Election Constituency profile: Edinburgh South

The Meadows feature in Edinburgh South.

The Meadows feature in Edinburgh South.

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IAN Murray has Labour’s smallest majority in Scotland – but if the predicted SNP tidal wave subsides before polling day, he could have a better chance of being re-elected than many of his party colleagues across Scotland.

His main challengers last time were the Lib Dems, who came within 316 votes of taking the seat, while the SNP was firmly in fourth place. No-one expects a similar result this time – but it is hard to tell how the votes will split.

The SNP won the equivalent seat at the 2011 Holyrood election, but the Yes vote in Edinburgh South in last year’s independence referendum was only 35 per cent.

Mr Murray says he is fighting the campaign door to door, street to street, but adds the contest is more about the past five years when he has represented the constituency rather than the five-week run-up to May 7.

He says: “We’re campaigning on two things – my reputation as a hard-working local MP who gets things done and Labour’s manifesto, which looks after all the big issues people have been talking to us about on the doorstep, including the next generation, low pay, affordable housing.”

And he says he is getting a positive response. “People go into the polling booth knowing in their own mind what kind of conclusion they want from the election and the feedback we’re getting from the people on the doorstep is they want to keep me as their local MP because they know I work really hard to stand up for the people I represent.”

SNP challenger Neil Hay claims his party is making significant gains in traditional Labour areas while the non-SNP vote in other parts of the constituency is split “fairly evenly” between the other parties.

He says: “A lot of previous Lib Dem voters came over to the SNP at the Holyrood elections in 2011 and we’re pretty confident we’re not losing votes.

“One of the biggest things on the doorstep is the sheer number of people who feel they cannot trust Labour.”

Conservative candidate Miles Briggs is claiming the election is a two-horse race between him and the SNP. “Both the Labour and the Lib Dem vote is collapsing,” he says. “What I’m saying on the doorstep is ‘If Labour’s traditional supporters are not voting Labour, why should anyone else?”

There is a large student population in the constituency and Green candidate Phyl Meyer is expecting that to boost his vote.

“Sometimes people ask why we’re standing because they think the election is all about the SNP and Labour, but we want to offer people an alternative to casino capitalism and austerity, while not forgetting climate change.”

Lib Dem Pramod Subarraman claims there is a “strong Liberal core” in the constituency. “I’m confident we will hold onto 60 per cent of the vote we got in 2010, which is about 9000 votes and I just need to build on that.”

He admits voters do complain to him about the coalition and the Lib Dems’ support for increasing tuition fees. But he says: “People are still getting used to coalitions. In coalitions there is give and take. Tuition fees was one Conservative policy we were not able to block.”

And he says he gets a good response from students to at least two of the Lib Dems’ policies this time – cracking down on unpaid internships and reinstating post-study work visas, which allowed overseas graduates to seek employment in the UK but were scrapped by the coalition.

Scottish Socialist candidate Colin Fox points out the constituency includes the large housing estates of Moredun, Gracemount and Burdiehouse as well as plusher areas like Morningside and The Grange.

“Tens of thousands of people in Edinburgh South are struggling to get by on poverty wages or zero-hours contracts in working conditions their grandparents wouldn’t have put up with.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com