Ayr (Scottish Parliament constituency)

Ayr is a burgh constituency of the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) which elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) via the plurality (first past the post) electoral system. It is also one of nine constituencies in the South Scotland electoral region which elects seven additional members to the Scottish Parliament via a proportional electoral system known as the Additional Members System (abbreviated AMS) which allows for greater accuracy in representation for the region as a whole.

burgh constituency
for the Scottish Parliament
Ayr shown within the South Scotland electoral region and the region shown within Scotland
Population76,620 (2012)[1]
Electorate59,233 (2015)[2]
Current constituency
MSPJohn Scott
Council areaSouth Ayrshire

Electoral region

The other eight constituencies of the South Scotland region are Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley; Clydesdale; Dumfriesshire; East Lothian; Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire; Galloway and West Dumfries; Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley and Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale. The region covers the Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire, Scottish Borders and South Ayrshire council areas in full and elements of the East Lothian, Midlothian and South Lanarkshire council areas.

Constituency boundaries and council area


The Ayr constituency was created at the same time as the Scottish Parliament, in 1999, following the same boundaries as the existing Ayr constituency at Westminster. In 2005 however most UK Parliamentary constituencies in Scotland were replaced with new constituencies, with the Ayr constituency being abolished and replaced by the Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock and Central Ayrshire constituencies.[3] This had no impact on the boundaries of the Ayr constituency in the Scottish Parliament which used the old Westminster boundaries during the 2007 election to the Scottish Parliament.

The constituency covered the 1995 South Ayrshire electoral wards of:

The remaining section of South Ayrshire was covered by the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency.


Following the First Periodic Review of Scottish Parliament Boundaries in time for the 2011 Scottish Parliament election the Boundary Commission for Scotland recommended alterations to the existing Ayr constituency which were then implemented and used at the 2011 and 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections. These boundaries remain in place today and will be used at the next election to the Scottish Parliament.

The review suggested that the Ayr constituency takes in the electoral wards of:

  • Troon, Prestwick, Ayr North, Ayr East and Ayr West, covering the towns of Ayr, Prestwick and Troon.

All remaining wards in South Ayrshire form part of the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency.

Constituency profile and voting patterns

Constituency profile

Ayr is a burgh constituency of the Scottish Parliament covering the adjoining coastal towns of Ayr, Prestwick and Troon in north-west South Ayrshire. The constituency is a popular coastal resort on Scotland's west coast. The town of Ayr serves as the administrative centre of the South Ayrshire Council area and is the most populated section of the constituency. The town annually hosts the Scottish Grand National horse-racing steeplechase and the Scottish Airshow. Towards the south of the town is Robert Burns Cottage in the suburb of Alloway. In Prestwick and Troon, the exclusive Royal Troon and Prestwick Golf Clubs regularly host the British Open Championship. The seat also takes in Glasgow Prestwick International Airport.

The constituency covers a diverse and muddled mix of wealthy middle class suburbs and deprived council estates, divided between suburban housing based around parts of Prestwick, Troon and the south of Ayr and social housing based around the industrial north of Ayr. Although the constituency is prosperous, it is also littered with pockets of deprivation, with data derived from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation indicating that 27% of the seat's populous reside in the 30% most deprived data zones in Scotland whilst 42% reside in the 30% most affluent data zones in Scotland.[5] Demographically, the constituency has a high percentage of elderly voters, Church of Scotland Protestants and home-owners, with a higher percentage of outright home-owners compared to the national average. According to census data, 30% of the seat's population are aged 60 and over (compared to the Scottish national figure of 23%), 43% of residents are Church of Scotland Protestant (over 10% greater than the Scottish average)[6] and 64% reside in owned "whole houses or bungalows", with 26% residing in owned outright "whole houses or bungalows" (comparing to the Scottish national figures of 54% and 20% respectively).[7][7] Government statistics from 2014 also indicate that an above-average proportion of properties in the constituency are in council tax bands D to H, with 35% in bands D to E compared to the Scottish average of 26%, and 17% in council tax bands F to H compared to the national average of 13%.[8] At the 2011 census the unemployment rate in the constituency was registered as 4.9%, the same as the Scottish national average.[6]

Voting patterns

Historically the Ayr seat has held a higher level of support for the Conservative Party in comparison to elsewhere in Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole. The equivalent Westminster constituency of Ayr was gained by the Conservative Party at its creation in 1950. In subsequent elections the seat went on to return Conservative MP's to Parliament until the 1997 UK general election, when the boundaries of the constituency were altered in a move involving the transfer of a number of Conservative-voting suburbs towards the south of Ayr to the adjoining Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency, which subsequently altered the demographics of the Ayr constituency - benefiting the Labour Party. In spite of this, at the 1997 election the Ayr seat returned one of the smallest pro-Labour swings in Great Britain at just over 5%.[9] Prior to this the Ayr Burghs constituency (which incorporated a number of towns in coastal Ayrshire including Irvine, Troon, Prestwick, Ayr, Saltcoats and Ardrossan) continuously returned Conservative MP's to Parliament from 1906 until it's abolishment in 1950, making Ayr the longest seat to be held continuously by the Conservatives in Scotland (continuously having a Conservative MP at Westminster for 91 years). Ayr has been represented by a Conservative MP or MSP for a total of approximately 122 years - the longest of any constituency in Scotland.

