It was election night, and the big loser early on was the BBC. Brian Taylor stormed off as the big telly that the corporation had bought in the Barras failed to show anything at all, not even one of those graphs that shows how poor Scotland is. Even Greece can manage a working TV set. That’s how rubbish you are Scotland, said the BBC, your national broadcaster cannae even switch on a telly.
UKIP’s David Coburn arrived at his count in Dingwall in a plumber’s van, which was appropriate since in Scotland his party has disappeared down the plug hole and is coursing down the sewer. It’s going to take a lot more than a big plunger to save the party, but UKIP should have thought of that before choosing David Coburn. Plungers don’t come much bigger than David. Thankfully the much feared UKIP breakthrough seems to have been flushed away. In Wales however, UKIP seem to have won seats in the Welsh Senedd for the first time. How do you say WTF in Welsh?
Awaiting the result of the Glasgow count, cooncil leader Labour’s Frank McAveety looked like a man who could see dead people, or at least dead pies. Frank lost his own Holyrood seat the last time, he’s looking at another Labocaplyse. It’s not looking good for you next year, is it Frank.
Having lost his Rutherglen seat for Labour, James Kelly went on STV and with a very red face banged on about how Labour will be “making the argument” against the SNP for the next five years. They’d already made the argument, and they lost. The fact that James’s red face is the only red thing about Labour is one of the reasons that his party did so badly.
Clare Haughey, who took the seat for the SNP and evicted James, was asked what she’d bring to Holyrood. “Well I’m a mental health nurse,” she replied. The shattered remnants of Labour are going to need all the therapy they can get.
Late at night as speculation mounted about whether Johann Lamont had lost her seat in Glasgow, a photo of her looking angry was published on Twitter. This certainly didn’t mean that she’d lost her seat, she always looks like that. She had even more reason to look beelin as results came in and confirmed the early picture that Labour’s support has collapsed. The hundreds of thousands of Scots who once trusted blindly in the Labour party to bring about a better society have gone to the SNP, those who value the Union above all other considerations have gone to the Tories.
Another early result came in from Hamilton and Larkhall, which confirmed the pattern of the SNP’s vote increasing slightly, while Labour collapsed and the Tories saw their vote share increase. “There’s a strong tradition of Unionism in Larkhall,” mused the BBC’s Glenn Campbell in the understatement of the decade. There’s also a strong tradition of red white and blue lampposts and a distinct lack of green cars.
Not so long ago the story of Scottish elections was the story of the count of Labour seats mounting up as returning officers weighed the party’s vote. In the election of 2016 it took until 3.30 am before Labour won a single seat. Their vote evaporated, to the SNP, but even more to the Tories.
The story of the night is that the hard No vote is coalescing around the Conservatives. Ruthie’s “Vote Ruth Davidson for a strong Ruth Davidson holding the SNP to account with more Ruth Davidsonning” schtick appears to have paid off with the diehard Unionists. It was only after the polls had closed that she uttered the word Tory.
Jackson Carlaw took Eastwood, narrowly ahead of the SNP and pushing Labour’s Ken Wossisname into third place. A Tory, taking a seat in Glasgow, from Labour. We’ve crossed through the mirror now. Let’s just run that one past you again. A Tory has taken a seat from Labour in Glasgow. We have a Tory government running the NHS in England into the ground, dragging us into an entirely unnecessary EU referendum purely in order to settle the Tory party leadership, rewarding the rich and punishing the poor, reducing Scotland’s MPs to second class citizens, and some people in Glasgow still decided to vote for them. When are thoroughly vile Tory party still manages to take votes and seats from Labour, that all by itself tells you just how toxic Labour has become.
The lesson for the Yes campaign is that there are people in Scotland, former Labour voters, who are so committed to the Union that they’ve switched to the Tories. Those are the voters that we will never win over. Seems that the Red Tory jibe was pretty accurate after all. Next time someone from Labour calls the SNP the Tartan Tories all we need to do is to remind them where their votes went. Their hatred of the SNP has killed them. We’re facing an SNP government with the Tories as the official opposition.
It’s after 4 am now, and I need to get some sleep. It doesn’t look like the SNP can get a majority on constituency seats alone, so it’s all going to come down to the list votes. The pattern seems to be that the SNP is increasing its vote share in urban areas. Scotland’s cities and towns are voting for the party of independence. It’s nail biting, but it is still looking as though Scotland is on course to return a majority SNP government, and a majority of independence supporting MSPs. We won’t know until the list seats start to report. Then we’ll also find out if the rumours about a strong Green vote are true.
The big losers are Labour. What’s left of Labour needs to reflect on its ruination. For the first time in over 100 years it looks like they’ve been pushed into third place. If they really believe in the progressive politics they claim to stand for, they need to face up to the reality that Scottish politics is now a contest between a social democratic independence or a reactionary conservative unionism. There can only be one winner in the longer term. Either we lose our NHS, our public services, our free education, and become a glorified nuclear arms dump full of part time workers on zero hours contracts struggling with low wages and ever decreasing rights, or the Union is over. That’s the choice facing Scotland, that’s the choice facing Labour. It’s that stark.
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