For the benefit of younger readers, to whom Michael Portillo is a charming, urbane character with a penchance for trains, this title requires explanation. It wasn’t always this way. 20 years ago, #sadmanonatrain was a toxic figure in a deeply unpopular Tory government. His 1997 defeat to Stephen Twigg was later voted the public’s third favourite TV moment of all-time.
Ever since, the term has become synonymous with famous candidates suffering humiliating defeat. 2015 was a bumper year. In Scotland the ejection of Labour bigwigs Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander caused plenty of cheer but the headline moment was surely Ed Balls losing Morley and Outwood.
This is a game we can all play regardless of party affiliation. If Labour supporters felt sick at the sight of bankers in Canary Wharf cheering the latter, they could take a little solace from defeating the ‘Witch of Wirral’ Esther McVey. Any Lib Dem or UKIP haters were cheering all night. In choosing this year’s seven, we tried to cover the entire political spectrum but alas, UKIP had to be excluded as they don’t have any MPs to lose.
If this one comes off, there will be no competition for the headline moment. Loved, loathed and admired in equal measure, the former First Minister is a man about whom everyone has an opinion. With the SNP still riding high, the idea of defeat seems ridiculous but there has been some money on the Tories to win his Gordon constituency from third place. Salmond starts 36% up on them but is on the wrong side of the majority of his constituents on independence, and a massive regional swing to the Tories is expected.