Scottish Daily Mail
Tactical voting puts dent in SNP bid for majority
and the final constituency results, which will be announced today.
Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice estimated that the ‘most probable’ outcome is the SNP fall one or two seats short of a majority and need to rely on support from the pro-independence Greens.
Sir John said Miss Sturgeon will be in a ‘weaker position’ because of the result but ‘may want to push more strongly for a referendum’. However, Boris Johnson will be ‘more emboldened to put her off’.
He added: ‘Some in the SNP will regard this as a disappointment.’
Out of the 48 declared constituencies last night, the SNP had won 39, the Liberal Democrats 4, the Conservatives 3 and Labour 2.
Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Miss Sturgeon played down the prospect of an SNP majority, claiming it was always ‘a long shot’ under the Holyrood election system.
Asked if missing out on this weakens her case for on an independence referendum, she said: ‘No, I don’t think that’s the case if there is a pro-independence referendum majority in the Scottish parliament.
‘Of course, as leader of the SNP I would like that to be an SNP majority, but if that is the SNP and the Greens then that is still a significant mandate for an independence referendum when the Covid crisis is over.
‘I said in the campaign, and I meant it, that my priority... would be to steer the country through the crisis and into recovery. That remains the case. But once the crisis is over, if there is a majority in the parliament for an indemorning pendence referendum then people should have the right to choose our future.’
Asked on STV when she will begin negotiations with Mr Johnson on a vote, she said: ‘If it is the case – and I believe it looks very strongly as if it is that way – that the SNP is reelected to government and I will continue as First Minister, as I said during the election, my first priority on Monday is to get back to work to steer the country through Covid and when the time is right I will use that mandate, if there is a mandate for a referendum, to offer the people of Scotland that choice.’
She added: ‘We’ll have to wait and see how things go over the next weeks and beyond that with Covid.
‘My first focus, and I didn’t just say this during the election to win people’s vote, I meant it, I’m going to focus on steering the country through Covid. When we’re through that, that’s when I will assert that mandate, if we indeed have that mandate, to give the people of Scotland a choice over their future.’
But Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: ‘It is a mixed picture but one thing that is consistent is that the gap between the nearest challenger and the SNP is narrowing in almost every constituency. There are a few aberrations but most of them are narrowing the gap.
‘That sends a particularly clear message to Nicola Sturgeon. Although she is going to win this election, it is pretty clear she is going to be the biggest party, she needs to understand and hear the message from people that they don’t want another referendum as a goal, they want the recovery to come first.’
The Scottish Tories were confident, as early indications suggested they may have improved on their record performance on the regional list in 2016, when they won 23 per cent of the vote share.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: ‘One of the promises we all made during this election campaign was that we would focus on a national recovery, so I am going to hold people to that.
‘Let’s get back into that parliament and focus on national recovery, because the pandemic is not over and the aftermath is going to be really difficult for everybody.’
Comment – Page 22
‘Narrowing the gap with the SNP’