DavidL looks at the prospects and the betting
In 2010 Scottish politics look set in some Jurassic age. Not a seat changed hands. Scottish Labour dinosaurs ruled the roost and played on the national stage. In 2015, post referendum, the asteroid struck; an astonishing SNP tsunami, whose power was foreseen by few except Alastair Meeks, swept the SNP to a stunning 56 seats. The old Labour dominance was destroyed forever. What does 2017 hold for us?
We have a few clues. Into the vacuum created by the implosion of SLAB came Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories. They finished a creditable second in the Holyrood elections in 2016 depriving Nicola of her majority. They repeated the trick on 4th May taking second place again in the local elections from a Labour party that did not quite implode the way people had been predicting. But FPTP is a sterner test. The SNP remain the dominant party in Scotland vulnerable at the margins but certain to win the vast majority of the Scottish seats.
Where, at the fringes, are they vulnerable? Probably at the fringes of Scotland. The 3 border seats look very likely to go to the Tories. Orkney and Shetland looks nailed on for the Lib Dems with reasonable prospects in Charlie Kennedy’s old seat of Ross, Cromarty and Skye and Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross. The Liberal Democrats are 7/4 in the former and 11/10 with Ladbrokes in the latter, both quite attractive to my mind and a better bet than the favoured East Dunbartonshire where Jo Swinson starts off more than 2,000 behind and yet is favourite or Edinburgh West where the Lib Dems start more than 3,000 behind and yet are 2/5.
Beyond this the sheer scale of the SNP tsunami in 2015 daunts. What should have been marginal seats have huge majorities. In Perth and North Perthshire, for example, the Tories are odds on with Ladbrokes but Pete Wishart sits on a majority of 9,641. This seems an extremely unattractive bet for me at those odds. West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine looks very good for the Tories but 1/7? East Renfrewshire requires the Tories to come from a fairly distant third but again they are odds on. It demonstrates another problem in Scotland with the Unionist vote split between the competing parties. My expectation is that in several cases, notably in Edinburgh, this will result in the SNP coming through the middle and holding on. Bet365 has the SNP at 5/6 for more than 46.5 seats. Much though it pains me that looks a buy to me. My guess is that the Tories will get 6 plus some close seconds, Labour maybe 2 (Edinburgh South and East Lothian being the most likely) and the Lib Dems 3 leaving the SNP on 48. I’d love to be wrong.
DavidL is a long-standing poster on PB