Friday, 6 May 2016

The new Scotland

Well, that was an interesting night. Against my better judgement, I stayed up for the whole thing, once it became clear that this wasn't going to be a straightforward election by any means. The SNP, as predicted, have won a historic third term in office, albeit missing out on a majority by two seats. A commendable result after nine years in power and 99% of the media against them.

In essence, the Greens' gains came at the expense of the SNP, perhaps most symbolically in Edinburgh Central, where the Greens' Alison Johnstone's hefty 14% share of the vote almost certainly allowed Tory leader Ruth Davidson to scrape past the SNP's Alison Dickie for a win. This was even more apparent on all important regional lists, where the SNP failed to gain enough seats to make up for some surprising losses in the constituency ballot. Seriously, those results in Edinburgh are just bonkers - Lib Dems soaring to 42% in Edinburgh Western while losing their deposits in all other Edinburgh constituencies bar one. The affluent unionist-leaning constituencies have, it seems, mastered the art of tactical voting.

The big story, unsurprisingly, is the Tories coming second, and not just scraping it either, but bagging a whopping 31 seats. I can't say I'm sorry to see Labour crash and burn - they've brought it on themselves and deserve nothing less than a generation (or perhaps a lifetime) in the political wilderness for their behaviour during and since the independence referendum - and in many respects I actually think having a full-blooded Tory opposition rather than a feckless, infantile Labour opposition might actually concentrate people's minds a bit. The main political fault line in Scotland was confirmed last night as being very much one of a left-leaning, progressive "nationalism" versus a cruel, right-wing unionism. At the very least, I hope the Tories in Scotland now face scrutiny for what their masters in London are doing - something Davidson and her cronies have inexplicably managed to avoid to date. I'm just astounded at how readily such a large swathe of Labour voters gaily embraced their supposed mortal enemies... but then, we saw how happily they worked together during the referendum, so perhaps, for a great many of them, these supposedly vast ideological differences really are purely cosmetic.

Ultimately, with the combined SNP and Green seats, we still have a pro-independence majority, and as far as I'm concerned that can only be a good thing. And, though I voted SNP on both ballots, I look forward to seeing whether the Greens are able to use their likely status as kingmakers to steer the SNP in a more radical direction on issues on which they've been rather timid - council tax and land reform, to name a couple. And words cannot express my delight at the fact that, contrary to what some of the polls were suggesting, the repugnant David "Toad of Toad Hall" Coburn failed to make inroads in the Highlands and Islands, meaning that Holyrood remains a UKIP-free zone. And, in spite of early reports from the ground, voter turnout was actually up compared to 2011, reaching an all-time high for Scottish parliamentary elections. Hooray for democracy! I think.

So, once again, to recap my predictions from the other day:

SNP 71 (+2)
Labour 26 (-11)
Tories 21 (+6)
Lib Dems 6 (+1)
Greens 5 (+3)

And in reality...

SNP 63 (-6)
Tories 31 (+16)
Labour 24 (-13)
Greens 6 (+4)
Lib Dems 5 (+0)


  1. So it seems like those who voted SNP rather than Labour continued to do so, whilst those who always voted Tory continued to do so to. Sad to see Labour virtually non existent and in 3rd position but when you consider it like that, it's easy to see why. Still, a sad day to see Tories in 2nd place in Scotland

    1. Pretty much, though across the board there's been something like a 10% drop in the Labour vote, matched by a 10% increase in the Tory vote, while the SNP vote has remained largely static (or increased very slightly - they're actually up by over 100,000 votes in the constituencies).

      Once upon a time, Scotland was a Conservative stronghold... though strictly speaking that was back when they were the old Unionist party, before they merged with the English Conservatives in the 1950s. But this is very much an epochal event for Scottish Labour, and their problem is that there's such a dearth of talent in the party that I don't see how they can possibly turn it around. They should serve as a warning to all parties against becoming complacent and taking voters for granted... and that includes the SNP.

      BTW, before the D'Hondt "corrections" were applied, the SNP were on 59 constituency seats to the Tories' 7, Labour's 3 and the Lib Dems' 4. I never thought I'd say this, but I wish this had been a first past the post election!