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Selection Box: SNP List Rankings


Well, this is one of the key moments of the long campaign: the SNP have published their rankings for next year.


1. Alex Neil MSP
2. Michael Matheson MSP (Falkirk West)
3. Jamie Hepburn MSP
4. Linda Fabiani MSP
5. Cllr Richard Lyle
6. Christina McKelvie MSP
7. Cllr Angus MacDonald
8. John Wilson MSP
9. Clare Adamson

Under the new boundaries, the SNP will be defending five seats, and currently hold one constituency, Falkirk West, so with Matheson discounted as an incumbent constituency MSP, Alex Neil, Jamie Hepburn and Linda Fabiani would hope to be re-elected, with Richard Lyle, Leader of the SNP Group on North Lanarkshire Council, most likely joining them barring either a major calamity or a massive Constituency advance. If the SNP can hold on to what they have, Christina McKelvie’s back in as well. If the SNP can make an advance, then there is the possibility of Angus MacDonald, a Falkirk Councillor, joining them (this is a possibility if Alex Neil can win Airdrie and Shotts and the SNP retain their five list seats). John Wilson looks to be in serious trouble.


1. Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Glasgow Govan, to be re-named Glasgow Southside)
2. Humza Yousaf
3. Bob Doris MSP
4. Sandra White MSP
5. Sid Khan
6. Cllr James Dornan
7. Bill Kidd MSP
8. Anne McLaughlin MSP
9. Chris Stephens
10. Jim McGuigan
11. Mags Park

Assuming a status quo of four Regional seats (remember on my notional seat calculations, I project that Glasgow Southside is an SNP marginal), Humza Yousaf will be elected, along with sitting MSPs Bob Doris and Sandra White, and new candidate (though long-standing supporter) Sid Khan will probably get in as well except on a bad night for the SNP. On a good night, James Dornan might also be elected, particularly if Sandra White manages to win Glasgow Kelvin on her fourth attempt. But unless something stellar happens, or the two manage to win Glasgow Anniesland and Glasgow Provan respectively, it’s goodbye to Bill Kidd (who displaced Kenneth Gibson on the 2003 List, but still wasn’t elected as the SNP lost not one but two seats) and Anne McLaughlin.


1. Fergus Ewing MSP (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, to be renamed Inverness and Nairn)
2. Michael Russell MSP (South of Scotland, standing in Argyll & Bute)
3. Dave Thompson MSP
4. Rob Gibson MSP
5. Cllr John Finnie
6. Jean Urquhart
7. Mike MacKenzie
8. Mhairi Will
9. Drew Hendry
10. Richard Laird
11. Bren Gormley

Firstly, you’ll notice that incumbent Constituency MSPs Richard Lochhead (Moray) and Alasdair Allan (Western Isles, to be renamed Na h-Eileanan an Iar) did not go forward for ranking, but that Mike Russell, who’s moving north, has attained a decent position but will be defending Argyll & Bute. This ranking means it’s all but certain that Russell will be re-elected, along with Thompson (who’s in contention in Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch). Rob Gibson should be OK if the SNP defends what it has, and an advance would see John Finnie (who stood against Danny Alexander in May) elected as well.


1. Kenny MacAskill MSP (Edinburgh East & Musselburgh, to be renamed Edinburgh Eastern)
2. Fiona Hyslop MSP
3. Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP
4. Angela Constance MSP (Livingston, to be re-named Almond Valley)
5. George Kerevan
6. Colin Beattie
7. Alex Orr
8. Bill Wilson MSP (West of Scotland)
9. Gordon MacDonald
10. Calum Cashley
11. Jim Eadie
12. Alasdair Rankin
13. Colin Keir

I should explain that on this list, the SNP have more candidates than they’re strictly allowed: only twelve can appear on the formal ranking so it will require either a dropout or an unfortunate accident for Colin Keir to be a formal List candidate. However, he is standing in Edinburgh Western so will make it to a ballot paper regardless. Barring Wilson’s dismal showing, which comes despite his insistence that he’s an Edinburgh man, it’s a good result for incumbents, though that might have been made easier by Ian McKee’s decision to retire. A night on a par with 2007 would therefore see George Kerevan (yes, he of the Scotsman and Edinburgh East candidate in May) elected. It would take an electoral calamity of 2003-esque proportions for any of the sitting local MSPs not to be elected and an advance would see Colin Beattie in.


