Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock will be one of the most scrutinised seats in Scotland at the General Election on July 4.

Since it was formed in 2005, voters in Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock have voted in Labour and the SNP twice, and the Conservatives once.

And it is one of the tightest races in the country, with a swing in the region of just 2.5 per cent potentially determining who is sent to Westminster.

In view of that, it's no surprise that opinion polls are suggesting the Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock contest - as well as those in Ayrshire's other constituencies - is "too close to call".

No incumbent has been re-elected since Labour’s Sandra Osborne won a second term in office at the 2010 election.

Corri Wilson, who is standing this time as an Alba candidate, captured the seat in 2015, when the SNP won all but three of Scotland's Westminster seats.

She was defeated by the Conservatives' Bill Grant in 2017, but at the last election, in December 2019, the SNP came out on top again, this time with former South Ayrshire councillor Allan Dorans as its candidate.

Corri Wilson, formerly SNP, now of Alba.Corri Wilson, formerly SNP, now of Alba. (Image: NQ Archive)

The voting habits of the two predecessor seats - one in Ayr, the other in Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley - help to explain some of the changing fortunes of the parties.

Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley voters elected Labour's George Foulkes, now Lord Foulkes in five elections from 1983 right through to 2001, each time with a thumping five-figure majority - peaking at 21,062 in 1997.

The Ayr constituency was a more established seat, and had traditionally been a Conservative stronghold.

Lord George Foulkes, former MP.Lord George Foulkes, former MP. (Image: NQ Archive)

George Younger, the Conservative defence minister, had sat as an MP, first as a Unionist and then a Conservative, for almost 30 years, from 1964 to 1992.

In his final spell in Parliament, Mr Younger held on to the seat in 1987 with a much-reduced majority of just 182. 

And though the Tories retained Ayr, with its slightly altered constituency boundaries, five years later, their majority was reduced again, with Phil Gallie declared the winner by a wafer-thin margin of only 85 votes.

Sandra Osborne turned that into a Labour majority of more than 6,500 in New Labour's 1997 landslide, and retained the seat four years later by a margin of 2,545, before becoming Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock's first MP in 2005

Former Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock MP, Bill Grant (Conservative)Former Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock MP, Bill Grant (Conservative) (Image: NQ Archive)

In 2010, Labour’s margin of victory was just under 22 per cent, with the Conservatives in second. The SNP languished almost 30 per cent behind Labour.

But the SNP’s rise nationally was mirrored in the seat. In 2005, it picked up just 13.2 percent and came in fourth. By 2010 they had leapfrogged the Lib Dems with 18 percent.

In 2015, this increased by 30 per cent to 48.8, in the first election following the independence referendum, and saw Ms Wilson, another former South Ayrshire councillor, beat the Labour incumbent by 11.5 per cent.

The gains were made at the expense of the three main parties, with Labour’s share dropping by almost 20 percent, the Conservatives by 5.7 percent, and the Lib Dems by 7.7 percent.
However, the 2017 general election saw the Conservatives take the seat through another former South Ayrshire Councillor, Bill Grant.

Allan Dorans (SNP).Allan Dorans (SNP). (Image: NQ Archive)

That election saw the Conservatives increase their share of the vote by 20 percent, largely at the expense of the SNP, which dropped by almost 15 percent.

In 2019, with a third election in four years being called, the Conservative vote remained relatively stable.

However, Mr Dorans saw an increase of nearly 10 per cent, almost entirely at the expense of Labour.

Martin Dowey, the current leader of South Ayrshire Council and the Conservatives' candidate this time round, took second place last time out, with Labour candidate Duncan Townson, currently leader of his party's opposition group at the local authority, seeing his party's share of the vote drop to 13.3 per cent.

* The full list of Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock candidates on July 4, in alphabetical order by surname, is Allan Dorans (SNP), Martin Dowey (Conservative), Paul Kennedy (Liberal Democrat), Andrew Russell (Reform UK), Elaine Stewart (Labour), Korin Vallance (Green), Corri Wilson (Alba).