It was a bloodbath, a signal rejection of parties who chose to tack right to placate England rather than acknowledge their left-leaning Scottish constituency.
It was not in itself a clear mandate for a second independence referendum (as the SNP actually polled 163’000 less votes than Yes gained in September and hadn’t made a second referendum a manifesto promise anyway) although with a Conservative majority imposed by England and the prospect of an In-Out referendum on the EU, it’s not a prospect that is going away any time soon.
The SNP were victorious because they made presented a clear anti-austerity, Scotland first message – something the other parties failed to do.
Labour suffered because they were seen as Tory front men in the negative Better Together campaign, failed to present themselves as effective opposition to the Coalition (or indeed, to the SNP in Holyrood) and were perceived as establishment figures, supporting Trident, opposing further devolution and preaching austerity-lite to placate middle England rather than opposing the Coalition cuts head on.
The Liberal Democrats lost their enduring Scottish heartlands due to their decision to enter the coalition, as being seen to prop up a Tory government is the quickest way to push Scottish tactical voters away. Of course it’s more than a little ironic that Liberal losses in England facilitated the Conservative majority we find ourselves with…
The SNP have a mandate to represent Scotland in Westminster, but it will be as the second party of opposition in a mostly hostile parliament. What can they really achieve, apart from noisy dissent?
It is important for democracy in Scotland that the SNP winning 95% of Scottish seats with 50% of the vote is acknowledged for the democratic anachronism that it is.
It is important for democracy in Scotland that Labour and the Liberal Democrats take stock and recover, ideally taking the lead from their grass roots campaigners, rather than party HQ in London (as that has worked so well over the last five years…) because an indefinite SNP hegemony is not healthy.
It is important for democracy in Scotland that the debate leading towards next year’s Holyrood elections is more open, more constructive and that the issue of independence becomes secondary to talking about policies for improving the lot of Scotland’s people.
The independence referendum is now behind us, the general election is now behind us. The time has come to concentrate on Scottish politics, on finding common ground and doing our best to mediate the Conservative cuts which are surely coming.