1. John Swinney MSP (North Tayside, will stand in redrawn Perthshire North)
2. Bruce Crawford MSP (Stirling)
3. Roseanna Cunningham MSP (Perth, to be renamed Perthshire South and Kinross-shire)
4. Annabelle Ewing
5. Keith Brown MSP (Ochil, to be renamed Clackmannanshire and Dunblane)
6. Cllr Douglas Chapman
7. Bill Walker
8. Ewan Dow
9. John Beare
10. Rod Campbell
11. Alison Lindsay
12. David Torrance
13. Douglas Thomson
14. Ian Chisholm
15. George Kay

Assuming the status quo (all constituencies including Stirling and Clackmannanshire & Dunblane to be returned SNP) and one Regional seat, it looks like a return to Parliamentary politics for former MP for Perth Annabelle Ewing. Ewing, of course, succeeded Roseanna Cunningham as MP for Perth in 2001 (after having come close in the 1999 Hamilton South By-Election), only to stand and lose in Ochil & South Perthsire in 2005 and in May. In the meantime, her attempts to succeed Margaret Ewing as MSP for Moray came to nothing when Richard Lochhead was selected ahead of her, though she did step into the breach as SNP candidate in Falkirk East after the death of Douglas Henderson, only for Cathy Peattie to hold the seat for Labour. I suspect there’s a not insignificant body of opinion which considers Winnie Ewing’s daughter to be cursed, but if that viewpoint seems not to hold much sway in Mid Scotland and Fife. Indeed, unless the SNP have a horrendous night it looks like she’s going to get elected and Keith Brown is under potential pressure should there be a reverse. In the case of an advance, it’s Douglas Chapman who will benefit.


1. Alex Salmond MSP (Gordon, to be renamed Aberdeenshire East)
2. Brian Adam MSP (Aberdeen North, to be renamed Aberdeen Donside)
3. Nigel Don MSP (standing in SNP notional Angus North & Mearns)
4. Maureen Watt MSP
5. Cllr Mark McDonald
6. Christian Allard
7. Dennis Robertson

Again, a good result for the incumbents, probably assisted by Andrew Welsh’s retirement and the decision of three incumbent Constituency MSPs (Joe FitzPatrick, Shona Robison and Stewart Stevenson) to seek a List ranking, along with the SNP candidate in Angus South, Graeme Day, so the field was narrowed here. Of course, the boundary changes mean that instead of defending six constituencies and two regional seats, the SNP are defending seven constituencies and one regional seat, but as Nigel Don is standing in constituency number seven, an ugly situation has been averted. Maureen Watt, however, may enjoy a Quasi-Incumbent Bonus in Aberdeen South & North Kincardine, given Nicol Stephen’s announcement that he will not be standing next year. Nevertheless, Watt’s position is contingent on the SNP at least holding what it has, while an advance would most likely see any potential List gains cancelled out by gaining Aberdeen Central, so unless Mark is the candidate there, his way into Holyrood consists of either a massive landslide on the list, or some sort of electoral apocalypse in Dundee.


1. Christine Grahame MSP (standing in SNP notional Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale)
2. Aileen Campbell MSP
3. Adam Ingram MSP
4. Joan McAlpine
5. Aileen McLeod
6. Paul Wheelhouse
7. Chic Brodie
8. Dave Berry
9. Aileen Orr

This could have been an ugly list, as the transfer of the newly-renamed Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley seat into the region with Labour-held Cunninghame South heading out meant that the SNP had six incumbent parliamentarians defending a total of five seats in the region. However, Willie Coffey’s decision not to go forward for ranking (he didn’t go forward in 2007 either), along with Mike Russell’s decampment to Argyll & Bute and Alasdair Morgan’s retirement, took the pressure off, and now it’s likely that a new face is possible. With Christine Grahame now notionally defending an SNP constituency, a status quo result for the party would see Aileen Campell and Adam Ingram re-elected, with pro-independence commentator and blogger Joan McAlpine joining them. Indeed, it would take an ugly, ugly night (or the SNP in reverse everywhere except Kilmarnock) for the top four not to get in one way or another. A good night might also see Aileen McLeod, who was third on the Euro Election List last year, elected as well.


