Scottish Parliament Boundary Review 2: Revised Proposals

Note: Due to the detailed nature of the topic, this piece is significantly longer than a usual BBS article!


What's Happening?

Last year, Boundaries Scotland published their initial proposals for new Scottish Parliament boundaries. I wrote about that quite extensively here, including an explanation of why it was happening and what the process was. They have now published their revised proposals, which are available here for consultation until the 15th of May.

I won’t re-write the whole intro to that piece again, but the short version is this is a legal requirement, it hasn’t been demanded by any government or party, and the commission is non-partisan and is not engaged in gerrymandering. Many of the oddities that you see arise from a combination of First Past the Post and who shouted the loudest in the initial consultation.

I had been intending to write about these revised proposals much earlier, but all the recent drama of Scottish politics has been eating up the energy I had for political engagement, so I’m afraid this analysis is now running very close to the end point for the consultation. As with the 

Describing Changes


I’m using a slightly different approach to describing geographic changes than Boundaries Scotland did, by outlining whether changes are minor, major, or effectively result in a new constituency entirely.

  • Unchanged – Self-explanatory!
  • Minor – Only a minor change to an existing seat, which may include a change of name.
  • Major – Major change to an existing seat, which nonetheless remains recognisable in some form.
  • New – A constituency with big enough changes it’s worth viewing as a new seat entirely.


Although it’s not in any way the point of the exercise, it’s an inevitable fact that if you change electoral boundaries, that has an impact on the political balance of the changed seats. However, the fact that the Scottish Parliament is partly proportional means that boundary changes are both likely to be less consequential than under pure FPTP, and less direct.

When AMS is working to perfection, changing a constituency between parties without any difference in regional vote just triggers an equal but opposite change in list seats. So for example, the Conservatives winning an additional constituency in the South region doesn’t actually give them an additional seat, as they receive one fewer list seat, and the SNP get one more.

When AMS isn’t working to perfection, because a party has exceeded its proportional share via constituencies, it may not be the party losing another constituency which loses a seat. As another example, the SNP already had one seat more than their proportional share in the North East region in 2021, costing the Conservatives a list seat. If they’d also won the one constituency the Conservatives won, then the compensating list seat for the Conservatives would come from Labour, who had won the 7th and final list seat otherwise.

For a very small number of constituencies I have done a first pass at a “notional” 2021 vote share on the new boundaries. By the nature of the SNP’s dominance in 2021, very few boundary changes meaningfully change the outcome, but there are places it is interesting to look at. Again, I outlined some of the detail for how I do this in the piece about the initial proposals

Brief Overview

The maps below show a simple side by side comparison of current and existing constituencies. Although Boundaries Scotland have not grouped constituencies into regions at this stage, I have given two scenarios for my best guess at regional configurations. Scenario 1 aims to minimise changes compared to the current regional boundaries, whereas Scenario 2 prioritises alignment with council boundaries. In reality these scenarios centre on just two constituencies, which swap between Lothian and South in each scenario.

That overall picture out of the way, let’s delve right into the detail of the proposals! I’ll take each (likely) region in turn, with the grouping based on the first scenario but commentary covering both. I am not providing the map for each constituency because you can get those from Boundaries Scotland here.


There are some really dramatic changes to the Central region compared to the initial proposals, which were suggesting a lot of tweaks to the Lanarkshire seats whilst leaving Falkirk alone. Oddly, that therefore means there are much smaller changes compared to the current boundaries, as six of the Lanarkshire seats are unchanged, whilst Falkirk is carved up.

Airdrie (Minor)

No change to the current boundary, just the name loses “and Shotts”. That reverts the initial proposals for “Airdrie, Newmains and Shotts” which would have extended to Newmains, Cambusnethan and Coltness.

Coatbridge and Chryston (Unchanged)

Reverts the proposals that split this seat between initial “Cumbernauld and Chryston” and “Bellshill and Coatbridge” suggestions. 

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (Major)

The only Lanarkshire constituency with any changes in the revised proposals, it extends to take in the Denny and Banknock areas of Falkirk. That’s significantly different to the initial proposal which was for “Cumbernauld and Chryston”, whilst losing the Kilsyth area to “Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth”.

East Kilbride (Unchanged)

I’m not sure why it was felt to be that consequential, but the initial proposal had been to extend to some new housebuilding in the south west that’s clearly part of East Kilbride town but was in the Clydesdale constituency. That has been reverted here, meaning that although there’s no change on current boundaries, it keeps a weird fracture point.

Falkirk North (Major)

This contains the bulk of Falkirk, including the town itself, plus Bonnybridge, Larbert, Stenhousemuir, Carron, and that section of the Carse of Stirling that’s in Falkirk council area. The current East-West division of Falkirk is admittedly a little awkward to the north of the town, so in some respects, this is a neater constituency than currently exists. Population wise this mostly replaces Falkirk West.

Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse (Unchanged)

Reverts the proposals that split this seat between initial “Hamilton and Uddingston” and “Larkhall and Clydesdale” suggestions.

