In the 2015 General Election, the Scottish National Party achieved a landslide victory in Scotland, winning 56/59 seats. Although, in the 2017 Election, the party lost 21 seats, and were left with 35. The SNP lost seats to Scottish Labour, the Liberal Democrats and even the Scottish Conservatives in this election, even losing prominent MPs such as Westminster group leader Angus Robertson and former First Minister Alex Salmond, but what do these losses mean for Scottish Politics?
Across Scotland there are a number of issues that dominate Scottish politics. One of which is Domestic policy such as education. The SNP were responsibility Scottish education, the Curriculum For Excellence (CfE) which has been heavily scrutinised by opposition parties in Scotland and also criticised by opposition politicians and those who work in education such as teachers, although the SNP strongly defend their record on education. Other educational issues include the Attainment Gap which has been the one of the SNP’s biggest focuses in Government. The SNP are also responsible for Scotland’s public services in their position as Scottish Government.
Another issue in Scottish politics is the debate over Scottish Independence. The SNP support independence, and IndyRef2 (a second referendum on the issue of Scottish Independence). The SNP support independence and IndyRef2, although the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, and the Liberal Democrats all oppose independence and IndyRef2. Labour and the Conservatives have often accused the SNP of obsessing over independence whilst in government.
During the 2016 Regional Elections, the SNP went from a Majority Government in the Scottish Parliament to a Minority Government, and the Conservatives became the main opposition party, pushing Scottish Labour into 3rd place.
But what does the SNP result, along with the current state of Scottish politics mean?
The Scottish National Party have been governing over Scotland’s devolved issues for 10 years, and this election result could be a rejection or criticism of their performance in Government over the past decade. It could also mean that their policies have declined in popularity with the Scottish electorate. The rise of the Scottish Conservatives (RE2016) and the Labour comeback (GE2017) could also signify a decline in SNP popularity.
The SNP also achieved a landslide victory across Scotland in 2015 (56/59) and sent 56 SNP MPs to Westminster, this result could mean that the Scottish electorate are not satisfied with the performance of SNP MPs. This result was one year after the 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence.
The decline in SNP seats could also mean that there has been a decrease in support for Scottish Independence and IndyRef2. This could also be shown in the growth of the Scottish Conservatives, who are said to provide the strongest opposition to Scottish Independence and IndyRef2.
It can be argued that the SNP have seen a decline since their Scotland landslide in 2015, as they have lost their majority in the Scottish Parliament in 2016 and now losing 21 seats to the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats in 2017.
Although, it can be argued that the current state of Scottish politics is quite mixed. Even though the SNP lost 21 seats, they still held on to 35 seats. This shows that opinion is still mixed, and the SNP still have support for their policies and their performance in Government, and Scottish Independence/IndyRef2 may still have support within the Scottish electorate.
Overall it can be said that the Scottish National Party’s losses reveal a lot about the current state of Scottish Politics. They reveal that opinion is still mixed. Although there may have been a decline in support for Scottish Independence and IndyRef2. Opinion of the SNP’s policy is also mixed, but could have seen a decline in support for policy since the 2011 Regional Elections and 2015 General Election.
The SNP are still the largest party in Scottish politics, but the rise of the Scottish Conservatives (RE2016) and the Scottish Labour comeback (GE2017) show a decrease in support from some voters. Due to the mix of opinion, the SNP could regain some popularity, but if support continues to decline, it is possible that they could be voted out of Government by the 2021 Regional Elections.