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Alex Salmond leads SNP to blistering election victory


SNP leader Alex Salmond

SNP leader Alex Salmond

SNP leader Alex Salmond

The SNP's surge in traditional Labour territory put Alex Salmond on the brink of securing a major victory - and confounded political commentators.

Predictions in the run-up to the Holyrood election placed the SNP as front-runners, but with a strong challenge from Labour, particularly in key battleground seats.

As the scale of Labour's losses became clear, including right across Glasgow, questions were raised about the party's election tactics and the surprise surge in SNP votes.

Professor Murray Pittock, a vice principal of Glasgow University, and author of The Road to Independence?, suggested Labour may have been guilty of complacency in seats the party did not expect to lose.

He said: "The scale of it is a surprise, particularly the fact that so many first-past-the-post seats have fallen.

"One thing that is very clear is that Labour were expecting a tough battle and hoped to maybe unseat Kenny MacAskill, for example."

Mr MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, was predicted to be fighting against a Labour advantage in Edinburgh Eastern, but ended up with a 2,233 majority. Similar pictures emerged across the country.

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Professor Pittock said: "They weren't expecting to lose those seats. They couldn't have been working too hard.

"Even in Glasgow, people really didn't believe. Maybe they thought Nicola Sturgeon would get in, perhaps seats like Clydesdale would go, but they really didn't believe all these seats would go.

"They've had their potential front bench wiped out. They're going to have to completely rebuild."

Even in seats that Labour held, the SNP recorded swings in its favour. And the party replicated that trend in seats previously held by the Liberal Democrats and Tories.

Prof Pittock said Labour misjudged the approach to the election, adding: "Labour has steadily treated Holyrood as a B-team, just somebody that people should vote for to give the Tories a bloody nose. Labour was negative."

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