Winner in 2019 of predecessor seat of Dundee West: Chris Law (SNP)

IT used to be said that even in the absolute worst case scenario for the SNP in a Westminster election, the party’s two seats in the Yes City of Dundee could be relied upon to stay standing.

But now that the Boundary Commission has effectively replaced Dundee East with a somewhat more rural constituency, that supposed insurance policy has just been reduced to the one remaining seat that contains Dundee in its name.

Dundee Central is basically a rebranded version of the Dundee West seat that Chris Law has represented for the SNP since 2015, although it also takes in one-fifth of the population of the defunct Dundee East.

As might be expected, it’s now the safest SNP seat in Scotland on any metric. In terms of raw votes, the SNP’s majority over Labour in the notional 2019 results was more than 15,000, which translates to a monumental 31 percentage point gap between the two parties.

However, the first-past-the-post voting system rewards the SNP when they are comfortably ahead nationally, as they were in 2019, and punishes them when they are closely-matched with Labour or a little behind, as may be the case this year. So even in Dundee Central, victory for the SNP cannot actually be taken for granted.

On a uniform swing, Labour would capture the SNP’s safest seat if they are as little as five points ahead across Scotland. Some, but not all, Scottish polls during this campaign have shown a bigger Labour advantage than that. It’s important to stress, though, that the SNP are highly unlikely to suffer a nationwide wipeout even if they lose Dundee Central.

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It may be the safest seat on paper, but in practice, constituencies where the Tories are the main opponents will be much easier for the SNP to defend or even to gain.

Dundee is a straightforward battleground between the SNP and Labour, which creates a problem simply because Labour’s vote in Scotland has virtually doubled since the last General Election.

Nevertheless, Labour face their own obvious problem in Dundee, and that’s the independence factor. The result of the 2014 indyref wasn’t even close in the city – 57% voted for Scotland to become an independent country and only 43% voted against.

Support for independence has almost become part of Dundee’s cultural identity, and it’s therefore a trifle hard to imagine Dundee Central turning against the SNP in this election, even in circumstances where it ‘ought’ to because of the way the national results turn out.

Labour may also be increasingly worried about how much of the anti-independence, socially conservative vote they can hold onto. Nigel Farage’s (below) return as Reform UK leader was initially painted as a danger only for the Conservatives, but the polling evidence so far suggests Labour have taken a hit too.

If Dundee Central was a constituency in the north-east of England, it would be precisely the sort of urban seat with lower than average incomes where Labour would be terrified of a widescale loss of votes to Reform.

In an anti-Brexit, pro-independence Scottish city, the effect will be more modest but even if Labour lose only 2% or 3% of votes to Reform in Dundee Central, it will reduce their chances of gaining the seat.

READ MORE: Nigel Farage bandwagon could boost SNP’s chances of winning this seat

By contrast, the SNP don’t have to worry so much about losing left-liberal votes to smaller parties, because Dundee Central is one of the minority of Scottish constituencies with no Green candidate.

So although the days of overwhelming SNP majorities in the Yes City are probably drawing to a close for the time being, Chris Law can still afford to feel quietly confident of being elected for a fourth consecutive term.