|Written by Lindsay McGarvie|
So Scotland has voted overwhelmingly in favour of Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, sweeping the board by returning 56 of Scotland’s 59 MPs.
What does that mean for Scotland and the rest of the UK?
Well first off, it means a return to Westminster for one of its biggest beasts of modern times, Alex Salmond, the most recognisable member of what is now the third largest party in the UK.
Now that’s a prospect that won’t be a comforting one for David Cameron, even with a Tory majority that wasn’t predicted by many serious commentators and certainly wasn’t on the cards according to all pre-election polls.
Clearly, a Tory majority isn’t the result that Ms Sturgeon wanted. But she will do all in her new found power to make Scotland’s voice a loud one at Westminster.
It’s unlikely, but not entirely impossible, that Mr Salmond, the new MP for the once safe Lib Dem seat of Gordon, will be named SNP Leader at Westminster. Most observers predict that post will remain with the highly able and experienced Angus Robertson.
But Mr Salmond’s wily political skills will prove invaluable in helping cajole, coral and control the largely unknown and untested group of 50 new SNP MPs.
Under the leadership of Mr Salmond and his successor Nicola Sturgeon the SNP has been famed for its iron discipline. They will need that in spades to keep their new cohort in check and hold the new UK Government to account to fully deliver its pledge to implement increased powers to the Scottish Parliament as laid out in the Smith Commission.
And what are the implications of this result in terms of a second independence referendum?
While Ms Sturgeon insisted throughout the campaign that she is not actively seeking a second referendum, there is no doubt that there will be many in her party’s ranks of 56 MPs, 64 MSPs, more than 400 councillors and 100,000 plus members that will see this result as a mandate for a second poll on separation from the UK.
And let’s not forget, it’s now T minus 363 days till the people of Scotland go to the polls in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.
Will a second referendum be the central plank of the SNP’s next Holyrood manifesto?
Well, during General Election campaigning Ms Sturgeon said only a “material change” would spark a second referendum.
If the SNP becoming the third biggest party in the UK, with all but three Scottish Westminster seats and a majority in the Scottish Parliament doesn’t fit that description, then what does?
Referendum II? Watch this space.
General Election result in Scotland: SNP 56 seats, Labour 1, Liberal Democrats 1, Conservative 1
Lindsay McGarvie is a Director at 3×1 Public Relations with over two decades experience in journalism/communications (former Scottish Political Reporter of the Year). He is a PR and public affairs consultant with unrivalled UK media contacts and extensive crisis/reputation management experience and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.