GLASGOW, Scotland – The Scottish National Party (SNP) has virtually wiped Scottish Labour from the face of Scotland’s political landscape “in a statement of intent from the people of Scotland”.
Election records fell as results from Scotland’s 59 parliamentary constituencies were declared in the early hours of Friday morning, with the SNP gaining seat after seat from its left-wing rivals, Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Led by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP have secured 56 out of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster’s House of Commons, unseating 40 Labour MPs and 10 Liberal Democrats in the process. Scottish Labour, the Scottish Lib Dems and the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party retained one seat each.
Ms. Sturgeon, speaking to BBC Scotland’s election night programme, said: “This is shaping up to be an outstandingly good night for the SNP, but I think [it is going to be] a good night for Scotland as well.
“The tectonic plates of Scottish politics have clearly shifted. What we are seeing is a historic shift in Scottish political opinion.”
Backing his leader’s results night rhetoric, former First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond said: “There is a swing under way in Scotland [that] is twice the level of any swing recorded in Scotland or indeed across the United Kingdom since electoral records began in 1835.”
Having comfortably secured the north-eastern seat of Gordon with a majority of 8,687 and 48 per cent of the vote, Mr. Salmond continued: “The Scottish lion has roared this morning.”
The first constituency to declare was Kilmarnock and Loudon, which saw Alan Brown, SNP councillor for Irvine Valley in East Ayrshire, seize victory in the traditional Labour stronghold with a majority of 13,632, securing 30,000 votes in the process.
In the first humiliating defeat of the night for Labour, the party’s shadow foreign secretary and general election coordinator, Douglas Alexander, was defeated in the Paisley and Renfrewshire South constituency by 20-year-old University of Glasgow student Mhairi Black.
Overcoming a 2010 Labour majority of 16,614, Ms. Black, who becomes the youngest MP since 13-year-old Christopher Monckton took a seat in the House of Commons in 1667, declared: “The people of Scotland are speaking and it’s time for that voice to be heard at Westminster.”
“While I appreciate that this is a blow for Douglas Alexander, I truly hope he will remain to see his future in politics once he has recovered from this result.”
Despite her rapid rise, Ms. Black’s short career has not been without controversy, however. The Politics student and keen Partick Thistle supporter recently attracted a swarm of criticism for expressing her dislike of Celtic Football Club on social media, tweeting: “I’ve only just realised – I really f****** hate Celtic” and “Celtic, yer a joke! #scum (sic)”.
She was also caught on camera last October during a speech in Glasgow, in which she confessed she struggled to stop herself head-butting Labour councillors who she claimed had goaded “Yes” voters in the aftermath of September’s independence referendum.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Ms. Black could be heard saying, “It took every fibre of my being not to put the nut on every one of them.”
Visibly emotional, Mr. Alexander admitted that Scottish voters have lost faith in his party. Taking the podium to address the audience, he said: “This has been a very difficult night for Labour. Scotland has chosen to oppose this Conservative government, but not place that trust in the Labour Party. It will be our responsibility to re-win that trust in the months and years ahead.”
Effectively decapitating Labour in Scotland, the SNP also claimed the scalp of Jim Murphy, the Scottish Labour leader. Sweeping aside a once-unassailable majority, a surge in Nationalist support in East Renfrewshire propelled the SNP candidate, Kirsten Oswald, a senior human resources professional, to victory with a majority of 3,718 and 41 per cent of the vote.
Remaining defiant in the face of such a crushing loss, Mr. Murphy declared: “This is of course an enormous moment for the SNP and no-one can deny that.
“With a victory on this scale there also comes a responsibility. No-one should ever confuse nationalism with our nation, no-one should ever mistake their party for our country because our history, our streets, our flag have never and will never belong to one political party, or one political cause.
“Thousands of Scots still believe in the progressive policies that the Labour Party stands for and I will continue to lead Scottish Labour as we fight for them […] Scotland needs a strong Labour Party.”
Other political heavyweights to lose their seats to the SNP include former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, who lost their Ross, Skye and Lochaber, and Inverness constituencies respectively.
Officers from Police Scotland were called to an alleged attempt to commit electoral fraud at a polling station in the constituency of Glasgow East in Thursday’s General Election vote.
According to the Daily Record, a vigilant polling clerk noticed the same name being used twice before raising the alarm to alert law enforcement.
A Glasgow City council spokesman told the newspaper: “A vote was cast in the name of one person and duly scored off but another voter later appeared and tried to vote using the same details.
“The ballot paper has been isolated and it will be placed into an evidence bag and handed over to police at the count.”
Labour’s Margaret Curran won the seat at the 2010 General Election with a 61.6 per cent share of the vote, equalling a majority of 19,797. However, the shadow Scottish secretary was not successful this time round, losing her seat to SNP candidate Natalie McGarry, co-founder of Women for Independence