Western Isles

PERHAPS the hardest-fought marginal seat in the country, it is also one of the most peculiar, with a small electorate who can expect to eyeball the candidates and are more likely to be swayed by personality than policy, with the "foolishness" of Angus MacNeil a possible factor in the outcome.

This is seen as a straight Labour v. SNP tussle between two-term Alasdair Morrison, a former minister and BBC Gaelic journalist, and the SNP's Alasdair Allan, most recently a Church of Scotland press officer before moving to Lewis last year to work the target seat. The previous SNP candidate saw a 5% swing from Labour in 2003, leaving a majority of only 720 or 6%. Both LibDem and Tory candidates lost their deposits.

A Gaelic learner and enthusiast for the Scots language, Dr Allan has tried to turn the planned windfarm on Lewis to his advantage, demanding a referendum to garner opposition to Labour's support for it. This is despite SNP representatives voting for it in the Stornoway council chamber.

Often seen as something of a political backwater, this is a grudge match of national proportions since the SNP took the island seat from Labour in 2005, returning it to the SNP parliamentary representation it had from 1970 to 1987. In that case, the Scottish Christian Party won more votes than the margin of the SNP victory, claiming credit for Labour's loss. The victor in that contest, the same Angus MacNeil, made his name by sparking the cash-for-peerages probe.