Could Alex Salmond repel as many voters as he attracts in Gordon?
The news that the former first minister of Scotland is standing as a candidate in the general election was not unexpected. Neither was the constituency of Gordon a surprise. It covers some of the same area as Alex Salmond’s Scottish parliamentary seat of Aberdeenshire East, and he has always said he would continue as an MSP if he is elected as an MP.
Gordon is also the best chance of the SNP taking a seat from the Liberal Democrats. The party came second in 2010, 6,748 votes behind Sir Malcolm Bruce:
A swing of 6.9% is needed for the constituency to change hands – a task that undoubtedly became easier the moment Bruce announced he was not standing for re-election.
Instead the Lib Dem candidate is Christine Jardine: a journalist and lecturer, who used to work for BBC Scotland in Aberdeen. She was selected almost a year ago, and has therefore had plenty of time to get her face known around the constituency and build the foundations of her campaign.
But only now does she know the identity of her SNP opponent. I’m sure anybody would feel a little apprehensive taking on the most formidable political tactician in the UK. Salmond will undoubtedly be the favourite to take the seat, and media interest in the contest is bound to be high – as are the stakes. The outcome will be one that has real consequences on the shape of the next parliament, because both challengers represent parties that could end up playing kingmaker of a new coalition.
I have one reservation about stating with certainty that Salmond will win. He is unarguably a very high-profile individual – but he also has an equally divisive personality. May he end up repelling as many voters as he attracts? If so, the result in Gordon may prove to be a lot closer than had the SNP fielded a far less prominent candidate.