As predicted on these very pages beforehand, Scots went to the polls last week and rejected the most courageous manifesto on offer – that from the Scottish Labour Party.
The blow delivered to that party is quite possibly terminal, insofar as anything can be in politics.
Where once Labour dominated urban Scotland, leaving the SNP and Conservatives to fight exclusively over rural areas, the SNP has now taken over that urban role completely, winning every urban constituency seat except in Edinburgh both last year and this. The SNP did suffer rural reverses, as if vacating rural areas to take over the urban ones – thus where it once left urban Scotland to Labour, it is now ceding rural Scotland to the Conservatives.
This rural/urban divide was apparent in Northern Ireland too. In urban areas, social liberal stances were rewarded – with leftist parties scoring well while Unionists and SDLP shredded votes. However, rural areas were the reverse – there, the DUP did particularly well, as did SDLP social conservatives, but liberals (like John McCallister or most Alliance candidates) suffered. Turnout in more typically Nationalist rural areas was markedly comparatively low.
Pundits, usually from urban or suburban areas, often miss such subtleties. Of course Scotland is not divided fundamentally communally the way Northern Ireland is and it is markedly more socially liberal even in rural areas; but, in its lurch towards overtly constitutional politics and widening distinction between urban and rural, Scotland is becoming more like Northern Ireland than the other way around. That may prove to be unfortunate!