the remaining three. Growth for the Greens wasn’t enough to secure a seat, and despite small gains for the Lib Dems, this was the only region they were pushed into 6th place by UKIP.

MSPs Elected:
9 SNP (all Constituency)
4 Labour (all Regional)
3 Conservative (all Regional)

At this point, with the SNP still polling extremely well and Labour lower than their 2016 result, don’t expect to see any changes in the constituencies. Those are almost certain to see the SNP romp home with a clean sweep again.

If change does come, it’ll be via the list seats. Labour could well lose a seat on current polling, but where would it go? The Conservatives are closer to losing their third seat than winning a fourth, and would need upwards of 10,000 more votes to close the gap. With their Brexit Bounce all but dissipated, the Lib Dems are vanishingly unlikely to do nab a seat either given this is their weakest region.

The SNP’s strength here is such that they could actually pick up a list seat in addition to their constituency haul. Alternatively, the Greens need the least growth (around 2,000 votes short in 2016) of any challenging party to pick the seat up, but polling thus far has been inconsistent on whether they’d gain enough.

Central Scotland - Overall Regional Results

Total MSPs Elected 2016


9 SNP (all Constituency)
4 Labour (all Regional)
3 Conservative (all Regional)

Regional List MSPs Elected 2016


#1: Labour - Richard Leonard
#2: Conservative - Margaret Mitchell
#3: Labour - Monica Lennon
#4: Labour - Mark Griffin
#5: Conservative - Graham Simpson
#6: Labour - Elaine Smith
#7: Conservative - Alison Harris

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Regional List Candidates 2021

Airdrie and Shotts

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Alex Neil
Majority: 6192 (23.3%)
Turnout: 49.4%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Coatbridge and Chryston

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Fulton MacGregor
Majority: 3779 (13.3%)
Turnout: 53.4%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Jamie Hepburn
Majority: 9478 (33.4%)
Turnout: 56.8%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

East Kilbride

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP: Linda Fabiani
Majority: 10979 (31.7%)
Turnout: 56.8%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Falkirk East

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP - Angus MacDonald
Majority: 8312 (25.6%)
Turnout: 54.1%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Falkirk West

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP - Michael Matheson
Majority: 11280 (35.2%)
Turnout: 53.8%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP - Christina McKelvie
Majority: 5437 (18.8%)
Turnout: 50.2%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Motherwell and Wishaw

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP - Clare Adamson
Majority: 6223 (21.4%)
Turnout: 51.2%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC

Uddingston and Bellshill

Constituency MSP Elected 2016, Majority and Turnout


SNP - Richard Lyle
Majority: 4809 (16.3%)
Turnout: 51.5%

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Constituency Candidates 2021

TBC