1. Stewart Maxwell MSP
2. Kenneth Gibson MSP (Cunninghame North)
3. Cllr Derek MacKay
4. Gil Paterson MSP
5. Fiona McLeod
6. Stuart McMillan MSP
7. Osama Saeed
8. Andy Doig
9. Iain Robertson
10. Iain White
11. Ronnie McColl

Of course, Bill Wilson’s attempt to decamp eastwards probably eased matters here, but there’s still a sense of blood on the carpet, particularly for Stuart McMillan, who now requires an SNP advance to get back into Holyrood next year. Derek MacKay is Leader of Renfrewshire Council (and will be all but certain to join Maxwell and Gibson) and Fiona McLeod was an MSP for the West from 1999 to 2003 when she was caught up in the infamous 2003 selection rows, so it’s perhaps poetic justice that she might return in the way she left (though that’s of no consolation to Stuart McMillan, who was not one of the candidates to unseat her back then, and indeed, only one of those three made it to 2007, so for the West, this list is a sign of unusual stability). It would take a massively bad night (or a number of constituency gains) for the Top 4 not to get in by some means, and a defend of the status quo would see McLeod come back in.

So what does all this mean? Obviously, one can’t help but be struck by the number of de facto de-selections: John Wilson is in trouble, as are Bill Kidd and Anne McLaughlin, while Stuart McMillan requires an SNP gain to return to Holyrood and Bill Wilson’s attempt to move east has been thwarted. Indeed, it’s so jarring that already comparisons have been made with the 2003 selection process.

But was that all that bad?

In retrospect, I don’t think it was. If you look at the seats won in 1999, then the lists produced in 2003, there were only three effective deselections: Margo MacDonald (fifth in the Lothians), Irene McGugan (seventh in the North East, and she had been selected for Dundee West where the SNP were attempting to overturn a Labour majority of just 121) and the aforementioned Fiona McLeod (seventh in the West). The more high profile names often cited weren’t actually deselected: yes, Andrew Wilson was fifth on the Central Scotland list, but fifth had been high enough in 1999 (it was the rise of the SSP and SSCUP that thwarted him); yes, Kenneth Gibson was fourth in Glasgow, but again, fourth had been high enough in 1999 (it was the SSP and Green advance that undid him); and yes, Mike Russell was fourth on the South of Scotland list, but the top 4 candidates had all won seats one way or another in 1999 (again, the SSP and Greens did for him). Those three were de-elected, not de-selected. A fourth deselection, Lloyd Quinan, was more a reflection of a move eastwards, where he didn’t have the support (see Bill Wilson).

Even on the West of Scotland List, where the none of the SNP MSPs elected in 1999 were re-elected in 2003 and an entirely new slate emerged: there was only one de-selection – that of McLeod. Colin Campbell and Kay Ullrich were retiring, and Lloyd Quinan was providing an early template for Bill Wilson to follow, though did end up standing against Jack McConnell in Motherwell & Wishaw.

So this, numerically speaking, is a larger convulsion: four effective de-selections (though McMillan can recover his position on a good night) to three with one failed transfer.

But there are trends. Barring Bill Wilson’s position (and Mike Russell’s transfer), a total of eight candidates have overtaken incumbents this time. Remember that in 2007, Bashir Ahmad made the breakthrough, coming second on the Glasgow List. One could argue that this wasn’t just his breakthrough, but one for the whole Asian community and his passing has led to a new generation of more (to say nothing of more active) young Asians engaging with and emerging within the SNP, particularly in Glasgow. As one of the more prominent members within that group, Humza Yousaf was always going to benefit from that position and gain a good ranking. It’s also possible that Sid Khan benefited from this too, but he was also one of the 100 businessmen to sign a letter in support of the SNP in the run-up to the 2007 Election, so he would have a business community backing as well. That possibly accounts for two of the eight.

Annabelle Ewing has, of course, been a figure in SNP politics for years, while even after the blow of 2003, Fiona McLeod has never been far away from the action. That’s another two.

But what about the other four? In their cases, I’ve been careful to mark their titles, more careful than in others: Cllr Richard Lyle, Leader of the Opposition on North Lanarkshire Council; Cllr Angus MacDonald, Falkirk Councillor, Cllr James Dornan, Leader of the Opposition on Glasgow City Council (and would have been SNP Candidate in the Glasgow North East By-Election, remember) and Cllr Derek MacKay, Leader of Renfrewshire Council. All prominent in their local areas.