Linlithgow and Falkirk South (Major)

This introduces not just a break with council boundaries, but also with current regional boundaries, by combining parts of Falkirk (primarily Grangemout and Polmont, plus the cluster of villages in between there and Falkirk itself) with West Lothian (Linlithgow, obviously, but also Bo’Ness and Winchburgh). My personal feeling is this makes most sense to exist in the Central region, which further fragments the Lothians which have never fully fit into the Lothian region. This replaces the bulk of the Falkirk East seat, and it also simply changes the direction of Linlithgow’s pairing, which in the initial proposals had been instead an “Edinburgh Forth and Linlithgow” seat.

Motherwell and Wishaw (Unchanged)

Reverts the proposals for a “Motherwell” seat that lost Newmains, Coltness and Cambusnethan but gained Holytown, New Stevenston and Newarthill.

Uddingston and Bellshill (Unchanged)

Reverts the proposals that split this seat between initial “Hamilton and Uddingston” and “Coatbridge and Bellshill” suggestions.

Regional Impact

The overall boundaries of the region would have to change to account for new constituency boundaries, expanding to include that Linlithgow component. In 2021, the Greens scraped the last seat in the region here by just 107 votes over a fourth Labour seat, which would be very susceptible to possible changes. Adding Linlithgow is very much to the Greens’ benefit here however as it’s their strongest bit of West Lothian, boosting their vote share enough they actually end up with the sixth regional seat overall rather than the last.

It’s worth noting that Linlithgow is also a very good spot for the Lib Dems. Although Central Scotland overall feels like a deadzone for the party, if a rising national tide is nonetheless felt locally, the extra 0.3% Linlithgow added to their vote in 2021 terms could very well make the difference to their unlikely return to this region.


Some really significant changes were proposed for Glasgow in the initial round, and there have been further massive changes here. Those have been so significant that Boundaries Scotland are now proposing completely scrapping locality names, and following the Westminster model of purely directional names. I personally would strongly oppose this, purely because many of the names therefore end up very similar to their Westminster counterparts. I do not believe that “North East” versus “North Eastern” is meaningfully different enough for ordinary voters to really understand the difference between the parliaments.

I have to admit, I’m actually quite angry about these Glasgow proposals, and it’s entirely because Boundaries Scotland have listened to the posh people who shout the loudest. The Glasgow Priesthill and Giffnock seat in the initial proposals wasn’t ideal, sure, but the nature of First Past the Post is forcing this review to extend a Glasgow seat beyond the city council boundary, and the northern part of East Renfrewshire absolutely is simply a Glasgow suburb. It’s part of a contiguous urban area, to the extent there are streets that the houses on one side are in Glasgow and on the other in East Renfrewshire. It made sense within the overly-constricted rules of First Past the Post.

But oh no, the good, well-heeled people of East Renfrewshire were aghast. They couldn’t be put in with areas like Priesthill, that’s a separate community! Unspoken – though I didn’t read every response, and from past experience some people are happy to be explicit about this – was the fact that people who live in Priesthill and surrounding areas are, eugh, poor. We can’t be associated with the likes of them, do we now? Well yes you can, actually, and don’t be such awful snobs. The north west of Glasgow has consistently paired Drumchapel and Jordanhill, despite vast disparities in affluence and privilege, because that’s what happens when you draw up boundaries based on geographic proximity.

Regardless, they moaned loudly enough to have that proposal scrapped, and instead there’s a new Erskine and Cardonald proposal which makes the Glasgow region expand further beyond the urban environs of the city.  That is an objectively worse arrangement, it’s utterly stupid, and I encourage everyone to respond to the consultation and say exactly that. If Glasgow’s electoral region has to expand beyond city boundaries (beyond the existing Rutherglen seat), it should be to its own suburbs, not adding another completely separate town, the entitled outrage of snobs be damned.

Erskine and Cardonald (New)

This is it, this is the hateful monstrosity we could be lumbered with because some people in East Renfrewshire are sickened by the very prospect of accepting any ties to Glasgow. This takes the Cardonald portion of the current Glasgow Pollok and what was “Glasgow Cardonald and Pollok” in the initial proposals, and pairs it with Renfrew (which is part of the Greater Glasgow urban area, and was initially intended for a “Paisley and Renfrew” seat) and Erskine (which is not, and in initial proposals was in “Renfrewshire West”), both of which are currently in Renfrewshire North and West.

Erskine has some of the most obvious geographic separation from Glasgow of any nearby area, as it has a river, an airport, a golf course, a water treatment plant, and some farmland separating it from Renfrew and Paisley. To paraphrase Regina George, this is the ugliest effing constituency I’ve ever seen. Tell Boundaries Scotland to burn the idea in a cleansing fire and come up with something better.

