Lion roars as Scottish nationalists score big

2015-05-08 22:19
First Minister of Scotland and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon celebrates the general election results in Glasgow, Scotland. (Scott Heppell, AP)

First Minister of Scotland and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon celebrates the general election results in Glasgow, Scotland. (Scott Heppell, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Glasgow - Scotland's nationalists swept to a "watershed" victory north of the border in Britain's general election, leaving the pro-independence party in a prime position to push its cause at Westminster.

The Scottish National Party won 56 of 59 parliamentary seats in Scotland in Thursday's vote, up from just six at the last election in 2010, the final results showed on Friday.

"It is an extraordinary statement of intent from the people of Scotland. The Scottish lion has roared this morning across the country," former SNP leader Alex Salmond said.

The extent of the victory was embodied by Mhairi Black, a 20-year-old student who unseated Labour's campaign chief, Douglas Alexander, to become Britain's youngest MP since 1667.

Labour's leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, was also defeated by the SNP, a deeply embarrassing loss for the main opposition party in what was once one of its heartlands.

"The SNP has done almost a complete wipeout," said Patrick Dunleavy, a professor of political science at the London School of Economics.

The final result gave Labour just one seat in Scotland, down from 41 in 2010, while Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives held their single seat and the smaller centrist Liberal Democrats went from 11 seats to just one.

"In Scotland we have seen a surge of nationalism overwhelm our party," an ashen-faced Labour leader Ed Miliband said, before later resigning.

The SNP's historic landslide is all the more astonishing as it comes just months after voters rejected the party's call for independence from the rest of Britain by 55% in a referendum.

Bring country together

"This is a watershed, historic election," said Nicola Sturgeon, who took over as SNP leader after the September referendum.

But she was quick to talk down prospects for any immediate push for independence.

"This election was not about independence," she said.

"It's clear from these results that it wasn't just people who voted 'Yes' in the referendum who have placed their trust in the SNP, significant numbers of people who voted 'No' have done so as well."

Sturgeon instead focused attention on economic aims, saying that the SNP would team up with other progressive political forces and push for "an end to austerity."

Malcolm Harvey, a constitutional expert at Aberdeen University, thought it unlikely the SNP would press for independence right away.

"This is a chance for them just to chip away at that so that when it comes eventually, the step to independence would be that bit smaller," he told AFP.

With the Conservatives set to become the largest party in the new parliament, the SNP will no longer be able to play kingmaker, as it had hoped when opinion polls indicated Labour could emerge on top.

The size of their bloc will, though, give them a powerful voice at Westminster, including that of Salmond, who was elected to the Commons in the northeastern Scottish seat of Gordon.

In his victory speech outside Downing Street on Friday, Cameron quickly promised to give Scotland "the strongest devolved government anywhere in the world, with important powers over taxation".

But Gerry Hassan, an expert on Scottish politics, warned the election could signal the possible start of the "end game" for Britain as a united country.

As soon as possible

The independence referendum paradoxically had the effect of invigorating support for the SNP, which has since accused Cameron's government of breaking promises on granting Scotland more autonomy.

Since September, the SNP has seen its membership quadruple.

Experts say this is linked to the party casting itself as a strong, anti-austerity voice for Scotland rather than necessarily indicating increased support for independence.

Scotland has had a devolved government in Edinburgh since 1998, although major decisions about tax and spending, defence and foreign policy are still taken in London.

The desire for greater powers and influence is a common refrain in cities including Glasgow, a once proud shipping and industrial hub.

John James Swift, a 19-year-old student voting on Thursday, said: "The biggest thing I want is independence. As soon as possible."

Read more on:    uk  |  uk 2015 elections

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.