Election night will never be forgotten after SNP landslide
The 1958 film recalling the last hours of the Titanic was named, aptly, A Night to Remember.
It could well be the moniker given to May 7, 2015 as Scottish Labour ploughed into an iceberg of its own and sunk to the bottom of the political sea.
The problem with any film about the famous ship is, everyone knows how it ends.
But it’s doubtful even the most optimistic SNP supporter could have predicted how this drama would unfold. For them, it was all plain sailing as they turned the Scottish electoral map a bright shade of yellow.
While the polls had been suggesting that for some weeks, Rutherglen and Hamilton West was supposed to be different .”They couldn’t take Rutherglen, could they?”the naysayers said. They were wrong.
Throughout the campaign, Margaret Ferrier’s election team exuded a quiet confidence that they could achieve the impossible and oust Tom Greatrex.
For their part, Rutherglen Labour were never anything else but certain they were in a real dogfight. As the candidate’s supporters arrived at the John Wright Sports Centre, the consensus was that Rutherglen and Hamilton West was too close to call. It wasn’t even close, but not in the way we might have expected.
The amazement of the BBC Exit Poll seemed to leave people breathless. Many thought Tom Greatrex’s personal reputation as a hard-working, hands-on MP would be his saving grace, but they had to come to terms with the possibility that not even that could hold back the relentless surge of the SNP.
Both SNP and Labour members looked stunned.
James Kelly MSP, who had worked so closely with Mr Greatrex, looked visibly shaken as the gravity of what was happening became apparent. He retired several times to a corner on his phone, perhaps being updated on the national picture, which would have brought no respite for a man who is a key ally to Jim Murphy.
Margaret Ferrier’s election agent, Councillor Gordon Clark, buzzed around, all nervous excitement despite the cold that he was suffering. Everyone refused to commit to what the result would be, but when I asked one onlooker not connected with either party if Margaret Ferrier had arrived yet, they replied simply:“I think Margaret is looking out her dancing shoes, she’s going to need them.”
For a while, Labour members clung to hope that the numbers may yet turn, but reality can be a cruel mistress.
Ms Ferrier arrived shortly before midnight, but seemed unable to comprehend the enormity of the achievement that was playing out in front of her very eyes.
There was still no sign of Tom Greatrex. There was little more he could do. When he did arrive, it was with a air of resignation. His stint as MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West would end at five years.
The SNP congregation started to gather near the podium. Mr Greatrex’s followers held back, but they stayed to support their man.
Mr Greatrex cut a very different figure of quiet humility to that of his partymate from East Kilbride, who snapped at journalists and refused to shake the hand of the SNP candidate.
Margaret Ferrier told those present she wanted to work for everyone in the constituency, regardless of political belief, and showed dignity by personally praising the man she had just defeated.
There was one other person sporting a smile. Young Taylor Muir of the Conservatives, who had held the Tory vote up despite the possibility of tactical voting, was delighted his party was set to win the election.
But perhaps, at the back of his mind, was a concern for what the result might mean for the future of the Union.
For Labour, they must find a way of raising their own political Titanic from the depths.
Voters Linda Bulloch with Bruce