Glasgow Central (New)

None of the current Glasgow constituencies cross the river, but it has been impossible not to do so in this review. The core of this constituency, including Tradeston, Kinning Park, Cessnock, Pollokshields, Dumbreck, Crossmyloof, Strathbungo and Shawlands comes from the current Glasgow Southside. It also draws in the city centre plus Garnethill, Finnieston and Yorkhill from the current Glasgow Kelvin, plus Craigton and Govan from the current Glasgow Pollok. 

This is also very different from the initial “Glasgow Central and Govan” which didn’t extend south of the railway line, but did include the Gorbals and Oatlands (also from the current Glasgow Southside) plus Calton, Bridgeton and Gallowgate (from the current Glasgow Shettleston).

Glasgow Northern (Major)

This is the same as the initially proposed “Glasgow Kelvin and Maryhill”, just with a new name. From the current Glasgow Kelvin this only retains Hillhead, Hyndland and Dowanhill. It gains Claythorn from Glasgow Anniesland, and then areas like Maryhill, Lambhill, Ruchill (lots of -hills here, how positively Roman) and the western part of Possil from Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn. The Greens will be absolutely scunnered with this one, as they’d tried to win the current Glasgow Kelvin at the past two Holyrood elections, coming second both times.

The existing constituency consists almost entirely of strong Green areas, but being split three ways dilutes that significantly. Although the core here contains the best Green ward in the country at Hillhead, Kelvindale, Maryhill and Ruchill just cannot compare to removed areas like Thornwood, Finnieston and Garnethill. I haven’t done formal estimates because for this I’d need to further try and estimate Green shares in the bits they didn’t stand in, but this one is extremely unlikely to be Green-winnable in this state.

Glasgow Eastern (Major)

This is a redrawing of the initially proposed “Glasgow Shettleston and Baillieston”. The bulk of this is the current Glasgow Shettleston bar the Calton and Bridgeton bits, which were removed in the initial proposals, whilst Dalmarnock and Newbank have been removed in the revised version. It also draws in areas like Riddrie, Carntyne, Cranhill and Springboig from the current Glasgow Provan.

Glasgow North Eastern (Major)

This is the same as the initially proposed “Glasgow Springburn and Provan”. Most of this comes from the current Glasgow Provan, namely Easterhouse, Garthamlock, Robroyston, Provanmill and Dennistoun. From Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, this has the east of Possil, Milton, and Springburn itself.

Glasgow Southern (New)

Having abandoned the “Glasgow Priesthill and Giffnock” proposal, the entire south of the city now has to awkwardly wrap around an area that is functionally part of it. Most of this seat comes from the current Glasgow Cathcart, which is only shorn of its Battlefield and Mount Florida components. It also draws in the southern half of the current Glasgow Pollok, including Pollok itself, Crookston, Nitshill, Priesthill, Parkhouse, Darnley and Arden.

In the initial proposals, Priesthill, Nitshill, Parkhouse, Darnley and Arden had been in that “Glasgow Priesthill and Giffnock” seat, alongside Newlands and Auldhouse, whereas the Castlemilk, Cathcart and Carmunnock areas had been within the suggested “Glasgow Southside and Cathcart” seat.

Glasgow South Eastern (New)

Whilst the initial proposals had kept Clyde-crossing to one constituency, this time around there’s a second constituency proposed to cross the river. From the current Glasgow Shettleston this takes in the likes of Calton, Gallowgate, Parkhead, Dalmarnock and Bridgeton. From Glasgow Southside it includes the Gorbals, Govanhill, Polmadie and Toryglen. And finally, from Glasgow Cathcart, it has Battlefield and Mount Florida.

The components north of the river had mostly been in the proposed “Glasgow Central and Govan” in the initial version, except Dalmarnock and Newbank which were in “Glasgow Shettleston and Baillieston”. The areas south of the Clyde were instead within the suggested “Glasgow Southside and Cathcart”.

Glasgow Western (Minor)

This is the same as the initially proposed “Glasgow Anniesland”, which gains Thornwood from the current Glasgow Kelvin, loses Claythorn to the redrawn Kelvin and Maryhill. 

Rutherglen (Unchanged)

This reverts the initially proposed tiny trim to remove a housing estate in Blantyre.

Regional Impact

In addition to the blowing Kelvin to smithereens, the Greens also won’t be best pleased with Renfrew and Erskine being added to the region. Whilst they didn’t stand in much of Renfrewshire in 2022, they stood everywhere in 2017 and Erskine was their weakest ward, whilst the Renfrew wards were below average. By contrast, adding any areas outside of the city makes things better for the Conservatives, widening the gap between the two for the last seat. That’s still an easily closable gap for the Greens however, especially when you consider that there’s still an SNP overhang here that has blocked a second MSP they are proportionally entitled to.

Highlands and Islands

As the three Islands constituencies are not included in boundary changes, combined with only some very minor changes to the Inverness seat, Highlands and Islands would be the second least altered region overall.

