Scottish Daily Mail

Nationalis­t tsunami batters Tory dam

...but Conservati­ves could still be a barrier to SNP majority despite loss of two high-profile constituen­cies

- By Michael Blackley Scottish Political Editor

THE SNP is on course to secure a fourth term in power in Scotland but could still be blocked from an outright majority by the Tories.

A dramatic day of results saw the SNP pick up a series of key seats, including three snatched from proUnion rivals.

But it won’t be known whether it has done enough to win a majority until the final constituen­cies and the vital regional list result are declared later today.

The Scottish Conservati­ves have relentless­ly focused on the peach party list ballot – and believe they have increased their regional vote share compared to a record performanc­e in 2016, when the party secured 23 per cent of the votes.

Of the 48 constituen­cies which had declared by last night, the SNP had won 39 seats, the Liberal Democrats four, the Conservati­ves three and Labour two seats.

But the outcome of the regional list vote could be critical in deciding whether the SNP wins a majority.

Despite its strong showing in the constituen­cies, where its victories included two seats previously held by the Conservati­ves and one taken from Labour, the SNP is expected to make minimal gains on the regional list.

Polling experts also believe the SNP vote has not increased enough in key constituen­cies to indicate it will win a majority.

The SNP picked up one crucial seat in Edinburgh Central

Former SNP Westminste­r leader Angus Robertson won the seat that had previCarla­w’s ously been held by former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.

It also snatched Ayr from the Tories and took East Lothian from Labour.

But all the other 45 seats declared yesterday did not change hands, meaning the make-up of parliament is likely to be very similar to the 2016 term.

The Conservati­ve party focused its campaign on trying to persuade pro-Union voters to back it on the party list ballot in order to deny the SNP a majority.

Early indication­s suggest it could have increased its vote share in some regions – and Tory strategist­s hope to improve on the 23 per cent share from 2016.

There were strong signs that proUnion voters united behind the best-placed rival to the SNP in many key battlegrou­nds.

The Lib Dems held four of their seats – Orkney, Shetland, North East Fife and Edinburgh West – but narrowly missed out on a key target of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, where SNP Childcare Minister Maree Todd narrowly held on.

The Tories held two of their Borders stronghold­s – Dumfriessh­ire and Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshi­re – and also held off a SNP challenge in former leader Jackson Eastwood seat. However, losing Ayr was a major blow.

Labour’s big victory was Jackie Baillie retaining Dumbarton, which was one of the last of the 47 constituen­cies to be declared last night. It also held Edinburgh Southern as Tory voters lent their support to Daniel Johnson.

Mr Robertson, who won the top SNP target of Edinburgh Central, immediatel­y declared that voters believed that ‘Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands’.

The former SNP deputy leader said: ‘In this most European of capital cities, people have resounding­ly rejected the party of Brexit and Boris Johnson.

‘The public has rejected all of the parties that want to block an independen­ce referendum.’

Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who held Perthshire North to become the longest-serving MSP in a single constituen­cy, said it was now ‘beyond any doubt’ that the SNP will form the next government.

He added: ‘That is an absolutely gigantic feat for the Scottish National Party to have achieved, to be on the brink of a fourth continuous term.’

Nicola Sturgeon also held off the challenge of Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar in Glasgow

Southside. As results were announced at the Emirates Arena on Friday, Mr Sarwar won 10,279 votes to Miss Sturgeon’s 19,735.

In 2016, the First Minister won a total of 15,287 votes – with the Labour candidate Fariha Thomas winning 5,694 votes.

After the result, Mr Sarwar said: ‘I’m pleased that we doubled the actual number of votes that we got and we increased the share of our vote by 9 per cent.

‘I think you can see the immense progress we have made in the last ten weeks.’

He said Labour was still on a journey to build a ‘credible alternativ­e’ to the SNP.

Former Scottish Conservati­ve leader Miss Davidson insisted her

‘Rejected the party of Brexit’ ‘Doubled the actual number of votes’

party will still be a strong opposition to the SNP.

She said: ‘We are going to get into a post-constituti­on politics in Scotland at some point and I really hope that we do.

‘When you have the party in government, a fortnight before dissolutio­n before election, passing a Bill for another referendum – and saying it has to be Scotland’s choice and stating that now – and you have got a former First Minister joining the fray to try to make the vote harder and faster towards independen­ce, which voters in Scotland have already rejected, somebody has to stand up for the over two million people that want to stay part of the United Kingdom.

‘If that falls to the Scottish

Conservati­ves then we will do so because we believe that the vote in 2014 should be respected.

‘If Labour and the Lib Dems don’t want to stand up for it that’s up to them but we will.’

She added: ‘We have to get past constituti­onal politics in Scotland and we have to focus on the recovery.’

On the Scottish Tory campaign led by Douglas Ross, Miss Davidson said: ‘Absolutely everything that Douglas put together as part of his campaign – I wasn’t part of the campaign team and I wasn’t part of the planners – was all about not having a referendum so we can focus on the recovery.’

‘Focus on the recovery’

 ??  ?? Weathering the storm: Douglas Ross at Moray Leisure Centre in Elgin yesterday
Weathering the storm: Douglas Ross at Moray Leisure Centre in Elgin yesterday

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