Sturgeon pledges referendum as SNP celebrates record breaking election win

Beyond England In the media

A jubilant SNP is celebrating a record breaking landslide victory in Scotland after recording the “highest number of votes, highest number of constituency seats ever, [and the] highest vote share ever in a Scottish election”.

“You’d have to go back to 1966 to find an example of a party securing such a high % of the vote in Westminster,” tweeted BBC Newsnight’s policy editor, Lewis Goodall.

The historic result shows Scotland is split right down the middle on the issue of independence with the pro-independence SNP and Green party likely to achieve around 49% of the constituency vote and around 51% of the list vote (when Alex Salmond’s Alba party is counted).

The constituency results show that only pro-independence parties increased their share of the vote – SNP +1.2 to 47.7% and the Scottish Green party essentially doubling their share with +0.7 to record 1.3%. Their gains are immediately seen in the unionist parties’ losses  – Conservatives 21.9% (-0.1), Labour 21.6% (-1.0) Lib Dem 6.9% (-0.9).

Sturgeon hails ‘record breaking’ victory

In a victory speech pledging Scottish voters will decide Scotland’s future and not politicians, Sturgeon recalled that in 2007 the SNP secured “just one more seat than the Labour party.”
Now, 14 years later the SNP is re-elected “for a fourth consecutive term as Scotland’s government” with a “record breaking” victory, the first minister said. “We have won 62 constituency seats – a record number and an incredible 85% of the total.

“We haven’t just held on to every constituency we won in 2016 – we’ve also gained seats from both Labour and the Tories. And while the constituency vote shares of Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems are all down, the SNP has recorded our best ever share of the constituency vote.

“Indeed, we have won more votes and a higher share of the votes in the constituency ballot than any party in the history of devolution. This election result is – by any standard – an extraordinary and historic achievement.”

‘Results south of the border reveal an important truth about Scotland’

Sturgeon repeated the pledges made – including a “new National Care Service”, a “Youth Guarantee” to secure opportunities for young people, as well as “more houses, better schools and an unwavering commitment to lifting children out of poverty.”

However, the election “results south of the border reveal an important truth about Scotland and the rest of the UK,” the first minister said, opining that the “majority of people in Scotland back a progressive, inclusive, outward looking vision for the future of our nation.

“And yet we are facing many more years of right-wing Brexit-obsessed Tory governments that we don’t vote for, taking us in a direction we haven’t chosen.

“And that brings into sharp focus the key question we posed at this election – how do we best secure the kind of country we want to build?

“And it is why – just as we said in the election – the people in Scotland must have the right to decide our own future when the Covid crisis has passed.

“This is now a matter of fundamental democratic principle.”

‘Voters are not a side-show’

Sturgeon dismissed “opposition parties and some commentators” who “are desperately trying  to rewrite the basic of rules of democracy” by talking about “what they call ‘SNP demands” for an independence referendum.”

“And I hear about Boris Johnson refusing to give in to these demands. And what supposedly clever manoeuvres Westminster might be planning.

“All of this treats voters in Scotland as if they simply don’t matter – like they are just a side-show. But voters are not a side-show. You – not me or Boris Johnson – are the people who matter.”

Sturgeon affirmed the SNP’s mandate by setting out “what Scotland voted for on Thursday” and how it has resulted in pro-independence parties having a majority in the Scottish parliament. Parties which “stood on a clear commitment to an independence referendum within the next parliamentary term”, the precise timing to be decided “by a simple majority of MSPs in the Scottish parliament.”

“So in no way can a referendum be described as just a demand of me or the SNP,” said Sturgeon. “It is a commitment made to the people by a majority of the MSPs who will take their seats in our national parliament next week.”

‘What I promised is what I intend to deliver’

Sturgeon addressed the prime minister’s opposition to a referendum, with a salvo insisting that given “the outcome of this election, there is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future.

“If there is such an attempt it will demonstrate conclusively that the UK is not a partnership of equals and that – astonishingly – Westminster no longer sees the UK as a voluntary union of nations.

“That in itself would be a very powerful argument for independence.”

Scotland’s first minister said the focus now is to “lead Scotland through the pandemic and to keep people safe” while kick-starting and driving the “recovery with an ambitious and transformative programme for government.

“And, yes, when the crisis has passed, it is to give people in Scotland the right to choose their future.

“All of that is what I promised and all of that is what I intend to deliver.”

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