Argyll and Bute (Unchanged)

You do rather get the impression that Boundaries Scotland suggested this expanding to include the Lomond North ward in the initial proposals, because the existing seat has the lowest electorate of any unprotected constituency, with the full intention of walking it back after the inevitable outrage merchantry. That is exactly what has happened, with the special circumstances of being an islands-inclusive and rural constituency preserving the seat once again.

Caithness, Sutherland and Ross (Unchanged)

Still the geographically biggest constituency in the country.

Inverness and Nairn (Minor)

In the initial proposals, this amounted simply to losing Nethy Bridge and Boat of Garten. That has now been extended to losing Grantown-on-Spey and surrounds. Although that creates a much, much smaller constituency purely geographically, the affected number of voters is a much less impactful.

Moray (Unchanged)

Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Unchanged)

Orkney Islands (Unchanged)

Shetland Islands (Unchanged)

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch (Minor)

This picks up the bits that Inverness and Nairn loses, and thus has grown a smidge further since the initial proposals.

Regional Impact

No change to constituency winners, no change to region boundaries, no change to MSPs.


The Lothians region continues to be really messy, due to significant population growth and also the consequences of shifting boundaries elsewhere. The current arrangement has 10 seats entirely in the area we’d think of as Lothian, plus an 11th straddling it, yet only 9 seats in the Lothian Region. The initial proposals increased that to 12 full seats without any straddling. There are now 11 full and two straddlers, which is just really awkward to work with. Remember, to all intents and purposes the maximum number of constituencies a region can have in it is 10, so that’s why this ends up at the centre of my two competing scenarios.

Bathgate (Major)

West Lothian currently has a north-south split in its constituencies, and initial proposals had gone for east-west for the bulk of the area (bearing in mind they’d parcelled Linlithgow in with Edinburgh at that point). This time around it’s back to a north-south split, this being the northern seat, albeit it’s the middle slice relative to the whole council area. Relative to the current Linlithgow constituency, this obviously loses Linlithgow itself as well as Winchburgh, but gains Seafield and Fauldhouse from the current Livingston. Relative to the initial “Bathgate and Almond Valley” proposal it no longer has the Breich villages such as Longridge, Stoneyburn, Polbeth and West Calder.

Edinburgh Central (Major) - Key Seat

The current Edinburgh Central caused one of the biggest shocks of 2016 when then-leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson gained it from the SNP. It also created one of the finest examples of failing to understand the nuances of AMS, as the SNP spent five years seething at the Greens for “splitting the vote”, when had the Greens not done so then (by sheer accident of the numbers) they would have lost out on the second Lothian MSP they were proportionally entitled to in the resulting SNP overhang. It was a hard-fought battleground in 2021, with the SNP eventually prevailing quite comfortably.

This is barely that seat. From the current Edinburgh Central this does indeed contain the city centre, both Old and New Towns, as well as Tollcross, Canongate, and what the map I’m referring to simply calls “Southside”. It also gains Merchiston, Marchmont and Morningside from However, it loses the Murrayfield area to the redrawn Edinburgh North Western and Gorgie to Edinburgh South Western, whilst the Craigleith, Comely Bank and Stockbridge areas all go to the new Edinburgh Northern. On the face of it, this version becomes an SNP-Labour marginal, with the Conservatives nowhere to be seen.

That is not, however, the full story, as at this point the Greens return to the stage. Don’t let the 6.4% there fool you, as that is only coming from the half of the seat drawn from the existing version. Not only was that highly tactically pressured, it also means there’s a big auld 0 for the portions coming from the current Edinburgh Southern. If you look at the map from the 2022 local elections, all bar two of the Edinburgh polling districts the Greens won in 2022 are in this ward. In fact, of the districts making up this new seat, the 2022 votes here were 25.6% Green, 22.0% SNP and 20.9% Labour. With Glasgow Kelvin shattered beyond winnability, this could now be the Greens’ best shot at a constituency breakthrough.

Edinburgh Eastern, Musselburgh and Tranent (New)

A really big change in the east of the city here, as we return to historic form with a pairing between the east of Edinburgh and neighbouring Musselburgh. Compared to the current Edinburgh Eastern, this loses a lot of areas including Restalrig, Craigentinny, Meadowbank, Willowbrae and Duddingston. The western flank of this seat is now Portobello and Brustane, which in the initial proposals had gone to a redrawn “Midlothian North and Musselburgh”. The Musselburgh components of that latter seat remain here, alongside the addition of Tranent, taken from the current East Lothian.

Edinburgh Northern (New) - Key Seat

Another effectively new seat, as it contains so many areas of other existing seats that it’s not really a direct successor to any of them. From the current Edinburgh Northern and Leith it draws Inverleith, Newhaven, Trinity, Granton and Pilton. From Edinburgh Central, it’s got Stockbridge, Comely Bank and Dean Village. And from Edinburgh Western it takes Drylaw, Blackhall, Muirhouse and Silverknowes. You may be looking at the vote shares here and thinking what makes this a key seat – after all, the only competition here appears to be a three-way scrap for second place, with the SNP comfortably in front.

