Last night, the SNP lost votes to us Conservatives—but also to Corbyn's Labourby Adam Tomkins / June 9, 2017 / Leave a comment
Scotland did it differently—again. But this time not in the manner of the SNP’s liking. England and Wales turned back to a two-party politics not seen there in 35 years. In Scotland, we’ve produced the most pluralist election result in half a century. In 2010, Labour won 41 of Scotland’s 59 seats; in 2015, the SNP won 56 of the 59, scoring an astonishing 50% of votes cast. Yesterday the Nationalists were cut down to size, their vote-share falling to 37%, losing 21 seats. The Tories gained 12, Labour 6 and the Lib Dems 5. The Conservatives won 29% of the vote and Labour 27%.
What the results in England and Scotland have in common is that voters on both sides of the border struck out against the incumbents. But these were not protest votes. Rather, they were firm verdicts against the style and substance of the Prime Minister and First Minister respectively.
Like it or not, the dominant question in Scottish politics remains the constitution. This is emphatically Nicola Sturgeon’s doing. It was the First Minister who said on 24 June last year that the EU referendum result made a second Scottish independence referendum “highly likely.” And it was the First Minister who demanded on 13 March this year that Indyref2 should be held between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019, a unilateral declaration that triggered Theresa May’s brisk retort that “now is not the time.”
That line was not shot from the hip. We knew that the First Minister was going to make some sort of play for a second independence referendum. So we set up focus groups and we did polling and we tested and tested whether Scotland would welcome—or would reel in horror at—the Tories saying a polite but firm “no” to Nicola. When Mrs May said “now is not the time” we knew that she was not speaking for herself, but for a clear majority of Scots. Even some folk who want to see an independent Scotland thought that Ms Sturgeon was “at it,” as Glaswegians like to say, in seeking a second bite at the cherry so soon.
By making her demands the First Minister was not acting in the best interests of Scottish voters, but in what she perceived to…