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Sunday, 18 March, 2001, 11:10 GMT
Key constituencies in Scotland
Elizabeth Quigley
Elizabeth Quigley: "There are certain seats to watch"
BBC Scotland Political Correspondent Elizabeth Quigley provides a snapshot of some constituencies to watch in the general election.

Of course, every seat is a key seat, according to all the political parties.

But there are certain seats to watch for signs of how the parties are performing in the first general election since devolution.

After being wiped out in Scotland in 1997, the Scottish Conservatives will be pinning their hopes on regaining some of their lost seats.

The constituencies of Ayr and Edinburgh Pentlands will be key in their fight back in Scotland.

Polling station sign
Testing times for all of Scotland's parties
Ayr returned the only Conservative first-past-the-post constituency MSP - thanks to a by-election win - and the former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind is fighting to win back his Edinburgh Pentlands constituency.

Eastwood and Perth are also in their sights as is the Edinburgh West constituency which they lost to the Liberal Democrats in 1997.

The Lib Dems will be hoping to repeat their Scottish Parliament success in taking Aberdeen South and working hard to retain their existing seats, especially in Gordon and West Aberdeenshire.

Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber is a constituency that will be hotly contested by Labour and the Scottish National Party.

The nationalists hold the seat in the Scottish Parliament while Labour represents the area in Westminster.

Previous elections have seen the SNP targeting Labour's heartlands in the central belt and while this election will be no different in that respect, the SNP will also be looking to the Dundee seats.

Up for grabs

They came within a few hundred votes of securing Dundee West in the Scottish Parliament elections.

Argyll and Bute is also a seat where they are trying to make a breakthrough.

An interesting prospect has arisen in the constituency of Glasgow Springburn.

The seat was held by Labour MP Michael Martin at the last general election.

Mr Martin has been elected as Commons speaker and, by convention, parties normally do not seek to contest that seat.

However, the Scottish National Party and Scottish Socialist Party have decided to stand in Springburn, arguing that all seats should be up for grabs.

Indeed the socialists are putting forward candidates in all 72 constituencies with a paticularly keen eye on picking up votes from disaffected Labour voters in some of its traditional heartlands.

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