Scotland the place to watch on 8 June

One of the prime cases for Scottish independence is simply that Scotland is different from the rest of the UK. This case is, of course, debatable, but one area where it is clearly different is local government.

Scotland, like Northern Ireland, now uses the Single Transferable Vote system (mistakenly referred to sometimes as “Proportional Representation”; it is not that). The inevitable outcome is that it is extremely rare for any Council to have an overall majority (indeed none on the Scottish mainland or in Northern Ireland has), thus rendering the BBC’s front results page redundant.

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The above figures are perhaps the interesting ones. These indicate the first preference vote by party. Even at that, we should note that in much of rural Scotland Independents predominate.

Those figures give the SNP 32%; this is interesting because it is the same figure as last time (in 2012). Much has happened since yet, interestingly, the SNP first preference share remains stable.

The big swing happened of course among the “Unionist” parties. Labour was neck and neck with the SNP in 2012, and yet crashed to just 20% this year. The Conservatives benefitted from this in the main, rising to a quarter of the vote, a figure unthinkable even two years ago.

Notable also was the lack of clear direction for the “Unionist Remain” vote in Scotland, where those who voted Leave seem to be swinging behind Ruth Davidson’s party (despite the fact she herself was one of the most eloquent Remain activists).

The ongoing split in the “Unionist” vote is good news for the SNP, who are so far ahead in many of its Westminster seats that at least 45 or so are surely utterly safe. Elsewhere, however, tactical voting will be important and the Scottish Conservatives will almost certainly gain some seats and finish second in Scotland.

The scale of this turnaround, and whether it can then be maintained, will be interesting to watch.

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