Cunninghame North (Scottish Parliament constituency)

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Cunninghame North
County constituency
for the Scottish Parliament
Cunninghame North shown within the West Scotland electoral region and the region shown within Scotland
Population69,233 (2019)[1]
Current constituency
PartyScottish National Party
MSPKenneth Gibson
Council areaNorth Ayrshire

Cunninghame North (Gaelic: Coineagan a Tuath) is a constituency of the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood) covering part of the council area of North Ayrshire. It elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post method of election. It is also one of ten constituencies in the West Scotland electoral region, which elects seven additional members, in addition to the ten constituency MSPs, to produce a form of proportional representation for the region as a whole.

First contested at the 1999 Scottish Parliament election, the seat was affected by minor boundary changes ahead of the 2011 Scottish Parliament election.[2] It has been held by Kenneth Gibson of the Scottish National Party (SNP) since the 2007 Scottish Parliament election.

Electoral region[edit]

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[edit]

Map of boundaries from 2011

The constituency is one of two in North Ayrshire, with the rest of the council area being covered by the Cunninghame South constituency.

Cunninghame North 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, causing Westminster and Holyrood constituency to no longer correspond.[3]

Following their First Periodic review into constituencies to the Scottish Parliament in time for the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, the Boundary Commission for Scotland altered the boundaries of the constituency. The electoral wards used in the current creation of Cunninghame North are:[4]

Constituency profile and voting patterns[edit]

Constituency profile[edit]

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.[5] The constituency returned a high unemployment rate of 6.4% at the 2011 census compared to the Scottish average of 4.8%.[6]

Voting patterns[edit]

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 by 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, had 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.

The Conservative Party derive most of their support from the affluent resort towns of West Kilbride, Fairlie, Skelmorlie and Largs along the north-west coast of the constituency, as well as from the Isle of Arran, and rural and suburban areas in Garnock Valley. The SNP are strongest in the more populated parts of the constituency, in the towns of Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Kilbirnie, as well as parts of Largs, Dalry and the Isle of Cumbrae. Dalry, Kilbirnie, Ardrossan and Saltcoats are historically stronger areas for the Labour Party which have since voted SNP.

Members of the Scottish Parliament[edit]

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[7] and this further increased in 2016 to 8,724, his biggest to date at that time. His majority fell in the 2021 election.

Election Member Party
1999 Allan Wilson Labour
2007 Kenneth Gibson SNP

Election results[edit]


2021 Scottish Parliament election: Cunninghame North[8][9]
Party Candidate Constituency Regional
Votes % ±% Votes % ±%
SNP Kenneth Gibson[a] 18,227 49.0 Decrease2.9 15,515 41.6 Decrease4.3
Conservative Jamie Greene[b] 10,451 28.1 Increase3.5 9,814 26.3 Increase1.5
Labour Katy Clark 7,536 20.3 Decrease0.8 6,412 17.2 Decrease1.1
Scottish Green 2,477 6.6 Increase2.0
Liberal Democrats Ruby Kirkwood 967 2.6 Increase0.2 828 2.2 Increase0.2
Alba 816 2.2 New
All for Unity 445 1.2 New
Scottish Family 254 0.7 New
Independent Green Voice 198 0.5 New
Abolish the Scottish Parliament 132 0.4 New
Reform UK 83 0.2 New
Freedom Alliance (UK) 70 0.2 New
UKIP 60 0.2 Decrease1.8
Libertarian 47 0.1 Steady0.0
TUSC 43 0.1 New
Independent Maurice Campbell 29 0.1 New
Scotia Future 21 0.1 New
Independent James Morrison 18 0.0 New
Renew 6 0.0 New
Majority 7,776 20.9 Decrease6.4
Valid Votes 37,181 37,268
Invalid Votes 162 80
Turnout 37,343 64.7 Increase7.0 37,348 64.7 Increase7.0
SNP hold Swing
  1. ^ Incumbent member for this constituency
  2. ^ Incumbent member on the party list, or for another constituency


