Scottish independence dealt a blow after nationalists suffer losses

Thursday's surprise election result in Britain came as a severe setback for one of the most powerful women in the nation, and one of Prime Minister Theresa May's strongest opponents, as Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish National Party lost about a third of its parliamentary seats.

Two of the party's grandees lost their seats: Angus Robertson, SNP leader at Westminster, succumbed to the Tory vote in Moray, while, in what The Times describes as the "McPortillo moment", former scourge of the Tories Alex Salmond saw his majority crumble in Gordon. "But we have to acknowledge that the question of a second independence referendum was a significant motivator of votes against the SNP in this election, and we have to be attentive to that point".

Speaking of a "historic night", the leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Ruth Davidson told the BBC that plans for a second independence vote were now "dead".

The SNP had argued that Scots deserved a do-over of the 2014 independence referendum, which the "leave" campaign lost by around 5%.

Labour's Gerard Killen, who won in Rutherglen and Hamilton West over nationalist Margaret Ferrier, said voters had rejected a return to the issue of Scottish self-determination.

The Scottish Parliament has since voted in favour of the SNP government's demands for another referendum, although the constitution is reserved to Westminster.

Ms Sturgeon said "Undoubtedly the issue of an independence referendum was a factor in this election result, but I think there were other factors in this election result as well".

The scale of SNP losses predicted by the exit poll suggested transformative progress by the Scottish Conservatives, who took only one seat in Scotland in 2015 but are projected to win 15 seats in this year's election, according to the exit poll. Both parties embraced "valence politics" wholeheartedly, focusing on each other's lack of governing competence (the SNP in Scotland, the Conservatives in the UK), accentuating focus on the leaders, and simplifying their message to the extent that if there was any discussion of actual policies going on, they had failed. Sturgeon had called for the power to hold another referendum when the terms of the U.K.'s Brexit deal are known. May hit back at Sturgeon for her "tunnel vision".

The Tories picked up one of their top target seats, with former MSP John Lamont defeating the SNP's Calum Ross to win Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk.

Elsewhere, high-profile SNP MPs like Paisley's Mhairi Black, who in 2015 at the age of 20 was elected as the country's youngest MP, kept her seat despite early jitters that she might lose it.

"SNP MPs who last night lost their seats have paid the price for what was a massive political miscalculation on Nicola Sturgeon's part". And we can see this in the results.

"I think we have seen the country's reaction in the number of SNP seats falling".

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will "move forward in the best interests of all of Scotland" after her party limped to a disappointing General Election slump. "We got more seats. than all the other parties combined". They are still by far the largest party with 35 MPs (37 per cent of the vote, compared to 28 per cent for the Tories and 27 per cent for Labour) and still in control, with the Greens, in the Scottish Parliament. Although pro-independence activists celebrated the party's sudden rise at the time, there was also a sentiment that Scotland's nationalists had just missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

  • Leroy Wright