The Scottish National Party (SNP) has produced another astounding election result in the Scottish parliament elections. It won 63 seats, two short of an overall majority.
The SNP won a landslide victory in the general election last year. It now has more seats than the parties in second, third and fourth places combined.
However, its 1.1 million constituency votes are significantly less than the 1.5 million votes it won in the 2015 general election.
The SNP’s two terms in government have seen no real change. The so-called “anti-austerity” party has implemented Tory cuts. But the SNP is still riding high on the wave of support for independence.
Labour offered a more left wing manifesto than the SNP, pledging to tax the rich more and fund public services. But no one was listening.
Labour finished third, the first time it has done so since 1910. It has 24 seats. The Tories gained 16 MSPs and now has 31 seats.
Labour MPs were wiped out in Glasgow last year. This year its constituency MSPs were wiped out – although it did get some elected on the regional list.
The current scandal over Edinburgh PFI schools served as a reminder of the New Labour politics that sowed deep disillusion in its traditional heartlands.
The disillusion spilled over into anger after Labour’s alliance with the Tories against independence. Many now wonder how Labour can ever recover in Scotland.
Labour leader Kezia Dugdale tried to win back independence supporters who defected to the SNP by refusing to rule out support for a second referendum. This left the Tories as the alternative for those who oppose independence. It undoubtedly played an important role in the Tory vote doubling since 2011.
The Greens tripled their seats, finishing with six MSPs, and beat the five Lib Dems for fourth place.
The left’s failure to unite meant the divided options on the regional lists received small votes.
In the biggest region, Glasgow, Solidarity and Rise gained around 1 percent each and around 6,000 votes combined. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) stood in three Glasgow constituencies and gained around 2,000 votes.
A united election challenge would have garnered much more than the sum of all three and could potentially have won a seat.
Focusing on a second referendum will let the pro-austerity parties off the hook. The key focus now must be on struggle.