Until the late 2000s the Labour Party held a significant level of support across the Ayr constituency and were able to win the constituency by 25 votes at the 1999 Scottish Parliamentary election as a consequence of a high turnout and the constituency's boundaries, which excluded various Conservative-voting suburbs in southern Ayr (including Alloway, Doonfoot, Masonhill, Holmston and Castlehill). Labour's decline in support in the Scottish Parliament coupled with a lower turnout allowed for the Conservatives to secure the constituency comfortably at the 2000 Ayr by-election following the resignation of Ayr's first MSP, Ian Welsh. The by-election was the first by-election of the Scottish Parliament, making Ayr the first Scottish Conservative constituency seat in the Scottish Parliament (who won no constituency seats at the 1999 Scottish Parliament election). The Conservatives went on to hold the constituency at the 2003 and 2007 Scottish Parliament elections, despite marginally missing out in the Westminster seat of Ayr to the Labour Party at the 2001 UK general election. In 2011 the constituency boundaries were altered, with the electoral ward of Kyle being transferred to the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency. At the same time the remaining portion of the town of Ayr covered by the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency was transferred over to the Ayr constituency. The Ayr constituency went on to return Conservative MSP John Scott to Parliament with a reduced majority at the 2011 and 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. At the 2017 UK general election, Conservative candidate Bill Grant gained the overlapping Westminster constituency of Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock from the SNP with a majority of 2,774 votes (6.0%).

Members of the Scottish Parliament

At the 1999 Scottish Parliament election, Labour's Ian Welsh became Ayr's first constituency MSP at Holyrood, winning the constituency with a majority of 25 votes ahead of former Ayr MP Phil Gallie. The constituency went on to elect Conservative John Scott to Parliament in a subsequent by-election held in 2000. John Scott has held the position of constituency MSP for Ayr since.

1999 Ian Welsh Scottish Labour Party
2000 John Scott Scottish Conservative Party

Election results


2016 Scottish Parliament election: Ayr[10][11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Scott 16,183 43.0 +4.1
SNP Jennifer Dunn 15,433 41.0 +5.4
Labour Brian McGinley 5,283 14.0 -9.3
Liberal Democrats Robbie Simpson 716 1.9 -0.2
Turnout 37,750 -1.3
Majority 750 2.0 -1.3
Conservative hold Swing


2011 Scottish Parliament election: Ayr[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Scott 12,997 38.9 N/A
SNP Chic Brodie 11,884 35.6 N/A
Labour Gordon McKenzie 7,779 23.3 N/A
Liberal Democrats Eileen Taylor 713 2.1 N/A
Turnout 33,468 N/A
Majority 1,113 3.3 N/A
Conservative win (new boundaries)


2007 Scottish Parliament election: Ayr[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Scott 12,619 40.7 ±0.0
Labour John Duncan 8,713 28.1 -6.7
SNP Iain White 7,952 25.6 +11.9
Liberal Democrats Stuart Ritchie 1,741 5.6 ±0.0
Turnout 32,681
Majority 3,906 12.5 +6.5
Conservative hold Swing


2003 Scottish Parliament election: Ayr[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Scott 12,865 40.7 +2.7
Labour Rita Miller 10,975 34.7 -3.3
SNP James Dornan 4,334 13.7 -5.6
Liberal Democrats Stuart Ritchie 1,769 5.6 +1.2
Scottish Socialist James Stewart 1,648 5.2 N/A
Majority 1,890 6.0
Conservative gain from Labour Swing

2000 by-election

Scottish Parliament by-election, 2000: Ayr
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Conservative John Scott 12,580 39.4 +1.4
SNP Jim Mather 9,236 29.0 +9.5
Labour Rita Miller 7,054 22.1 -16.0
Scottish Socialist James Stewart 1,345 4.2 N/A
Liberal Democrats Stuart Ritchie 800 2.5 -1.9
Scottish Green Gavin Corbett 460 1.4 N/A
The Radio Vet William Botcherby 186 0.6 N/A
UKIP Alistair McConnachie 113 0.4 N/A
ProLife Alliance Robert Graham 111 0.4 N/A
Independent Kevin Dillion 15 0.1 N/A
Majority 3,344 10.4
Turnout 31,900
Conservative gain from Labour Swing


1999 Scottish Parliament election: Ayr[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Ian Welsh 14,263 38.1 N/A
Conservative Phil Gallie 14,238 38.0 N/A
SNP Roger Mullin 7,291 19.5 N/A
Liberal Democrats Elaine Morris 1,662 4.4 N/A
Majority 25 0.1 N/A
Labour win (new seat)


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