What drew this one to my attention was a certain Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP tweeting that the Lib Dems were quite pleased with this one, and had won the most votes here in the 2022 locals. I ran the numbers myself, and the Lib Dems do indeed come out in front with 29.3% to the SNP’s 25.0%, and it’s third that’s effectively a three-way fight between the Conservatives (15.9%), Labour (14.9%) and Greens (12.7%). If there’s one thing the Lib Dems can do in Edinburgh it’s build a fiefdom off the back of local councillors, so keep an eye on this one if it makes it through the consultation.

Edinburgh North Eastern (New)

A new seat that doesn’t clearly succeed any existing seat, as it’s roughly half-n-half elements from the current Edinburgh Northern and Leith (primarily most of Leith itself) and Edinburgh Eastern (this bits described in the previous seat). The big controversy here may not be the shape of the seat, but the name. It doesn’t have Leith in it! This is, I am given to understand, unthinkable. Leith feels very, very, very strongly that it is Leith, and not Edinburgh, though if I was feeling cheeky I might suggest Leith is just Govan with a coastline – that is, clearly long-absorbed into a major city, but unlike Govan, isn’t hemmed in on all sides so finds it easier to claim continued distinction. They’ll need to put Leith back in the name or there’ll be a riot, basically, or at least the Edinburgh Leith equivalent of one.

Edinburgh North Western (Major) - Key Seat

This is mostly the current Edinburgh Western seat, but it gains Ratho, Murrayfield, Balgreen and Roseburn, whilst losing Silverknowes, Muirhouse, Drylaw and Blackhall. That’s a far less dramatic redrawing than the initially proposed “Edinburgh Forth and Linlithgow”, which from this new version had only contained Cramond, Cammo, Barnton, Kirkliston, Dalmeny and South Queensferry. That also preserves this as a clear and obvious Lib Dem seat, and in fact it gets rid of what are the only three polling districts in the current seat to have been SNP-led in the 2022 locals.

Edinburgh Southern (Major) - Key Seat

Another major redrawing of this seat; whereas the initial proposal had reoriented it to the southwest, here it shifts to the southeast. From the current Edinburgh Southern it loses the likes of Merchiston, Morningside, Marchmont, Craiglockhart (all of which were in the initially proposed redraw) and Slateford. It gains Gilmerton, Gracemount, Burdiehouse and environs from the current (and initially proposed new) Edinburgh Eastern, and Oxgangs and Fairmilehead from the current Edinburgh Pentlands (which were in the initial redraw too).

That creates a boundary very close to the Edinburgh South Westminster seat, just a little wider rather than taller. Despite that similarity, voters do vote rather differently at each level, and also when there’s a clear tactical option that can win versus when there isn’t. That means that whilst the seat remains in Labour hands despite this significant reshaping, their majority is slashed from 8.9% to 1.3%.

You may have seen my initial pass at a notional here on Twitter, which had the SNP a mere 14 votes ahead. That was dramatic but also down to human error. BBS doesn’t run on sophisticated technology, but a lot of slapdash piles of… stuff. A bit like the internet itself, actually. But I had been doing these notionals by hand before a follower pointed out that the obvious thing to do would be to actually feed the data into my GIS software so I could check things more quickly and accurately. Having done so, the software spat out a Labour lead. Given the seat so closely matches the Westminster equivalent that makes more sense – but it also has political consequences, as the SNP were already on one overhang in this region, and that’d have added a second.

Edinburgh South Western (Minor)

This is a redrawn and more blandly named version of the current Edinburgh Pentlands. It gains Slateford and Craiglockhart from the current Edinburgh Southern and western Gorgie from the current Edinburgh Central, but it loses Oxgangs and Fairmilehead to redrawn Edinburgh Southern and Ratho to Edinburgh North Western. It also no longer expands to take in Ratho and South Gyle from the current Edinburgh Western.

Livingston and Breich Valley (Minor)

The current Almond Valley is further modified from the initially proposed “Livingston” seat, which had stripped out everything beyond the three council wards covering Livingston itself. Here it’s gotten most of the Breich Valley area back, losing only Seafield and Fauldhouse to the proposed Bathgate seat.

Midlothian North (Major)

This is very different to the initially proposed redrawing of “Midlothian North and Musselburgh”, which had only contained Dalkeith from Midlothian. This now includes almost all of Midlothian in population terms, with the only other change apart from the loss of Musselburgh compared to the current seatbeing picking up Newtongrange from the current Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale seat. You’d think it’d require a much more significant expansion to compensate for the loss of Musselburgh, and you’d be correct – it’s just that has come from a rapidly growing population, with lots of new housebuilding at the edge of Edinburgh.

Regional Impact - Scenario 1

The boundaries of the region overall would have to change to accommodate constituency changes here, and the sheer size of the Lothian area (as widely understood) versus the allowed size of the Lothian region (at Holyrood) puts it at the centre of the confusion that creates two possible scenarios. Scenario 1 is that Boundaries Scotland attempt to keep regions as close as possible to their current boundaries. Since the primary East Lothian seat has always been in South whilst the primary Midlothian seat has always been in Lothian, that’s what happens here.

