Alex Salmond says “Team Scotland has won” as the SNP takes control of the Scottish Parliament. It is a result Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, in Edinburgh, describes as “seismic”.
The SNP has won 69 seats and outright control of Holyrood in a historic result, unseating many senior Labour politicians.
Party leader and First Minister Alex Salmond has pledged to “make the nation proud” as Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said he would step down in the autumn following his party’s defeat.
A triumphant Mr Salmond said: “This party, the Scottish party, the national party, carries your hope. We shall carry it carefully and make the nation proud.”
And speaking to supporters in Kirkcaldy – where the winning 65th seat was confirmed – he said: “We have a majority of the seats, but no monopoly on wisdom and we’ll welcome support across parliament as we seek to pursue these people for the benefit of our people and to ensure jobs in our economy.”
I believe the Scottish National Party won this election because Scotland wants to travel in hope and to aim high. Alex Salmond
He added: “I believe the Scottish National Party won this election because Scotland wants to travel in hope and to aim high. Scotland has chosen to believe in itself and a shared capacity to build a fair society. The nation wants to be better. We will govern fairly and wisely.”
“Team Scotland has won this election.”
The win could mean a referendum on Scottish independence within the next five years. The triumph is all the more surprising because the electoral system in Scotland, set up in 1999, was designed to prevent any party from achieving an overall majority.
Channel 4 News’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who is in Scotland, said: “What happened here is seismic… The defeat of Labour in Scotland is stunning in scale.”
Read more from Krishnan in his blog: A stunning result in Scotland
Leader Alex Salmond, who won Aberdeenshire East with around 64 per cent of the vote, said wins across the country meant the SNP can now properly be described as the “national party”.
The SNP gained seats in traditional Labour strongholds including Glasgow and the west of Scotland. Candidates once thought of as potential Labour frontbenchers lost out, including former ministers Andy Kerr, Tom McCabe and Frank McAveety.
The SNP has 69 seats, with Labour trailing on 37 MSPs. The Conservatives had 15, the Lib Dems five and the Scottish Greens two. Independent MSP Margo MacDonald was also returned to parliament.
This party, the Scottish party, the national party, carries your hope. SNP leader Alex Salmond
The win is further symbolic because Kirkcaldy, the seat which tipped the SNP into the majority, was considered a solid Labour area, with the overlapping Westminster constituency held by former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Labour leader Iain Gray said: “It is now clear that the SNP has won the election, so early this morning I spoke with Alex Salmond to congratulate him on his victory.
“Labour has lost many talented representatives and it seems very likely that Labour’s new and returning MSPs will play their part in the democratic process in the Scottish Parliament from opposition, but will do so with gusto. Labour’s MSPs will work constructively with the new Scottish Government to create jobs and tackle unemployment wherever we can.”
The Lib Dems saw their share of the vote in Scotland slump as it did across the rest of Britain. Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott held on to Shetland with a reduced share, but his party was beaten in areas where it had previously enjoyed a comfortable majority.
The SNP’s win means a referendum on independence could be held within the next five years.
Professor John Curtice from the University of Strathclyde told Channel 4 News that the referendum was a key question for Alex Salmond and his party.
“The SNP face a paradox – the more effective government they provide in Holyrood, the happier people in Scotland are with the union,” he said.
If a referendum is called and defeated, many feel that would kill off the question of Scottish independence for a generation.