As I See It
Tory revival gives parliament a new dynamic
Maybe the buffalo riding and go kart racing really was worthwhile. The SNP won the election, but Ruth Davidson’s stunts appear to have helped the Tories disprove the notion, long held in Scotland, that they are the invisible party.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon hailed a historic victory, but Ms Davidson not only fulfilled her ambition of displacing Labour as the second largest party and therefore the official opposition, she also changes the dynamic of the parliament.
Scotland is still in the grip of the nationalists, but its dubious status as a one party state has been checked by the Conservatives who will present a different sort of opposition than Labour.
The SNP stole Labour’s traditional working class supporters, but the Tories always commanded a greater proportion of the vote than was reflected by the electoral system. By this morning, the Conservatives were the big winners in the regional seats, up by 10 seats, while the SNP was 11 fewer.
With the SNP now likely to form a minority administration, the other parties can offer an effective challenge. One immediate battle will be over the SNP’s tax plans, including its intention to deny the changes to higher rate taxpayers announced by the Chancellor in his March Budget.
The re-emergence of the Tories also indicates a tolerance of the austerity measures imposed by Westminster, and undermines a key feature of Labour’s campaign.
Labour’s collapse, following its disastrous performance in last year’s UK general election, could have been foreseen. A confused and flip-flopping campaign, particularly over tax, and the decision to delay publication of is manifesto, contributed to its decline.
But fundamentally the electorate has not forgiven the party for supporting the No campaign in the 2014 referendum.
Party leader Kezia Dugdale acknowledged this in her acceptance speech this morning. This may seem dignified, but it also begs questions as to why she pursued a strategy that she clearly knew was destined to backfire.
Ms Dugdale has pledged to continue to lead the party, and the party will support her, because no one is rushing to replace her. Few wanted the job when Jim Murphy stepped down.
She continues to hold the poisoned chalice of Scottish politics and must spend this period in opposition re-thinking her party’s future.