Election dents Scottish nationalists' hopes for independence

Jo Swinney on the campaign trail with Tim Farron and Willie Rennie

Jo Swinney on the campaign trail with Tim Farron and Willie Rennie

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson said "there wouldn't have been so many SNP losses tonight if Nicola Sturgeon hadn't tried to force through an unwanted second independence referendum in March".

Tha figure rose to seven in Thursday's voting. While official data has yet to be released, it is possible that some of these people abandoned the SNP in order to vote for a party that was more committed to Brexit, such as the Conservatives, or, potentially, Labour.

This time around, however, it is harder to see the silver lining for Scottish nationalism.

After decades in which the Tories were widely overshadowed by the toxic legacy of Margaret Thatcher in Scotland, the Conservatives won a series of high profile victories, most notably in north-east Scotland, long an SNP stronghold.

Meanwhile, there is much more life in the SNP's political opponents.

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"Undoubtedly the issue of an independence referendum was a factor in this election result, but I think there were other factors in this election result as well", she told a press conference.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, Labour's Shadow Chancellor said: "No single party won this election and so Labour as the main opposition party demands the right to put before Parliament key policies from its manifesto that address the challenges our country faces and to seek majority support".

The other big casualty was Angus Robertson, who the SNP had promoted as the "real opposition leader" in the House of Commons. Going into the election two years ago, we had just 6.

The Scottish Conservatives' leader saw her party accrue 13 seats, their best performance in the country since 1983. Even the Liberal Democrats won back some credibility with four seats (an increase of three).

Events have shown Davidson was right to trust her own instinct during the election, and Theresa May should be grateful for that, because without the 13 seats won in Scotland, the Prime Minister would be described as the "former" Prime Minister today. So, in a shifting political landscape, the Scottish electorate helped rewrite a well-worn script.

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Ruth Wishart in The Guardian agrees with the First Minister's assessment, saying the result was more "generally attributed to the Corbyn factor rather than Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale, who opposed his election". In March, Sturgeon won a vote in the Scottish parliament to have the powers to hold another vote on leaving the United Kingdom when the terms of the UK's Brexit deal are known. After 10 years in power in Edinburgh, the nationalists found themselves increasingly called upon to defend their record on issues such as education and the state of the Scottish health service during the campaign.

Labour, presumed to be dead and buried in their one-time Scottish strongholds, performed surprisingly well.

Famed for the prowess of its election machine, this time around the SNP struggled to articulate an effective message.

Brexit has not altered the dynamics of Scottish independence anywhere near as much as seemed likely nearly a year ago, when a majority of Scots voted to remain in the European Union.

She lost her parliamentary majority following a late surge for left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative wins in Scotland.

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