Scotland politics

Election 2017: Lib Dems confirm target seat candidates

Alistair Carmichael Image copyright PA
Image caption Alistair Carmichael won the Liberal Democrats' only seat in Scotland in 2015

The Liberal Democrats were nearly wiped out in Scotland in 2015.

Like Labour and the Conservatives, they managed just one seat. Alistair Carmichael won Orkney and Shetland by 817 votes (more about him in a minute).

The party is hopeful it can do better this time with its pro-Europe, anti-independence message.

There are three key seats the party's strategists will be focusing on (all with female candidates as the party tries to shake off the idea it's dominated by men - all of its MSPs are male).

Firstly Edinburgh West. This was the seat won by Michelle Thomson for the SNP last time around - before she withdrew from the party whip amid controversy over property deals. She's not standing this time.

The Lib Dems have chosen Christine Jardine as their candidate. The party won the equivalent seat at Holyrood last year and thinks it has a strong ground campaign.

Image copyright Scottish Liberal Democrats
Image caption The Lib Dems have chosen Christine Jardine as their candidate for Edinburgh West

They think they can win anti-independence votes from Labour and the Conservatives which may be enough to win them the seat (the Conservatives are standing Sandy Batho, it's expected the SNP will announce their candidate this weekend).

Another target is East Dunbartonshire where former junior minister Jo Swinson is trying to win her seat back from the SNP. Last time John Nicolson won by more than 2,000 votes.

The Lib Dems are hopeful here too; party strategists think Ms Swinson has "star power" and say donations have been flooding in.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Party strategists think Jo Swinson has "star power"

But SNP insiders think her record could be a weakness, given that she was a prominent MP during the coalition years. Residents in the constituency can expect to hear a lot on that from the Nationalists in the next six weeks.

One other seat they'll be concentrating on is North East Fife. The Lib Dems won the equivalent Scottish Parliament seat (ish, Westminster and Holyrood seats differ in size and scope) last year.

Before 2015, they had held it since the 1980s. They've identified this as one to watch this time and have chosen councillor Elizabeth Riches to stand. But the incumbent SNP MP Stephen Gethins has a high-profile as the party's Europe spokesman. He's thought to be confident of keeping this one on 8 June.

Image caption Elizabeth Riches has been chosen as the party's candidate for North East Fife

Finally, the seat they held last time, Orkney and Shetland.

After the 2015 result there was a high-profile row over Mr Carmichael's future. It was revealed he'd backed the leaking of a document which suggested Nicola Sturgeon wanted David Cameron to be PM (a claim she furiously denied, and which there is no evidence for).

He faced calls to resign and was taken to a special election court by campaigners. Judges say he told a blatant lie about when he knew about the memo in a TV interview, but ruled it wasn't proven beyond reasonable doubt he'd committed an illegal practice.

The Lib Dem team are confident they can win it though. They argue attacks on Mr Carmichael were "overcooked" and point to the increased majorities enjoyed by local MSPs at Holyrood elections last year.

As noted in this blog though, the SNP say they will be fighting hard to win this and other seats they didn't take last time.

* We will have a full list of candidates online after the close of nominations.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites