After the 2024 general election, attention turns to 2026 Scottish Parliament election

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Scotland played a key part in Labour's historic general election victory - and the results represent a dramatic shift in Scottish politics.

Labour’s huge overall majority meant the seats won in Scotland were not essential to getting Keir Starmer into Number Ten, but Labour's share of the vote here was higher than in the UK as a whole and the swing much bigger. After the last election, Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray was the sole Scottish Labour MP - now he is one of 37.  

Scotland played a key part in Labour’s election victoryScotland played a key part in Labour’s election victory
Scotland played a key part in Labour’s election victory | James Manning/PA Wire

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Meanwhile the SNP - the dominant political force in Scotland since 2007 - finds itself reduced from 48 MPs last time to just nine. The exit poll prediction of 10 seats for the SNP was initially greeted with surprise and scepticism since most polls during the campaign had given the party around double that, but it proved slightly too generous.

The Tories in Scotland were pleased to perform better than their party colleagues south of the border. They hung on to five out of their six seats, leader Douglas Ross their only loss. But the party’s vote share was halved.

Edinburgh and the Lothians played their part in Keir Starmer’s triumph too, with Labour taking all seven of the SNP-held seats in the area, leaving the Lib Dems with one patch of orange in an otherwise red sea.

The SNP is now set for a period of reassessment and possibly recrimination, but the collapse in its vote confirms that independence is no longer the determining issue for voters in Scotland when they go to the polls.  

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And the Tories face leadership elections both at UK and Scottish level, with the threat from Reform UK potentially resulting in a lurch to the right.

Attention now turns to the Scottish Parliament elections, which are less than two years away. Could Labour achieve a similar victory then and install Anas Sarwar as First Minister in place of John Swinney?

Voters sometimes behave differently at Holyrood elections from Westminster ones - the 2026 contest will be about deciding who runs Scotland rather than helping to choose who’s in charge of the UK.

The SNP will be desperately hoping it can turn its fortunes round, put the police investigation behind it, end the internal divisions and persuade the public that independence matters. Labour will be equally anxious that the UK Labour government can deliver some tangible change and make a difference to people’s lives in time for the Holyrood vote.

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