By now, the Scottish election results are widely known, and pretty stunning they are too. Contrary to all expectations, the SNP secured an absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament, as the Lib Dem vote collapsed and Labour and Conservative ones took quite a hit too. The upshot is as follows:
SNP 69 (+23 on 2007)
Labour 37 (-7)
Conservatives 15 (-5)
Liberal Democrats 5 (-12)
Others 3 (+1)
The others are two Greens, and Margo Macdonald.
Full details are available on the BBC website here. (The numbers about changes since 2007 are theirs, and I think relate to their calculations of what results in 2007 would have been, given boundary changes since then. They clearly don’t relate to the actual number of seats each party held in the last Parliament.)
Having a majority makes issues of government formation very easy, of course. The question, rather, is whether this results in a large reshuffle of the front bench or reorganisation of ministerial portfolios.
In his victory speech, Alex Salmond offered to work with the other parties, but staked a forceful claim for the SNP as the national party of all Scotland. (Details are here.) He also emphasised the importance of financial issues, particularly borrowing powers and devolution of corporation tax, as well as the prospect of a referendum on independence later in the Parliament. This has caused some speculation – I was asked by BBC Radio Scotland whether and how the UK Government might choose to pre-empt the SNP’s referendum by calling one sooner.
It’s not surprising that Iain Gray has chosen to stand down as Labour leader, come the autumn. To add to Labour’s woes, one prospective leadership candidate – Andy Kerr – lost his seat as well. Life’s going to be tough for the opposition parties, given how thin all their ranks are. For Labour, the prospect of rebuilding is especially tough, as this campaign has shown how short of genuine ideas and energy the party seems to be.