Argyll and Bute may be on Glasgow’s doorstep but its a world away from the Scotland’s largest city.
With its stunning mountains, lochs and numerous islands it is the apotheosis of the popular tourist image of Scotland – a rural idyll with a handful of towns and villages scattered along its length.
Once a Conservative enclave it fell to the Liberal Party in 1987 and in subsequent general elections has been in the hands of the Liberal Democrats.
However, the upsurge in political activity surrounding the independence referendum could mean all that is about to change.
In 2010 the Lib Dem sitting member, Alan Reid, held the seat with 31.6% of the vote, albeit with a slightly smaller majority.
Despite 58.5% of voters in Argyll and Bute rejecting independence, the polls indicate the party could be wiped out as the seat becomes another scalp to the SNP.
The Lib Dems argue that negative polling misses out one crucial factor – the human element. This could well play in Mr Reid’s favour as voters in Argyll and Bute have a tendency to vote for the candidate not the party.
And local issues will always raise their heads in a constituency of this size. Transportation, particularly ferry services, are a concern, as is rural and fuel poverty and the fight for better broadband connections.
The one chink in the SNP armour could be Trident nuclear submarines which the party wants scrapped. About a third of the electorate live in the Faslane travel-to-work area and the smart money is on the majority wanting to see continuation of the naval base and all the economic benefits that come with it.
SNP candidate Brendan O’Hara, lives in Helensburgh and is well aware of the issues. He argues that the site could remain a base for existing submarines without the need to spend £100billion on replacing Trident.
“There is a common misconception that the SNP will close Faslane, which is not the case at all,” he said.
“As much as I personally would like to see all nuclear weapons removed from Scottish soil that is not on the agenda. So Faslane and its current capacity is there and it will stay,” he said.
Mr Reid said the election has become a re-run of the independence campaign.
And he recognises that if the 41% who voted Yes in September support the SNP and the remaining vote is split among the remaining parties the seat will fall to the Nationalists
“It’s a big constituency and there are local issues but none that dominates – it is the Nationalists and independence that is the big issue,” he said.
“The people who voted Yes in the referendum are overwhelmingly voting SNP, the people who voted No – from what people are saying on the doorstep – are voting anyone but SNP.
“The feeling is that if the SNP get a really good result this time they will then be confident enough to put the independence referendum into their manifesto for 2016 and we’ll be faced with another independence referendum.That is really what is worrying people.”
Argyll and Bute candidates
Name: Mary Galbraith
Profession: freelance business adviser on major IT projects.
Scottish National Party
Name: Brendan O’Hara
Profession: Independent TV producer
Name: Alastair Redman
Name: Alan Reid
United Kingdom Independence Party
Name: Caroline Santos
2010 general election results
Alan Reid (Liberal Democrat)
Gary Mulvaney (Conservatives)
David Graham (Labour)
Mike MacKenzie (Scottish National Party)
Elaine Morrison (Scottish Greens)
George Doyle (Independent)
John Black (Scottish Jacobite)