Scotland’s largest city defines election as SNP surge, but unionists cling onto list seats
NICOLA STURGEON, bursting with confidence on stage, spoke of her teenage dreams. Never would she have imagined, the first minister opined, that the SNP would win every constituency seat in Glasgow – not once, but twice.
But they did. All eight seats. From Anniesland to Southside the Labour Party crumbled, with increased SNP majorities the result. Compared to the 2015 General Election – when decades of history occurred in one night – there was expectation rather than shock as teller after teller tallied their returns.
Labour candidates were nowhere to be seen as the SNP vote piled up. Ominously for those who guard Scotland’s so-called ‘centre-left’ consensus, there were gleeful Tories welcoming each step of progress from Labour’s demise.
SNP MP Anne McLaughlin was emotional – “in tears” in fact – as she watched Glasgow Provan back new candidate Ivan McKee. McKee, a former Labour member, proclaimed that his election was a step toward Scottish independence, and a further condemnation for Labour choosing “Tory austerity over self-determination”.
There were emotions too for Patricia Ferguson, Paul Martin, James Kelly, and Johann Lamont – who all lost their constituency seats to the SNP, although the later two would re-emerge as list MSPs.
The trend was clear. The voice of the electoral was clear. The SNP would win every constituency, leaving Labour to lick the wounds of another election calamity.
In Glasgow the tide still flows one way, and it’s leaving the heritage of red Clydeside marooned in its wake.
But above the more predictable outcomes – Sturgeon confirming her party’s victory to an adoring crowd – Tory constituency wins were building in the borders and North-East. The Tory cheers pierced the night.
The difficult prediction for the Glasgow election, like elsewhere, was the list vote. At first the Scottish Greens, who pushed the SNP close in Glasgow Kelvin, were confident. Gradually, as the morning hours drew in, their faces dropped.
The target for the pro-independence environmentalists was two seats – for co-convener Patrick Harvie alongside Zara Kitson. But, despite nearly reaching 10 per cent of the vote, the arithmetic wasn’t on their side.
Instead it was Labour (four seats) and the Tories (two seats) that punched the air in victory as the seven list MSPs were confirmed. Harvie made it, but for hopeful Green activists it was a bitter result.
The SNP, despite winning 111,101 votes on the list, returned no MSPs as a result of the proportional voting system.
In Glasgow it meant the return of Anas Sarwar, Lamont, Kelly, and Pauline McNeil to the political stage.
Adam Tomkins and Annie Wells now represent the Conservatives in a city traditionally resistant to Tory politics.
Glasgow, in both election results, was a microcosm for Scotland: the SNP riding high in the constituencies, with unionist parties taking the lion’s share of list seats. The Tories made headway, while Labour faltered.
Meanwhile the outliers in Glasgow were far down the results scoresheet.
Pro-independence socialist party Rise gained 1 per cent, at least slightly higher than its predecessor (the SSP), which received 0.4 per cent in 2011.
Solidarity, led by convicted perjurer Tommy Sheridan, won slightly more votes – but was also well below the numbers required for election.
Rise activists, supporting a party less than a year old, stayed late into the morning singing songs of socialism and solidarity as the hours passed.
But song lyrics are no substitute for power – which remains firmly in the hands of the SNP. Bob Doris, triumphant in Maryhill, was direct: “The next step is to take the council.” Labour’s city chambers administration is all they have left in Glasgow.
Nationally, the SNP remain as dominant as the party was five years ago in popular support – although a second consecutive majority was elusive. In Glasgow the tide still flows one way, and it’s leaving the heritage of red Clydeside marooned in its wake.
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