Think about it: STV for local Councils brought more SNP Councillors, in more powerful positions, but up to now, we’ve always focused on how the SNP is more powerful on Councils. Now, for the first time, we’re seeing a demonstration of how Councillors are more powerful within the SNP. If I’m right, this could be a long-standing change to the way the SNP does things. Add to that the three Councillors who just missed out on a key slot: Messrs Finnie, Chapman and McDonald. The conclusion is clear: Council power may just be becoming a reality in the SNP


From → Politics

  1. Andreap82 permalink

    “Nevertheless, Watt’s position is contingent on the SNP at least holding what it has”

    If SNP go down enough to lose Dundee West, will they likely hold the list seat even with their list % down? If so, Watt can get in.

    MSPs in marginal (oh well, “not safe”) constituencies who are not standing on the list are: Joe FitzPatrick (Dundee W), Willie Coffey (Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley) and Tricia Marwick (Mid Fife and Glenrothes). Anyone else?

    Btw, did you see that Lib Dems also released their regional rankings last week? I’ve seen some positions mentioned in the press but their website doesn’t seem to have published them.

    • Andrea, I just ran a simulation of an SNP-Lab swing that would take out Dundee West (3.92%) on both Constituency and the List – it would have Watt keeping her seat, but making no gains, and Labour holding onto their two seats (I get Labour winning Aberdeen Central so while Denver has three Labour regional seats, I have Labour getting one constituency and two regional). You could also add Alasdair Allan to that list.

      I saw much the same, I think everyone’s spotted the hoo-ha over the LibDem Glasgow List, but it would be nice to get formal confirmation. As it happens, I think the Tories’ website is the best for this (full candidate list, barring the odd blooper – turns out Margaret Mitchell has been selected for Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse after all), we have a press release for the regional candidates from the SNP, but nothing on the HQ website about the constituencies, a press release from the Greens and nothing formal from either Labour or the LibDems…

  2. Andreap82 permalink

    Thanks for the North East simulation.

    Ah, yes, Alasdair Allan. I was already giving the Western Isles to SNP 😉

    On the LD rankings, I found the full Mid Scotland & Fife list on a LD Perth blog (Willie Rennie is topping it).

    I agree that the Tories have the most informative website on this subject.
    I think Labour are currently running the list ranking contests, but their lists aren’t usually so interesting with the exception of 2-3 regions.

  3. Well, mathematically, the Isles definitely ain’t safe, especially as swings tend to be intensified there on account of the smaller electorate… Thanks for flagging up the LibDem list, too – no surprise to see Willie Rennie topping the list. What is interesting though is that if you read through it, Jim Tolson was due at the Regional hustings as a candidate, but wasn’t listed in the results. I wonder what happened there?

    • Andreap82 permalink

      Yes, it’s an intriguing situation. When I read the hustings post, I thought the battle for top spot was between Rennie and Tolson. Then when I saw the list, there was no Tolson at all.

      I also wondered what would be better for Labour list Mid Scotland & Fife MSPs. The region have lots of marginal constituencies. If Labour do well, some of them will lose their seats. I wondered if some would have gambled and stood in a target

      • I’m sure I read somewhere that John Park is standing in Dunfermline – no formal confirmation of that though…

  4. Andreap82 permalink

    That’s interesting. He’s certainly seeking reselection on the list too (he has a facebook page for his list ranking campaign). Has Labour relaxed their double candidacy ban? I also see David Stewart is standing in Inverness and Nairns (certainly not a seat you would trade your list seat for). Maybe they are allowed to stand in both sections just if they choose a not Lab held constituency?
    Sorry for having diverged from the main topic (SNP lists).

  5. Meh, it’s good to widen the discussion – though I’m not sure what the state of play is with the Labour rules. Clearly there has been some sort of relaxation, though I can’t say for sure if it’s now a LibDem/SNP-style free-for-all, if it just applies to sitting List MSPs (Peter Peacock, Maureen Macmillan and Rhoda Grant all stood in constituencies in 2003), or if there is a continued ban on sitting Constituency MSPs going on the List as well. I guess it’ll all become clear at the candidate lists emerge…

    • Andreap82 permalink

      I read on the Edinburgh Evening News that Sarah Boyack, Elaine Murray and Lewis Macdonald had been allowed by the party executive committee to run also in the list section.
      I guess the reason is that their constitunecies aren’t notionally Labour (using Denver).