Compared to the initial proposals, the SNP don’t end up gaining a constituency from the Lib Dems, so that eases the overhang which had bumped the second Green MSP off the notional results. In fact although the Green share decreases relative to the current boundaries, the fact the Conservatives take quite a big hit from the loss of Linlithgow means the Greens end up with the 6th rather than final list seat.

Scenario 2 is to take advantage of the fact that, for the first time since Holyrood was set up, it’d be possible to contain both East and Midlothian entirely within a single region each. That’d be by taking Midlothian North into the South region, whilst passing Lothian Eastern to Lothian. In this version, its the Greens facing the negative consequences.

By contrast to Scenario 1, trading out Midlothian North for Lothian Eastern helps shore up the Conservative vote, meaning that whilst the total number of seats is the same either way, it’s the Greens who are on the more tenuous 7th and last list seat, as they were on the current boundaries in 2021.

Mid and Fife

Mid Scotland and Fife has gone from relatively quiet in the initial proposals to extremely quiet after revision. The geographic extent of changes is extremely limited, even if the number of voters might be slightly larger than than the minor changes within the two other quiet regions.

Clackmannanshire and Dunblane (Minor)

Last time around, Boundaries Scotland clearly felt the need to beef up the voter numbers in this seat, and did so by extending rurally to include Doune and Thornhill. This time around they’ve scrapped that idea, and have effectively shifted the boundary with Stirling to the Forth, bringing in Causewayhead and Cornton.

Cowdenbeath (Unchanged)

Okay this strictly speaking isn’t true as the boundary line shifts from a side road to the M90, but the only thing taken out is a field and a wind turbine. That reverts the initial proposals to cede Cardenden and vicinity to the redrawn “Mid Fife and Glenrothes”, whilst gaining Burntisland from the current Kirkcaldy and Charlestown and Limekilns from the current Dunfermline.

Dunfermline (Unchanged)

Unless you count that field and wind turbine. No longer loses Charlestown and Limekilns.

Fife North East (Unchanged)

The order of the name has shifted though.

Kirkcaldy (Unchanged)

No longer loses Burntisland.

Mid Fife and Glenrothes (Unchanged)

No longer loses Cardenden.

Perthshire North (Minor)

Gains Almondbank from the southern seat.

Perthshire South and Kinross-shire (Minor)

Loses Almondbank to the northern seat.

Stirling (Minor)

Already not the full council area in one seat, it’s trimmed down by the loss of Causewayhead and Cornton to the redrawn Clackmannanshire and Dunblane.

Regional Impact

Since none of the constituencies would be any different, the SNP’s overhang isn’t rectified, and since the region doesn’t change either, it’s all the same as the actual 2021 vote.

North East

The North East wins the award for “least changes” as there is one very, very small tweak between two constituencies. Everything else is exactly the same.

Aberdeen Central (Unchanged)

Aberdeen Donside (Unchanged)

Aberdeen South and North Kincardine (Unchanged)

Aberdeenshire East (Minor)

Loses Strichen, New Pitsligo, New Leeds and Fetterangus to Banff and Buchan Coast. Compared to the initial proposal, it does not lose the northern half of Longside. Given that village only counts around 1,000 residents, that was an oddity, and one I’d pointed out in my own response. They’ve fixed that by just reinstating the existing boundary to the north and east of the village. The consequences of that on votes will be pretty negligible. 

Aberdeenshire West (Unchanged)

Angus North and Mearns (Unchanged)

Angus South (Unchanged)

Banffshire and Buchan Coast (Minor) - Key Seat

This picks up the bits lost from Aberdeenshire East – Strichen, New Pitsligo, New Leeds, Fetterangus, but not the north of Longside this time around. It’s also been given its “-shire” back. The current version of the constituency was the second most marginal seat in the country at 2.3%, so even small changes could make a difference. However, these are way too small, so it narrows to 1.9% in 2021 terms but still SNP.

Dundee City East (Unchanged)

Dundee City West (Unchanged)

Regional Impact

No change to constituency winners, no change to region boundaries, no change to MSPs.


Most of the constituencies in South go unchanged, and even if they had, given it starts with the most non-SNP constituencies, changing constituency winners alone wouldn’t be likely to change the total number of seats, as the lists would be more capable of delivering proportionality. This is also one of the regions where there is a degree of uncertainty about what the exact makeup would be, given how messy neighbouring Lothian is.

Ayr (Unchanged)

Remains the most marginal seat in the country at 0.4% SNP over Conservative.

Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Unchanged)

Clydesdale (Unchanged)

In the initial version, Clydesdale was proposed to be split three ways. A little chunk of newbuild housing southwest of East Kilbride was to be given to that seat, the areas around Strathaven, Carluke and Lesmahagow went into a suggested “Larkhall and Clydesdale”, whilst Lanark and the rural south and east went into the proposaed “Clyde Valley and Tweeddale”. That’s all been reverted.

