In the aftermath of the election it’s been easy to craft a narrative that it ended up being Nationalist v Unionist.
The SNP, naturally, represented the Nationalist corner whereas the Conservatives were the most successful in tapping into Unionist sentiments. Labour, it’s said, suffered because it couldn’t provide a convincing answer on the ‘national question’.
But what if that’s not the case? What if, instead of being about the constitution, Scotland’s current political alignment is the natural Left v Right that we’re used to?
We believe that Scottish voters are probably the canniest in the UK. That they’ve grown used to electing one set of politicians to represent them at Westminster and another – or since the 2015 General Election the same – set to represent them at Holyrood.
Independence now holds no fear for the average Scottish punter. While the referendum in 2014 has seen support for independence harden it hasn’t increased to a significant extent. So voters in Scotland know they can vote for the SNP, and Westminster, safe in the knowledge that even if there’s another referendum they reserve the right to say No.
So returning to the point at the beginning of this blog, what if this election result is about Left v Right?
To us, the more instructive result on election night was Labour’s loss of seats. Labour have been on a downward trajectory for some time and perhaps still have some way to fall. But their fall has been counter-balanced with the upward trajectory of the SNP over a similar period.
There’s little doubting that the SNP have the strongest frontbench of the parties in Holyrood and can call on a deeper bench. With this in mind they’re happy for the SNP to continue to form the government.
But we think that Scottish voters might just have decided that a left of centre party holding to account a left of centre government just doesn’t work.
We think that the voters have decided that you can’t have both a strong SNP and a strong Labour party competing against each other when it’s evident that on so many issues they’re almost hand in glove.
Time will tell if this vote was about the constitution. But we wouldn’t rule out this election being the start of the new normal for Scottish politics: a centre left party v a centre right party.