  6. I spotted that too… as it happens, the various changes in South grant Labour one Regional seat minimum, and two if you use Denver’s raw data, while Marlyn Glen is to stand down in the North East so that frees up a Regional seat for Labour there even before you factor in the compensatory seat Labour pick up for losing Aberdeen Central.

    • Andreap82 permalink

      Basically Boyack, Murray and Macdonald would be 99.9999% sure to be re-elected (assuming they will get one of the top spots in the list).
      If Labour don’t win Dumfriesshire, are they likely to pick up 2 list seats in South also on your estimations (assuming they don’t gain Kilmarnock back)? So there’s hope for another candidate other than Murray.
      As you said, also in NE there’s room for a new Labour candidate to be elected with Glen retiring.
      If Boyack lose in Central and SNP hold Almond Valley and Ed East, is Labour likely to have just 1 list seat in the Lothians?Lothians list guesses are actually more difficult because of Margo’s presence.

  7. Andreap82 permalink

    SNP website now has the full list of constituencies’ candidates.

    As for other parties, a LD activist published the top spots of their regional lists on vote 2007 forum and there weren’t any more surprises other than Brown in Glasgow. McInnes is ahead of Rumbles in North East but they should both get in one way or the other. McInness is also standing against Salmond in Aberdeenshire East.
    Labour lists are ready but I think they will be officially released only once the Scottish Executive Committe will approve them. From twitter I gather some info, mostly in “useless” regions (for ex top of West of Scotland and Glasgow lists). In the Lothians it’s Sarah Boyack MSP followed by Kezia Dugdale.

  8. Sterling work as always, Andrea – I’m a little bit surprised that Rumbles came second in the North East, I’m also staggered that Jeremy Purvis appears not to be seeking the List option given the unfavourable boundary changes. Obviously, Robert Brown’s a shocker, but it seems that there’s going to be a very different slate of Regional MSPs in Glasgow come next May what with Bill Aitken standing down, and Robert Brown, Bill Kidd and Anne McLaughlin pushed down their respective lists. Four new faces…

    Also, I see Ruth Davidson’s got the nod for the Tories in Glasgow Kelvin – at least she won’t call the voters ‘thick’ – so it’s probably between her and David Meikle for top spot on the Tory list.

    • Andreap82 permalink

      Labour Scottish Executive Committee member Victoria Jamieson announced the following lists via twitter:

      Mid Scotland & Fife

      1 John Park MSP
      2 Claire Baker MSP
      3 Richard Simpon MSP
      4 Jayne Baxter
      5 Tom Adams
      6 Kainde Manji
      7 Rob Ball

      Central Scotland

      1 Siobhan McMahon
      2 Mark Griffin
      3 Margaret McCulloch
      4 Paul Kelly
      5 Jean Jones
      6 Kevin Mallon
      7 Martin Murra

      North East Scotland

      1 Richard Baker MSP
      2 Jenny Marra
      3 Lewis MacDonald MSP
      4 Lesley McMahon
      5 Greg Williams
      6 Jean Morrison
      7 Kevin Hutchens


      1 Sarah Boyack MSP
      2 Kezia Dugdale
      3 Neil Findlay
      4 Ann Henderson
      5 Jalal Chaudry
      6 Simon MacFadyen
      7 James Ashe

      West of Scotland

      1 Mary Fee
      2 Neil Bibby
      3 Margaret McDougall
      4 Gordon McKay
      5 Manjinder Shergill
      6 Linda Millar
      7 Sam Mullin


      1 Hanzala Malik
      2 Drew Smith
      3 Anne McTaggart
      4 Richard Tullet
      5 Anna Dyer
      6 Brian Boag
      7 Carla McCormack

      Highlands and South Scotland?? I don’t know if she hasn’t mentioned them simply because she has something else to do or because they have been delayed.

      She also mentions that there was a rule allowing first vacancy always going to the highest polling woman or BAME candidate.

  9. I hope the SNP will win most seats in the
    Scottish Parliament. I support the AV vote.
    I also support PR for House of Commons.

  10. I hope Sandra White loeses her list seat, The
    SNP have put her number 4 on the List.
    Forexample if Labour Party do very well in
    Glasgow and win all first past the post seats.
    The SNP could lose Glasgow southside to Labour.
    The Greens cound win 2 List seats socialists
    left wing win one list seat.

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