Scottish National Party Hammered as Labour Set to Win Big

(Bloomberg) -- The Scottish National Party was on course for its worst election result in more than a decade, according to a UK-wide exit poll late Thursday, further undermining its drive for another independence referendum.

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The SNP was predicted to take just 10 of Scotland’s 57 districts as Keir Starmer’s Labour Party looked set to score an emphatic victory nationwide. Results are due to come in overnight, when it will become clear which party has the most Scottish seats in the House of Commons. One caveat: the poll has fewer sampling points in Scotland than elsewhere.

“There are lots of seats which are marginal between Labour and the SNP,” John Curtice, the UK’s leading psephologist and a key part of the polling team, told the BBC. “Even if we have just underestimated the SNP’s performance relative to Labour by a little bit, then that SNP number will go up.”

If the poll is even half-accurate, it caps a torrid couple of years for the SNP. The party’s leadership has been in turmoil, police have been investigating its finances and its running of the Scottish government has come under increasing criticism.


For John Swinney, the SNP stalwart who became leader in May to steady the ship, the outcome would all but kill off his plan to press for another vote on independence, something both the Conservatives and Labour have repeatedly rejected anyway. But party officials sounded a defiant note.

“Obviously we’re not going to have a new vote now, but independence support is still at about 50%,” Angus Robertson, the SNP’s cabinet secretary, said in an interview. “It is going to happen eventually.”

The SNP’s high-water mark was in 2015 when it won 56 of Scotland’s then 59 Westminster seats in the wake of a referendum on leaving the UK months earlier. Scottish voters chose by 55% to 45% to remain in the three-centuries-old union with England and Wales, but the campaign helped cement the SNP as the dominant political force in Scotland.

Much of the wrangling since the UK left the European Union has been over whether Scotland has the right to hold another vote after opposing Brexit.

The SNP now has two years before it faces a Scottish Parliamentary election in 2026. Labour will seek to capitalize on the growth in its support to take control of Scotland’s devolved administration in Edinburgh.


While backing for independence has remained largely unchanged in recent years — Scots are still roughly split down the middle — the SNP has seen its support slump and the implosion of a governing partnership with the Scottish Greens. The latter led to the resignation of Swinney’s predecessor, Humza Yousaf, earlier this year.

On top of that, a police investigation into SNP finances led to the arrest of senior party members, including former leader and first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Her husband has been charged with embezzlement.

If the exit poll is correct, the SNP would have fewer seats than the Liberal Democrats and the right-wing Reform Party led by Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, as well as Labour and the Conservatives.

--With assistance from Greg Ritchie.

(Adds comment from SNP legislator in sixth paragraph.)

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