Cunninghame North (Scottish Parliament constituency)

Cunninghame North is a constituency of the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood). It elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post method of election. Also, however, it is one of ten constituencies in the West Scotland electoral region, which elects seven additional members, in addition to ten constituency MSPs, to produce a form of proportional representation for the region as a whole.

Cunninghame North
county constituency
for the Scottish Parliament
Cunninghame North shown within the West Scotland electoral region and the region shown within Scotland
Current constituency
PartyScottish National Party
MSPKenneth Gibson
Council areaNorth Ayrshire

From the 2011 Scottish Parliament election the seat was affected by minor boundary changes. Its name remained Cunninghame North.[1]

Electoral region

The other nine constituencies of the West Scotland region are Clydebank and Milngavie, Cunninghame South, Dumbarton, Eastwood, Greenock and Inverclyde, Paisley, Renfrewshire North and West, Renfrewshire South and Strathkelvin and Bearsden.

The region covers part of the Argyll and Bute council area, the East Dunbartonshire council area, the East Renfrewshire council area, the Inverclyde council area, North Ayrshire council area, the Renfrewshire council area and the West Dunbartonshire council area.

Constituency boundaries and council area

The Cunninghame North constituency was created at the same time as the Scottish Parliament, in 1999, with the name and boundaries of the existing constituency. In 2005, however, the Westminster (House of Commons) constituency was abolished in favour of new constituencies.[2]

The rest of the North Ayrshire area is covered by the Cunninghame South constituency.

From the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, the electoral wards used to form this constituency are:

Constituency profile and voting patterns

Constituency profile

The Cunninghame North constituency covers a diverse mix of areas located towards the northern half of the North Ayrshire Council area, rising from the working class towns of Ardrossan and Saltcoats in the south-west up to the coastal towns of Fairlie, Skelmorlie, Largs and West Kilbride in the north-west. West of here, across the Firth of Clyde, sits the Island communities of Arran and Cumbrae, which are covered by the constituency. Along the east of the constituency is the more working-class Garnock Valley which comprises Kilbirnie, Beith and Dalry, towns which once specialised in the production of steel and textiles before the industries collapse across the 20th Century. The constituency is mostly working-class in nature, although this is contrasted by the affluence enjoyed in the more rural parts of the constituency and in areas such as Arran, Fairlie, Skelmorlie, West Kilbride and patches of Largs.[3] The constituency returned a high unemployment rate of 6.4% at the 2011 census compared to the Scottish average of 4.8%.[4]

Voting patterns

Throughout the early 20th Century Cunninghame North was a safe Unionist seat at the British Parliament, carried by the Scottish Unionists (and later the Scottish Conservatives) consistently as Bute and Northern Ayrshire from 1918 until the constituency's abolishment in 1983, where the newly established Cunninghame North seat was narrowly won Conservative John Corrie with a majority of 4.1%. In 1987 the constituency went Labour with a majority of 10.4%, with the Conservatives gradually losing ground in the constituency, eventually falling behind the Scottish National Party in 2001. Since then the Westminster seat of Cunninghame North, later North Ayrshire and Arran, has consistently returned Labour MP's to the British Parliament until being won by the SNP in 2015 on a swing of 23.3%. At the Scottish Parliament the Cunninghame North constituency voted Labour in both 1999 and 2003 before being won by the SNP's Kenneth Gibson by 48 votes in 2007, with some stipulating that had a set of damaged and rejected ballots from the Isle of Arran been counted the result might have been a Labour hold. In 2011 and 2016 Kenneth Gibson managed to build upon his narrow majority, bringing him ahead by 27.3% in 2016 - where the Conservatives marginally overtook the Labour Party into second place in the constituency for the first time since 1983.

Members of the Scottish Parliament

Kenneth Gibson of the Scottish National Party presently holds this seat. With a majority of just 48 over Labour incumbent Allan Wilson at the 2007 election, this was the most marginal seat in Holyrood. However, at the 2011 election, Gibson increased his majority over the Labour candidate to a much healthier 6,117[5] and this further increased in 2016 to 8,724, his biggest to date.

1999 Allan Wilson Labour
2007 Kenneth Gibson SNP

Election results

2016 Scottish Parliament election: Cunninghame North
Party Candidate Votes % ±
SNP Kenneth Gibson 16,587 51.9 -0.7
Conservative Jamie Greene 7,863 24.6 +10.9
Labour Johanna Baxter 6,735 21.1 -10.8
Liberal Democrats Charity Pierce 780 2.4 +0.6
Majority 8,724 27.3 +7.6
Turnout 31,965 57.4 +5.6
SNP hold Swing


2011 Scottish Parliament election: Cunninghame North
Party Candidate Votes % ±
SNP Kenneth Gibson 15,539 52.6 N/A
Labour Allan Wilson 9,422 31.9 N/A
Conservative Maurice Golden 4,032 13.7 N/A
Liberal Democrats Malika Punukollu 543 1.8 N/A
Majority 6,117 20.7 N/A
Turnout 29,536 51.8 N/A
SNP win (new boundaries)
Scottish Parliament election, 2007 Result: Cunninghame North
Party Candidate Votes % ±
SNP Kenneth Gibson 9,295 30.7
Labour Allan Wilson 9,247 30.6
Conservative Philip Lardner 5,466 18.1
Independent Campbell Martin 4,423 14.6
Liberal Democrats Lewis Hutton 1,810 18.1
Majority 48 0.1
SNP gain from Labour Swing
2003 Scottish Parliament election: Cunninghame North
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Allan Wilson 11,142 38.9 -4.0
SNP Campbell Martin 7,755 27.1 -1.5
Conservative Peter Ramsay 5,542 19.4 -0.5
Liberal Democrats John Boyd 2,333 8.2 -0.5
Scottish Socialist Sean Scott 1,859 6.5 N/A
Majority 3,387 11.8 -2.5
Turnout 28,631 51.8 -8.2
Labour hold Swing
1999 Scottish Parliament election: Cunninghame North
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Allan Wilson 14,369 42.90 N/A
SNP Kay Ullrich 9,573 28.58 N/A
Conservative Mike Johnston 6,649 19.85 N/A
Liberal Democrats Calum Irving 2,900 8.66 N/A
Majority 4,796 14.32 N/A
Labour win (new seat)


In the 2007 election, the high number of rejected votes was particularly significant in Cunninghame North as the majority (48) was far smaller than the number of rejected papers (over 1,000). Additionally, ballot papers carried by boat from the Isle of Arran were damp when they arrived, raising suggestions they may not have been transported securely. There were also questions about a discrepancy in the number of ballot papers that left Arran and the number that arrived at the count, though the returning officer later announced that a manual recount found no discrepancy.[7] Allan Wilson, the former member for Cunninghame North was said to be discussing with his solicitor a potential legal challenge to the Cunninghame North result[8] but no election petition was lodged.[9]

Notes and references

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