In 2003, the SNP went down to 27 seats, with the analysis being that minority parties like the SSP and Greens benefited at their expense. Fast forward four years, the minority parties collapse, and the SNP emerge as the biggest party.
I managed to wangle my way into the count on Thursday night at the SECC. Labour's Govan activists were attributing Nicola Sturgeon's win to the fact the there was no SSP candidate there this time. To which I responded that their almost in-house rag the News of the World shouldn't have engineered the Tommy Sheridan split then!
There's a backs to the wall mentality in the SNP that is not misplaced. When you have the other major parties uniting in their dislike for you, backed up by the mainstream media, you deserve every happiness when you beat the system. Getting the Edinburgh-Glasgow train on Friday (an essential journey for all interested in politics) I was sitting near to the Scottish TV team who seemed a tad bitter about the result. Jack McConnell was simply "Jack" while Alex Salmond was referred to as "Salmond" (I wasn't eavesdropping, my friend was!). A small example, but it points to something regarding the media relationship with Labour.
I think the mood in the SNP could be summed up by employing the famous Norwegian commentary from 1981 when the country beat England at football. Except it would sound like this:
"Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Jack McConnell, Menzies Campbell, The Daily Record, The Scottish Sun, Sir Alex Ferguson, Tesco, we have beaten them all, we have beaten them all. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher [...] your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!"
It may just have been by one seat, but Labour being beaten is a once in five generations event here in Scotland. It was just two short years ago that Alex Salmond was being ridiculed for his target of winning twenty extra seats in order to become the largest party. How quickly the mood in the country changed. Despite this, there isn't any proper recognition that Thursday's result was mission exactly accomplished as far the SNP are concerned and marked a remarkable swing to the party.
Just a few years ago it was said that nationalism was "stone dead". This is the reason that the Liberal Democrats are so opposed to the idea of a referendem on independence. Despite the bravado that the Scottish people keep voting against it, they are actually worried that Salmond might just be able to win it come 2010.
And Scottish Labour's and Scottish Liberal Democrat's colleagues down in Westminster just wouldn't want to be out of a job like that. I hope that they come to the realisation that they should forsake their counterparts, if only to safeguard their own seats. Watching the defiant performances (not referring to John Robertson MP's punching of a teenager there) from some of the re-elected Labour MSPs at the Glasgow count on Thursday, I can't understand why they seemed to revel in the heckling of them as "murderers". I don't think the likes of Margaret Curran are neo-cons, but can't go as far as to say I feel sorry for them if they don't put any distance between themselves and Blair. McConnell could have made a national hero of himself if he became Scotland's answer to London Mayor Ken Livingstone (who also accepts that London does not subsidise Scotland). Blair's contribution to the election effort was to leak to the media on polling day that he'd be announcing when he's leaving next week. I know he's always been considered an electoral asset, but that's ridiculous.
A period in opposition will be good for them in order to reflect and develop some coherent ideas, policies and beliefs. It may take a while for them to get used to it though. Meanwhile, the SNP rule... pending coalition talks that is.