"The mood in Scotland appears to have hardened in a direction unfavourable to the nationalists"by Gregg McClymont / May 12, 2017 / Leave a comment
The post referendum re-alignment of Scottish politics continues, but there’s a little life in the old (Labour) dog yet. So went the local Government elections in Scotland.
The SNP comfortably won a plurality of the popular vote, a plurality of seats, and is the largest party in a plurality of town halls and city chambers across Scotland. For a party which has been in government for a decade this is no mean feat. Labour’s 20 per cent vote share, and the painful loss of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire Councils, obscures a stronger relative performance as compared to 2015 and 2016 in its west of Scotland former heartlands. But it remains in a poor second place to the SNP even in most of these seats. And nationally, Scottish Labour was beaten by the Conservatives for the first time in a nation-wide poll since dinosaurs walked the earth.
Indeed, the surge in Conservative support is the headline story from this particular round of elections. Across Scotland, Conservative support rose to 25 per cent, the party’s highest vote share in twenty years. But even more strikingly in parts of the country where there was once a Tory tradition the Conservatives roared back—winning the popular vote across North East Scotland and down into the central belt as far as Stirling. These regions, which turned to the SNP in the Thatcher years, now appear to be back in play. Mood matters in politics and the mood in Scotland appears for the moment to have hardened in a direction unfavourable to the nationalists.
This is not to say support for independence has fallen from the 45 per cent declared in the 2014 referendum. Polls suggest it remains about that level. It’s more…