SNP losses put us ‘back in a multi-party Scotland’, says Aberdeen academic

Winners: Jubilant Conservatives at the AECC.
Winners: Jubilant Conservatives at the AECC.

An Aberdeen academic said a “strong campaign” from the Conservatives against independence was a factor in the party’s resurrection in the North-east.

Malcolm Harvey, teaching fellow in politics at the University of Aberdeen, had previously forecasted that the nationalists would hold on to their seven seats across the area.

But speaking after the Tories picked up six of the seats, ousting some big SNP names in the process, he said the nationalist party’s victory in 2015 was always going to be a difficult task to repeat.

Describing the moment he saw an exit poll on election night predicting the outcome, he said: “There was a sharp intake of breath – it was the same two years ago, that can’t be right – but it was or near enough.”

Dr Harvey said of the result: “I think whatever way you look at 2015 that’s a massively high watermark for the SNP, it was always going to be difficult to replicate that.

“The circumstances of the past couple of years with Brexit and the constitutional position has changed the dynamic. In 2015 voters perhaps saw it as an opportunity to maybe back up the independence referendum,

“We do not want independence but want a strong group of MPs and MSPs that are theoretically at least going to stand up for Scotland.

“This time we have had Brexit and talk of a second independence referendum, the Conservatives have played on that considerably.

“There is a feeling that people are fed up of voting, this is the seventh time in the last three years that we have been voting.

“It makes sense that people are fed up of politicians not sorting things out for us, that’s maybe one of the messages to take from it. Politicians have to go and do a job now.

“The Conservatives actually have taken that message, and people like Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson are the victims of that – a very strong and co-ordinated campaign against independence.”

Dr Harvey added: “The picture is much more mixed, we are very much back in a multi-party Scotland.”