The first (and from our perspective, most important) thing to note is that independence is now categorically and unequivocally off the table for at least half a decade.
The failure of the SNP to secure another Holyrood majority last night (for the want of just 360 votes) combined with the Greens’ weasel-worded opposition to a second referendum – and make no mistake, opposition is what it is – will ensure that even if the rUK votes to leave the EU and Scotland votes overwhelmingly to stay in, there will be no indyref before the next Holyrood election in 2021
Whatever else happens, you can take that to the bank.
The scenario warned of by this site, Scot Goes Pop! and Derek Bateman – while others sneered and tossed around terms like “SNP apologist” – came true. A perfect storm of Tories capitalising on Labour’s collapse by playing the Loyalist card, Unionist tactical voting, reckless self-interest from the Greens and naive stupidity on the list saw D’Hondt take its revenge on the SNP for breaking it in 2011.
It didn’t come out of the blue. We’d been warning readers for nine solid months that the AMS electoral system couldn’t be “gamed” and that the meaningless pursuit of a “pro-independence majority” could lead to disaster.
And we were right about the wildly over-optimistic predictions of how many Green seats it could deliver too. While people listened to number-juggling idiots with a track record of being gigantically wrong on the subject, who fantasised about them taking as many as 12 seats, we studied the real political landscape and consistently said that four or five was a far more plausible number. In the end we were one out.
The “analysis” by clueless Green activist James Mackenzie and his Cutbot blog, which was prominently and repeatedly covered by the Times in particular (without ever pointing out his Green links), came up with some truly laughable “forecasts”, of which the most comical was their assertion that Alison Johnstone would win the Edinburgh Central constituency seat for the Greens, beating Ruth Davidson into 3rd place:
In reality Johnstone’s pointless vanity candidacy saw her trail in a distant 4th, with her 4644 votes – less than half of what Cutbot had “predicted” – achieving nothing more than splitting the pro-independence vote enough to let the Tory leader pip the SNP’s Alison Dickie to the seat by just 610.
(And while Davidson personally would have got in on the regional vote anyway, the Tories still made a net gain from the win, taking three list seats in Lothian – one more than they got in 2011 despite winning a constituency seat this time round.)
Readers in need of a laugh after the election result are heartily advised to have a look at Cutbot’s “forecast” and see just how stupendously wrong it got almost everything.
Seats it predicted on a razor-edge turned out as landslides and vice versa. Every single surprise result – including Labour holding onto Iain Gray’s seat in East Lothian and Willie Rennie capturing Fife North East from the SNP – it missed by a mile.
And yet, we’d wager good money that no lessons whatsoever will be learned and at the next election the press will once again blindly parrot useless numbers-based forecasting over any kind of sane analysis of the reality of specific seats and regions.
Perhaps the standout moment of the BBC’s live coverage in that respect was when Professor John Curtice casually asserted early on Friday morning that the SNP had suffered from “exaggerated expectation”.
The academic somehow neglected to point out who’d exaggerated it – people like him, as the author of a much-ballyhooed study the month before the election, proclaiming that the Nats would get a majority from constituency seats alone, which was used by the media and small parties to assure the party’s voters that they could safely lend their list votes to the likes of the Greens and RISE.
The far-left parties were in the event humiliated, as we’d also predicted.
In the end, hardly anyone did waste votes on them. Cat Boyd and Colin Fox’s RISE limped in with a feeble 0.9% of the vote in their strongest region, Glasgow, scoring just ONE vote more than the demented anti-devolutionists of the “A Better Britain Unionist Party” despite enjoying vastly more media coverage.
But even more embarrassingly, RISE were trounced by their real bête noire, Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity, who racked up almost 50% more votes than the newcomers but still came nowhere close to the 5% needed to hold onto their deposit.
(In other regions, RISE struggled to even record votes in four figures.)
But there it is. Independence supporters ignored all our warnings and now the Scottish Government will be at the mercy of the opposition, in all sorts of ways.
One of the most immediate is that the Nats may be unwilling to sacrifice one of their MSPs to be Presiding Officer, which could result in a Unionist one who would rule any second referendum outwith Holyrood’s powers, even if there were the votes for it.
The Offensive Behaviour (Football) Act – hugely backed by the public across all party lines, but opposed by the media and every non-SNP party – may well also find itself scrapped. “Named Person” legislation, overwhelmingly backed by every child-welfare agency in the land, could be sabotaged.
The fifth Scottish Parliament will be one of division and wrangling. It’ll contain more than twice as many Tory MSPs as its predecessor, crowing in bouyant and belligerent “No Surrender” mood.
The SNP has experience of successfully running a minority government, of course. But even then it was forced into funding the Edinburgh trams and had its attempts to abolish council tax and hold a referendum blocked.
The Greens will be a purely negative presence in that sense – they’ll be able to veto SNP plans, but they’ll only be able to pursue policies opposed by the Nats if they get the support of ALL the Unionist parties including the Tories. Those voters dreaming of a radical force pushing the SNP leftwards are about to get a rude awakening.
But then, that’s what can happen if you fall asleep on the job.