I am rather pleased with my Scottish results prediction, and even more pleased with the result.
Even the BBC has stopped parroting the Labour “It wasn’t that bad” spin. So what do I make of the results, for the UK as well as Scotland?
Plainly, the Conservatives did very well indeed and David Cameron’s more liberal rhetoric, genuine or not, is a huge threat to the Lib Dems in the South of England. In these multi-party days, we saw in 2005 Labour get an overall general election majority with just 37%, so even allowing for mid-term protest gains the Tories should be very happy with 40%, a 13% lead over Labour and an 800 seat gain.
For Labour, perhaps the most disastrous thing is the loss of five hundred councillors from their already shattered activist base. Added to the disappearance of their dominance in Wales and Scotland, it is the blow to the morale of their troops, already shrivelled by Iraq, that is so dangerous. Labour now consists of an extraordinary mixture of trade unionists, ageing loyal but unhappy socialists, and aggressive young neo-conservatives. Look to see the latter leaving the sinking ship for the Tories in the next year or two.
The result is a real disaster for the Lib Dems. Menzies Campbell is very plainly not up to the job. I dislike the ageism being hawked around on this subject. There are plenty of dynamic, energetic, incisive people in their sixties. Campbell just isn’t one of them. He was lacklustre in his forties; it has nothing to do with age. A perfectly worthy MP, he just isn’t star material.
The Scot Nats, and Plaid Cymru, are the big winners. They are also the parties which campaigned most openly against Trident and the war in Iraq, which the Lib Dems downplayed. The Scot Nats need not push too hard for a referendum on independence; a compromise like a free vote in parliament on the referendum would be sensible. A SNP-led coalition in Holyrood, with a Conservative government in Westminster, will bring independence eventually. Alex Salmond needs a little patience.
Nicol Stephen, the Scottish Liberal leader, has about as much charisma as Menzies Campbell. His instincts are to keep the coalition with New Labour going at Holyrood. He is extremely comfortable with New Labour managerialism, and the Lib Dem campaign was marred by visceral hatred of the SNP and an irrational rejection of the very notion of an Independence referendum. I don’t rule out McConnell and Stephen arrogantly carrying on as though nothing had happened. That would lead to a massacre of the Scottish Lib Dems in the medium term.
The Greens were sadly squeezed in Scotland, while the socialist parties were victims of quite incredible levels of personal arrogance and idiocy. A shame that flawed personalities and in-fighting destroyed some of the more interesting diversity in British politics.
Finally, I tend to cock-up not conspiracy on the spoilt ballots debacle. The Labour Party probably suffered worse as their supporters are by definition more stupid. Indeed many of them apparently need someone else to fill in their postal ballots!