This one takes the bulk of the area of the current Clydesdale, including Lanark, Forth, Biggar, and Abington, plus the bulk of the population of the current Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency. Whilst crossing the South Lanarkshire-Scottish Borders, err, border might seem like a bold move, remember that there’s a UK Parliament constituency similarly covering parts of both Clydesdale and Tweeddale. As a Central Belter through and through it does often boggle my mind that Lanarkshire borders both Glasgow and the Borders, but it does!

In most cases, putting parts of comfortably SNP-held seats together naturally gives you a comfortably SNP-held seat. Not so here, because these components are the most Conservative-friendly parts of their current constituencies. That creates a new, very competitive SNP-Conservative marginal. That margin would likely be even narrower when considering Green votes coming from the Clydesdale side – it was very much the Borders branch of the Greens who wanted to contest the current MSTL seat, so they’d certainly have been on the ballot in this one instead.

Dumfriesshire (Unchanged)

Lothian Eastern (Minor) - Key Seat

In addition to re-ordering the name, the current East Lothian loses Tranent to a proposed “Edinburgh Eastern, Musselburgh and Tranent” constituency, which also takes that area out of the South region. That’s slightly different to the original proposal, which was to give Prestonpans to a redrawn “Midlothian North and Musselburgh”. On current boundaries, this was the third most marginal seat in the country, with the SNP only 2.6% ahead of Labour. Tranent is one of the most strongly Labour areas however, so my estimate here is that removing it boosts the SNP’s margin to 3.9% in 2021 terms.

This is one of the the constituencies that could have be placed in an alternate region for scenario 2, which would be Lothian. Doing so would have an impact on the regional distribution in South.

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Unchanged)

Galloway and West Dumfries(Unchanged)

Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley (Minor)

Loses Stewarton and Dunlop to Cunninghame South, and therefore also to the West region. That’s a slightly smaller loss than in the initial proposals, which had also taken Kilmaurs out too.

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale (Minor)

Loses Newtongrange to a new “Midlothian North”. This is a very minor redrawing compared to what was initially proposed, which was a “Midlothian South” ward covering all of Midlothian bar the Dalkeith ward, whilst the Tweeddale component went into the proposed “Clyde Valley and Tweeddale” seat. That would have been a very tight SNP-Conservative marginal, so expect relief and disappointment respectively if this is what makes it into the final version.

Regional Impact - Scenario 1

As with and as outlined in the Lothian section, the boundaries of the region overall would have to change to accommodate constituency changes here. Scenario 1 is the one that tries to keep regions as close as possible to their current shape. If that was the case, this becomes the only region with any changes to overall seat numbers.

On current boundaries, Labour only scraped the final list seat over the Greens by 115 votes, and even then only because deliberately deceptive far-right front outfit “Independent Green Voice” pulled upwards of 1,600 votes from (mostly) confused voters. The loss of Tranent to the Lothian region takes more than ten times as many Labour votes as Greens out of South (1971 to 185 by my estimate), which allowing for D’Hondt puts the Greens 542 votes ahead of Labour for that final seat.

Regional Impact - Scenario 2

Scenario 2 is to minimise regional crossing of council boundaries, which for the first time is possible for both Mid and East Lothian. My estimate is that Lothian Eastern has a 9% Green share, whereas Midlothian North is an 8% share, so that swap reduces the Green vote share. At the same time, the (regional – not the same as the constituency share above!) Labour share swap is 22.9% out for 25.8% in. That bolsters Labour’s position, leaving the Greens 786 votes adrift.


West ends up being the counterbalance to Lothian. Whereas the population across Lothian has been increasing rapidly, not so much across Renfrewshire in particular. Not only do most constituencies here have changes, but there’s no configuration to my mind that doesn’t lead to a 9 constituency region, down from 10. It also ends up giving a chunk of itself over to Glasgow region, that chunk being a sillier and less sensible one than in the initial proposals, whilst nibbling just a little bit on South.

Clydebank and Milngavie (Unchanged)

Reverts the proposals for a “Bearsden, Milngavie and Clydebank North” that would have gained gained the Bearsden South ward from the current Strathkelvin and Bearsden. It also no longer loses a large portion of the Clydebank Waterfront ward to a redrawn “Dumbarton”.

Cunninghame North (Unchanged)

Cunninghame South (Minor)

Gains the Stewarton and Dunlop area from the current Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley, and consequently from the South region. Doesn’t gain Kilmaurs anymore.

Dumbarton (Unchanged)

Strictly speaking it gains a little bit of the Kilpatrick hills, but that has zero consequences in voting terms. This reverts the original proposals that would have lost the Lomond North area to the redrawn “Argyll and Bute” and thus to Highlands and Islands region, whilst gaining most of the Clydebank Waterfront ward from the current Clydebank and Milngavie. Old Kilpatrick through almost to the town centre. Labour’s superstar survivor Jackie Baillie wouldn’t have been under any threat on the initial proposals anyway, and with no changes to her seat continues to be comfortable.