2016 Scottish Parliament election: Cunninghame North[10][11]
Party Candidate Constituency Region
Votes % ±% Votes % ±%
SNP Kenneth Gibson[a] 16,587 51.9 Decrease0.7 14,703 45.9 Decrease1.1
Conservative Jamie Greene 7,863 24.6 Increase10.9 7,951 24.8 Increase10.7
Labour Johanna Baxter 6,735 21.1 Decrease10.8 5,861 18.3 Decrease8.9
Scottish Green 1,488 4.6 Increase1.8
Liberal Democrats Charity Pierce 780 2.4 Increase0.6 641 2.0 Steady0.0
UKIP 656 2.0 Increase1.2
Scottish Christian 272 0.8 Decrease0.1
RISE 219 0.7 New
Solidarity 216 0.7 Increase0.6
Libertarian 39 0.1 New
Majority 8,724 27.3 Increase6.6
Valid Votes 31,965 32,046
Invalid Votes 156 51
Turnout 32,121 57.7 Increase5.2 32,097 57.7 Increase5.2
SNP hold Swing
  1. ^ Incumbent member for this constituency
2011 Scottish Parliament election: Cunninghame North[12][13]
Party Candidate Constituency Region
Votes % ±% Votes % ±%
SNP Kenneth Gibson[a] 15,539 52.6 N/A 13,914 47.0 N/A
Labour Allan Wilson 9,422 31.9 N/A 8,050 27.2 N/A
Conservative Maurice Golden 4,032 13.7 N/A 4,160 14.1 N/A
Liberal Democrats Malika Punukollu 543 1.8 N/A 583 2.0 N/A
Scottish Green 833 2.8 N/A
All-Scotland Pensioners Party 679 2.3 N/A
Scottish Christian 278 0.9 N/A
Socialist Labour 268 0.9 N/A
BNP 236 0.8 N/A
UKIP 224 0.8 N/A
Scottish Socialist 123 3.6 N/A
Ban Bankers Bonuses 117 0.4 N/A
Pirate 87 0.3 N/A
Solidarity 28 0.1 N/A
Independent Richard Vassie 23 0.1 N/A
Majority 6,117 20.7 N/A
Valid Votes 29,536 29,603
Invalid Votes 126 112
Turnout 29,662 52.5 N/A 29,715 52.5 N/A
SNP win (new boundaries)
  1. ^ Incumbent member for this constituency


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.[14] 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[15] but no election petition was lodged.[16]

2007 Scottish Parliament election: Cunninghame North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
SNP Kenneth Gibson 9,295 30.7 +3.6
Labour Allan Wilson 9,247 30.6 -8.3
Conservative Philip Lardner 5,466 18.1 -1.3
Independent Campbell Martin 4,423 14.6 New
Liberal Democrats Lewis Hutton 1,810 6.0 -2.2
Majority 48 0.1 N/A
Turnout 30,241
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 -0.6
Liberal Democrats John Boyd 2,333 8.2 -0.5
Scottish Socialist Sean Scott 1,859 6.5 New
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
Turnout 33,491 60.0
Labour win (new seat)

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Scottish Parliamentary Constituency (SPC) Population Estimates (2011 Data Zone based), National Records of Scotland; retrieved 6 May 2021 (accompanying summary notes)
  2. ^ Scottish Parliament Constituencies Order OPSI
  3. ^ See The 5th Periodical Report of the Boundary Commission for Scotland Archived September 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "First Periodic Review of Scottish Parliament Boundaries Final Report" (PDF). Boundaries Scotland. May 2010. p. 187. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  5. ^ 'Cunninghame North'
  6. ^ 'Area Profiles'
  7. ^ "Scotland elections". BBC News.
  8. ^ "Scottish Parliamentary Election - Cunninghame North" (pdf). North Ayrshire Council. 6 May 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Scottish Parliamentary Election - Cunninghame North - West Scotland Region" (pdf). North Ayrshire Council. 6 May 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Scottish Parliamentary Election - Cunninghame North/West Scotland Region". North Ayrshire Council. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  11. ^ "2016 Scottish Parliamentary Elections Results". North Ayrshire Council. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Declaration of regional result Cunninghame North constituency" (PDF). North Ayrshire Council. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  13. ^ "2011 Scottish Parliamentary Elections Results". North Ayrshire Council. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  14. ^ Carrell, Severin (7 May 2007). "Blow to SNP coalition hopes as Lib Dems spurn independence deal". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 May 2007.
  15. ^ "Holyrood vote may face challenges". BBC News. 6 May 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2007.
  16. ^ No Labour challenge over election BBC Online, 25 May 2007

External links[edit]