Last night’s results from the European election have shown that even after 12 years in Government, the SNP is continuing to win the support and trust of the people of Scotland.
This is an election that we never expected to take part in however the Tory’s disastrous handling of Brexit meant that it was an opportunity we could not miss. We went into this election with a clear and unambiguous message that we want Scotland to remain in Europe. This certainly paid off!
Last night saw the SNP win all but two local authority areas with the others both going to the Liberal Democrats. This shows, once again, that Scotland wants to remain in the EU and any attempt to prevent this is frankly undemocratic. The result of this election has also shown in sharp detail that Scotland is on an entirely different path from the rest of the United Kingdom. After the full results for the UK were announced, twitter began to be flooded with maps showing Scotland almost entirely yellow and the rest of the UK a haze of Brexit blue with some spots of orange and red. You would almost think that these were two completely separate countries. The reality is, it might now be too long before that is indeed the case.
Both Labour and the Tories suffered a great deal in this election. Our opposition and the unionist vote has never been more damaged and divided. It was an especially difficult evening for the Scottish Labour Party. Despite once being the dominant political force in Scotland the party fell into fifth place in Scotland with only one percentage point between them and the Scottish Greens in terms of their share of the vote.
In Glasgow, once a Labour stronghold, the result was equally poor. Glasgow North East for example, Labour’s only remaining Glasgow constituency which they won in 2017 with a majority of around 400, saw the SNP win 8145 votes and Labour only 3805. This shows that the Corbyn effect of 2017 is now starting to disappear.
This is largely because of Labour’s inability to create a stance on Brexit. They are completely divided over the issue of EU membership with a UK leader who is likely Eurosceptic and a membership which appears to support remaining in the EU. With little sign of the party strengthening its position on this matter or moving towards supporting a second referendum on EU membership, the future of Labour both in Scotland and across the UK is incredibly uncertain.
The election also raised serious questions for the Scottish Conservatives. For the past few years the Tories in Scotland have been constantly using the line of ‘a vote for the conservatives is a vote against a second independence referendum’. The results of this election suggest that this particular slogan has reached its sell-by date. In local authority areas where support for the Tories soared in 2017, this election saw it plummet back to earth. Moray is a perfect example of this. In 2017 Moray saw substantial support for the Tories after the 2016 EU referendum where they voted to leave by 49.9%. In this election, 53% of voters voted for parties with a strong ‘remain’ stance in regards to Europe including the SNP which won 9,027 votes compared to the Tories who only won 4,648.
The very noticeable drop in support for Labour and the Tories puts the SNP in a very strong position to fight a general election which is increasingly likely given the ongoing internal battle for the Tory leadership. We are ready to campaign in that election and going by the results from last night we could be set to do very well indeed! Of course, a general election would only be a stepping-stone for us in a much more important journey.
Furthermore, the collapse of the Labour and Tory vote in Scotland also provides other opportunities for us in the SNP. During the campaign I had the opportunity to travel across Scotland talking to voters from a variety of political backgrounds. The chaos of Brexit and the failings of the two main UK parties has left many voters in electoral purgatory and completely unsure who to support. This political uncertainly has also caused many of them to rethink their views on independence. At this critical point where so many voters are waiting to be convinced we have to reach out to them. We need to put past political allegiances aside and invite them to join our movement to build a modern, progressive and European Scotland.
The results from last night showed us once again that Scotland is on a path to a better future. The next few years will provide us with many challenges but with the support and trust of the people of Scotland behind us we are ready to face those challenges and embrace the opportunities that will come as a result.
What has been especially heartwarming is the level of determination shown by our activists to win the support of voters in Scotland. We have always known that this is key to our success and now, perhaps more than ever, we need to employ this energy to continue to build support for independence in Europe and to win that better future.
- John Cumming, YSI Glasgow Convener