Eastwood (Minor) - Key Seat

As Conchita Wurst once did, Eastwood has risen like a phoenix. It had been sundered in the initial proposals, Newton Mearns and Eaglesham to “Renfrewshire South”, the Glasgow surburbs around Giffnock and Clarkston to “Glasgow Priesthill and Giffnock.” As I discuss elsewhere in this piece, locals were extremely unhappy with this – including, understandably, local Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw who saw his seat dissolved. Now it’s back, with the only difference being Neilston has been chiselled off the current Renfrewshire South.

That halves Carlaw’s majority from 5.2% to 2.5%, but it’s still a majority. You won, Jackson. Enjoy the constituency. I hope it makes you happy. Dear lord, what a sad little life Jackson. (For anyone with a sense of humour bypass, this is a tongue-in-cheek reference to one of the greatest moments in British television history, not an at all serious go at Jackson Carlaw!) More seriously, this actually has positive democratic consequences, as it prevents one of the SNP overhangs that in the initial proposals had turned 2021 into a notional majority for them.

Inverclyde (Minor)

No changes compared to the initial proposals. The name of the current Greenock and Inverclyde is a bit weird, seeing as it doesn’t cover the whole of Inverclyde council area. This version does, having added Kilmacolm and Quarrier’s Village. 

Paisley (Minor)

The revised proposal here is significantly different to the initial “Paisley and Renfrew”, which had despite the name traded the entire Paisley Northwest ward (covering areas like Castlehead and Ferguslie Park) out in order to incorporate the whole of Renfrew. Instead, it now only loses a small number of residential streets branching off Linwood Road by the retail park, but by still gaining Gallowhill, this is as close as the commission have gotten yet to a Paisley seat that covers all of Paisley. I had suggested they try something roughly like this in my consultation response, but I hadn’t anticipated a knock-on from Eastwood dissatisfaction would be that Renfrew would be absorbed into that atrocious Erskine and Cardonald seat.

Renfrewshire West (New)

Despite the name, in population terms this is actually the successor to the current Renfrewshire South. In the initial suggestions, that seat would would have gained Newton Mearns and Eaglesham from Eastwood whilst losing Elderslie, Linwood, and a large part of Crosslee to a Renfrewshire West that also contained Erskine. As those areas are now in seats described earlier, the remaining portion has been smushed together into this seat, which also loses Neilston to the resurrected Eastwood.

Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Unchanged)

Reverts the proposals for a “Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth” that would have given up the south of Bearsden to the proposed “Bearsden, Milngavie and Clydebank” seat, whilst gaining Kilsyth from the current Cumbernauld and Kilsyth. That means the seat continues to actually only include half of Bearsden. Dare I suggest “Strathkelvin and Bearsden South” as a new name, despite no change in boundaries?

Regional Impact - Scenario 1

Again, this is one where the boundaries of the region overall would have to change to accommodate constituency changes here. Whereas the initial proposals would have had to bring in either Kilsyth or, more dramatically, Kilmarnock, this time around the only bits added are Stewarton and Dunlop, whilst it loses Erskine and Renfrew to Glasgow. That’s enough of a change that it allows the Conservatives to narrowly take second place in votes, though it has no impact on the overall seat distribution.

Notional National Result

Regardless of scenario, my estimate is that these boundary changes gives the same number of seats.

Whereas the initial proposals had split two non-SNP constituencies clean down the middle and given them a path to an unearned, overhang-centred majority, the near-restoration of those two seats puts the SNP back to the same tally as they actually won. Whether there is any change at all versus the current boundaries depends on which regional scenario applies, which either takes a seat from Labour and gives it to the Greens, or preserves the status quo.

Remember of course that working out notionals is not an exact art, and that parties will operate slightly differently on different boundaries! As with the initial proposals, I haven’t done a notional for every seat just yet as that would be incredibly time consuming and the final versions could change yet again. I will however work those out when we do have final, signed off boundaries.

Responding to the Consultation

You can respond to the consultation on Boundaries Scotland’s website here. Remember that the least useful, most absolutely pointless thing you can do is send unconstructive complaints or abuse to the commission. That helps nobody, least of all you or other people in the area you’re unhappy about. If you think there is something wrong, suggest a viable alternative – viable being the key word! Suggesting they remove a few hundred voters so they can add thousands more isn’t going to stack up. You have until the 15th of Mayto respond

Due to my own delay in getting this piece together, I won’t have as nice a response to share here on the website as I did last time, and will just be putting in a brief, hurried one – whoops!

If you find this or other Ballot Box Scotland output useful and/or interesting, and you can afford to do so, please consider donating to support my work. I love doing this, but it’s a one-man project and takes a lot of time and effort. All donations, no matter how small, are greatly appreciated and extremely helpful.
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