Perthshire is poised to be a tight election battle between SNP and the Conservatives, according to new polls predicting a Tory surge across Scotland.
A survey for our sister paper, The Sunday Post, found support for the SNP at 43% for the snap general election, with the Conservatives on 28%.
That means support for the Tories has gone up by 13% since the 2015 vote, while the Nationalists’ has dropped by 6.9%.
Scottish Labour fell from having support from nearly a quarter of voters to under 18% while the Lib Dems slightly increased their vote share to almost 9%.
Meanwhile, a Panelbase poll, commissioned by The Sunday Times, recorded 33% of people backing the Conservatives, suggesting the party could be on course to win a as many as 12 new seats in Scotland in June.
Scottish leader Ruth Davidson has made Perth and North Perthshire a personal battleground for her party despite the SNP’s 10,000 majority.
Ian Duncan, the Conservative MEP, was selected to challenge Pete Wishart on Sunday night.
Alyth-born Mr Duncan said the election “is a chance to send the message that we do not want another divisive referendum.”
He added: “What Perth needs is economic growth and a government focused on delivering it. That will be my day job.
“In the weeks ahead, I will work tirelessly to be a real voice for Perth and North Perthshire at the heart of a strong United Kingdom government.”
Mr Wishart has increased his vote-share in every election he has contested and recorded support of more than 50% in 2015.
However, the Tories will take heart from having cut Deputy First Minister John Swinney’s majority from 10,353 to just 3,336 in the same constituency at last May’s Holyrood election.
Mr Wishart said: “In every single election I have been told by the Tories that I am going to lose the seat. I trebled my majority then doubled my majority.
“I will treat this as a marginal constituency and fight for every vote.
“I’m the longest serving MP for Scotland and everyone in North Perthshire will know someone I have helped.
“I have campaigned against Smart Parking and for Perth’s city status. Nothing is too small or big for me to take on.”
Survation’s poll for The Post also asked respondents about independence, with 53% saying they would vote No in a referendum and 47% backing Yes, when those who are undecided are excluded.
It asked whether, in the event of another Conservative majority government, voters would be more or less likely to support independence.
A total of 37.9% said such a result would make them more likely, 15.5% less likely, 39.8% no more or less and 6.7% were not sure.
SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: “The SNP will give Scotland a strong voice against austerity, blind pursuit of a rock-hard Brexit and a complete disregard for Scotland’s interests.
“The more Tory MPs there are in Scotland, the heavier the price we will all pay, with pensioners now in the Tories’ sights.”
The SNP won 56 out of 59 Scottish seats in 2015 and is still on course to take home a majority on June 8.
The Tories, who are campaigning on a message of opposing the SNP’s bid for a second independence referendum, currently have one Scottish MP – David Mundell.
A Conservative spokesman said: “Only the Scottish Conservative have the strength and support to take on the SNP. Only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives will send the SNP a clear message – no to another independence referendum.”
With only one MP, Ian Murray, Labour faces a battle to maintain a Scottish presence at Westminster.
A spokesman said: “If you vote Labour you will elect a local champion. If you vote SNP you will elect an MP only interested in a second independence referendum. The Tories simply cannot beat the SNP in seats across Scotland – only Labour can.”
According to the “Scotland Votes” predictor, the Liberal Democrats would increase their number of seats from one to three, meaning they would likely fail to reclaim North East Fife from the SNP.