In the end, it was easy – the margin of victory for Labour larger than most people had dared to predict.
Little did former MP Margaret Ferrier know when she took a covid test on 26 September 2020 that – as it proved positive, and she inexplicably went about her life as normal – she was setting in train a series of events that would lead to Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar talking of a “seismic” change in UK and Scottish politics.
It must be said that one by-election win does not a change of government make – our political history is peppered with eye-catching by-election results that made little or no difference in the grand scheme of things.
Importantly, that is clearly understood in senior Labour circles – they will celebrate this success to motivate the party and inspire voters to join them on their journey to government. However, complacency is Labour’s principal opponent now, and the matter of winning the next election is far from settled.
While Labour celebrates (albeit briefly) and builds momentum, spare a thought if you will for the beleaguered leaders of governments north and south of the border.
For Humza Yousaf in Scotland, the pride he must have felt at being put on Time magazine’s front cover this week means nothing today. He’s in trouble, and his expression of disappointment is an understatement that will do little to temper concerns in his party that he is presiding over a period of decline that ends in defeat next year. However, some will argue that a bloody nose at this point in the electoral cycle can be treated before it becomes a bigger problem.
Perhaps implausibly, the Tories still believe they can overturn what YouGov recorded yesterday as a 21-point lead for Labour. We can be sure they will throw the kitchen sink at it, but the share of the limelight competition they held in Manchester last week suggests they know it’s over, and that a period of opposition and in-fighting looms. Today’s result in Scotland does nothing to help – it might even be described as seismic.
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