the_fratellinis_albert_francois_paulFirst, unequivocally good things, in no particular order:

1) Andy Wightman.

2) No UKIP.

3) SNP win

After that, everything gets a bit nuanced.

First, the SNP got 150 000 more votes, though fewer seats, losing their overall majority (six Greens means there IS a pro-Independence majority…just barely). This Yes majority could unequivocally have been MUCH bigger. One cannot, of course, blame the SNP for wishing to maximise their vote, and the Greens did okay in getting the idea of the SNP 1 and Green 2 model across – but maybe they could have done better.

RISE didn’t happen at all. Neither did any of the other left parties.

Looking back, the SNP’s absolute majority in 2011 (and the consequent Indyref) is now clearly to be seen historically and arithmetically as a freak result. By that I mean that the SNP did WELL in the constituencies but not TOO well, which meant that, unlike this time, their massive list vote counted for enough to push them just over 65 seats. They then gained votes and lost seats, indicating that it is impossible for them to game the system except in the way they DID game it, which was pretty much at the expense of the Greens (and incidentally, the salvation of Labour, and the triumph of the Tories.)

Like Labour, the SNP’s instincts are territorial. Independence is their baw. And naebiddy else gets to play with it. As an issue, however, and as an immediate prospect, as indicated in their manifesto, another referendum is definitely OFF the table.

The effectiveness of the Tories in opposition will be, I think, a factor in the next few years, as to cementing the No vote in the Tories’ natural constituency – which they are now on their way to recovering, after the anomalies of the Thatcher/Major years. (The Tories having no representation in Scotland was demographically nonsensical…there IS a Scottish Middle Class which now and again dares to speak its name.)

However, I don’t see the Tories improving on this next time around. But I DO expect them to do much better than Labour did in terms of pure parliamentary gamesmanship. They have adjusted much better to devolution than Labour. They have, ironically, achieved much of the local responsiveness that Murdo Fraser asked for last time round.

The factors that might “materially” change the circumstances enough in Scotland to provoke another referendum are all, I think, external. Everything depends on UK politics…which is ironic, because if you look at the Welsh and regional English results, there being any such thing as a United Kingdom any more is at least debatable in terms of the landscape of politics. (For example, what has happened to Labour in Scotland has absolutely NOTHING to do with Jeremy Corbyn or Ken Livingstone).

On the other hand, it will take an acceleration of the Balkanisation clearly under way in the rest of the UK (in London, Wales and the rest of England as at least three distinct polities) – which Brexit and a Tory victory in 2020 would accomplish – to affect the constitutional question

As for Labour, like Britain itself, they have lost an Empire and are yet to find a role. There seems to be a split emerging between those who still dream, after all this time, that the last ten years haven’t really happened and they can wake up one morning and everything will be fine again; those who want to take the party further to the left – which doesn’t seem to have done anything for them this time; and those who want to take the party in a “new” Blairite direction…and eventually displace the SNP in the centre.

One almost doesn’t want to look.

Ironically, a feeling that this “hasn’t really happened and we’ll wake up back in Labourland” also afflicted a lot of SNP activists. Which I think accounts for a lot of the jitteriness over the last week or so…

As for the bigger, historical picture, if the 2011 result was anomalous, and independence really is off the table for the foreseeable future – both of which seem to be true this morning – then this result for me speaks of a wish for stability.

We want to be boring. We’ve made that collective decision. For the SNP – as a safe pair of hands. For the Greens – to prick their conscience once in a while. And for the Tories – to push the SNP further towards competence as an end in itself. I guess I’m not unhappy this morning (though I’m a little disappointed for Zara Kitson.)

I’m not massively entertained, however.

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