A KEY election battleground, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire is the most marginal SNP-held constituency in Scotland.

The seat has been in the hands of the Nationalists since its creation in 2011 – as was its predecessor, the old Holyrood constituency of Perth.

But before devolution, this was historically a Conservative area.

And while the SNP's Roseanna Cunningham enjoyed a healthy majority of 7,166 in 2011, the Tories slashed this to just 1,422 at the last Holyrood election.

Ms Cunningham, a former MP, is now standing down, and Tory leader Douglas Ross has the constituency firmly in his sights. 

While a good chunk of the electorate lives in the city of Perth, this is a seat where farming and rural issues play an important role.

It takes in towns including Crieff, Auchterarder and Bridge of Earn, and the beautiful surroundings attract plenty of tourists. 

Jim Fairlie, the SNP candidate, was brought up in Letham in Perth and has been in farming for 30 years, as well as setting up a catering business

He is a first-time candidate, although his father – also called Jim Fairlie – was once SNP deputy leader and senior vice-chairman.

"As far as I'm aware, it's the Tories' number one target seat that they're trying to take," he said.

Mr Fairlie described it as a "very mixed constituency", adding: "There are areas that you would traditionally call very working class areas, right up to people who own big estates."

He said there is a sense of "injustice" even among people who don't support independence over "the fact that Boris Johnson is trying to take the decision out of the hands of the people of Scotland". 

Meanwhile, the full impact of Brexit has yet to fully hit farmers, he said.

Asked how concerned he is by the Tory threat, Mr Fairlie said: "It's not a case of being concerned – I'm very, very wary of taking anything for granted. 

"We're working incredibly hard in order to try and make sure we hold on to the seat." 

Laughing, he added: "But you know, in all honesty, I don't want to be the guy that loses the seat after Roseanna Cunningham has held it for, including her Westminster career, 25 years.

"I'm giving it everything I've got to make sure that we hold on to the seat."

He continued: "We just have to make sure they know who their local candidate is, and that we want to talk about the issues that are important to them, and try and give them some comfort that we will always try and do the very best that we can."

Tory candidate Liz Smith, the MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife since 2007, is hoping to take the seat from the SNP after hacking away at the party's majority in 2016.

She said there is a sense of "frustration" that constitutional issues are still dominating. 

"If you are a voter just now, it's your security and your job and your health and the education of your family that is absolutely paramount," she said.

"They're worried about their vaccinations, all these things – that's what's dominating. And they're frustrated that independence is still on the agenda."

Asked how confident she feels this time round, Ms Smith said: "I've been in parliament for 14 years, and we've had our ups and downs, but I have to say I'm feeling as good about the reaction as I've felt for a long time."

She said the SNP "has not had it's troubles to seek" when it comes to delivering key services.

Ms Smith added: "It'll be tight. I'm sure it'll be tight. I'm by no means complacent about it, because I'm too long in the tooth to become complacent. 

"But we're working incredibly hard – we've got a really, really good team as well."

Elsewhere, Janine Rennie is fighting the seat for Labour, while Julia Brown is standing for the Lib Dems.