Brian Monteith: SNP wins, but so do the Unionist parties
After 41 of 73 constituencies have declared the story of the night is the unexpected revival of unionist parties'¨ against what was generally expected to be another SNP landslide.
All the talk (even from the parties themselves) had been of the SNP sweeping the board in Edinburgh but Labour has won Edinburgh Southern, the Lib Dems have taken back Edinburgh Western – and Tory leader Ruth Davidson has won Edinburgh Central. A bit of an earthquake there, the Tories coming from fourth place in 2011 – political hacks were even tweeting about the result around the UK while watching their own local results.
It has been a very good night for the Lib Dems with the party leader Willie Rennie winning back North East Fife for his party – giving them two seats and making sure they can look everyone in the face again. Over on the West coast Jackson Carlaw has won Eastwood for the Conservatives, a gain from Labour. Once it was the Tories safest seat but they have never held it since 1997 and to take it back augurs well for them. Having also gained Dumfriesshire and Aberdeenshire West from the SNP and held Ayr, they will undoubtedly be the second party in constituency seats – the question now is can they keep up that momentum when the regional list votes are counted? That’s where Labour will come back into the picture.
While Labour supporters will be licking their wounds after losing some individual seats they will also be consoling themselves that it could have been worse and take fresh heart from a number of results. Iain Gray holding East Lothian and Jackie Baillie holding Dumbarton will build morale as they were both expected to lose while the Edinburgh Southern result gives the party an unexpected boost in the city.
In the city itself the Unionist parties have won 61.1 per cent of the vote – sending a strong message to Nicola Sturgeon as she contemplates how to act as the First Minister.
The SNP cannot win an overall majority on the constituency seats alone but will still go on to form the administration after the regional list seats are added on.
It is therefore a setback for the SNP – a poorer showing than the party had expected and the high water mark Alex Salmond enjoyed five years ago.
The party will now need to take stock for the results make talk of a second independence referendum look wishful thinking. It is time to stop all the talk of independence and actually start governing the country.
Rather than looking for faults around the rest of the UK, but particularly from Westminster, Nicola Sturgeon will have to take responsibility for the poor state of our schools and the relative decline in standards of the NHS. Both of these responsibilities are no one else’s than hers and she needs to address them. Rather than be focusing on political trips to London to make provocative speeches that may make her supports happy but have seen her party shrink back from its high water mark.
With the regional seats still to be decided and more upsets to come the 2016 elections are already the most interesting since the Parliament opened in 1999. I will need matchsticks in my eyes!