The battle to win the hearts and minds of voters in Helensburgh and Lomond is now in full swing as the General Election approaches.

And, today, the Advertiser turns the spotlight on the local constituency, examining its role in helping to decide the UK’s future direction.

Allan Faulds, who runs the Ballot Box Scotland website, has cast his expert eye over the electoral landscape of Argyll and Bute – and examined the factors to be taken into consideration when attempting to predict the outcome.

Allan, who admits he is “super keen on elections”, says he expects the SNP to hold on to Argyll and Bute – if the party, and its candidate Brendan O’Hara, who is aiming for a third term as the area’s MP, can ensure their 2017 vote holds up.

Three people – Labour's Rhea Barnes, Gary Mulvaney for the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats' Alan Reid – are aiming to unseat Mr O'Hara in the December 12 poll.

READ MORE: It's a four-way fight for Argyll and Bute's election votes

Allan said: “At the 2017 election, the Liberal Democrats’ success in winning back three Scottish MPs disguised the fact that in a lot of their former seats, they lost a substantial amount of support.

“Argyll and Bute is one of a few Highland (mostly – Helensburgh is the awkward lowland bolt-on) seats where the Conservatives quite firmly displaced the Lib Dems as the SNP’s main competition.

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“Argyll and Bute was an obvious place for a Conservative comeback last time because it neatly combines two places they typically do well in.

“They’ve always done better than average in rural areas, which Argyll has in spades. At the same time they also draw plenty of support from affluent towns, so Helensburgh voted particularly strongly for the party recently.

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“Most notably, Helensburgh Central is one of a good number of wards across Scotland where they missed out on a councillor in May 2017 by standing too few candidates.

“With all of that in mind, if the Conservatives were still performing strongly, this would be a constituency you might expect them to easily take. There’s less than three per cent in it.

“However, in addition to pretty poor Conservative figures in recent polls, the Liberal Democrats are increasingly back in the game, with former MP Alan Reid taking another run at the seat.

"That’s going to make for a messy contest to be the party that can most credibly claim ‘only we can beat the SNP here!’.

“With a certain degree of independence-related tactical voting a fact of life in Scotland, any confusion about what the cleverest pro-Union vote will naturally boost the SNP’s chances.

“Remember that they have a pretty high baseline vote in most of the country anyway, and those recent polls have the party gaining ground versus 2017.

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“First past the post doesn’t need stonking majorities, and it doesn’t reward challengers who neatly split the vote.

“So long as Brendan O’Hara’s vote holds up to where it was at the last election, he’s likely to hold on whilst the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives scrap over second.”

Ballot Box Scotland tracks data from elections across the country and is able to provide an overview of what to expect in each constituency as the results from the December 12 vote take shape.

You can find out more by visiting

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