I’m trying to write this with a little less hysteria than I fear I may have given into at several points during the early hours of the morning.  If you were with us for some of the incredibly impressive gains for the SNP, you’ll know what I mean – and I apologise for getting swept up in the hype.  I’m hoping the cold light of day will help with this – though given I’ve only had 3 hours sleep in the last 36, I might be putting too much hope in the restorative powers of a shower and a cup of tea.  (Edit – I gave up writing this on Friday and went to bed, so hopefully its better for that!).

I think the first thing to say is this:  we have a PR system in the Scottish Parliament which was designed (and described) as a means to stop the SNP ever getting a majority in Holyrood.  That hasn’t worked – and the SNP will have the first majority in the history of the Scottish Parliament.

We also have to put this into some kind of historic context.  Since the 1950s, Labour have dominated Glasgow, the West of Scotland and Fife and racked up massive majorities in their Westminster seats in these areas over the years.  That UK seat record translated into similar domination of constituencies in the Scottish Parliament for the first couple of terms.  The SNP made inroads in particular areas in 2007 but Labour heartlands in Glasgow, the West and the former mining constituencies of Fife remained largely untouched.  Which is why the result is even more remarkable.  The SNP have GAINED 32 constituencies. That’s an incredible stat.

Consider this further.  The SNP now hold 53 of the 73 FPTP constituencies. Of the 20 they do not hold, Labour have 15 of them, the Conservatives 3 and the Lib Dems 2.

Of the Labour-held seats, only the two which they notionally gained from the Conservatives (Dumfriesshire and Eastwood) do not have the SNP in second place.  The SNP moved into second place in all three of the Conservative-held seats while it was only the participation of independents in both the Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands seats which bumped the SNP out of second place in those constituencies – perhaps even costing them the opportunity of winning Liam McArthur’s Orkney seat.  The bottom line is the following:

The SNP are first in 53 seats.  They are now second – and the main challenger – in a further 16.  Only in four constituencies in Scotland are the SNP not first or second.  That’s a massive sea change – and taps into what Jeff was talking about pre-election with regards the number of seats the SNP had moved into second in in 2007.

Not that it really mattered in some places.  In Edinburgh Central, in Edinburgh Pentlands, in Dunfermline and in North East Fife the SNP came from a notional third place to win, and in Edinburgh Southern they came from FOURTH.  I suppose that just emphasises how massive their victory was.

I want to keep this post short-ish because I’ve a lot of points to make about the election, and I’ll get around to them all eventually – but this is really just to try and get a handle on the size of the SNP’s win.  They converted a lot of second places into wins, but they also took advantage of weak opposition in a further 5 seats where they were not best placed to win.  And they succeeded in achieving massive increases in share of the vote – up to and including the TWENTY PERCENT increase which won Strathkelvin & Bearsden for Fiona McLeod.

I think to put the election in even more perspective – consider how little changed in last year’s Westminster election in Scotland.  No seats changed hands, and Labour increased their already substantial majorities in several seats across Scotland.  When it comes to elections, we tend to be small-c conservative with regards change – we know what we like and we like what we know.

Thursday changed that.  It also emphasised how increasingly educated the Scottish electorate has become with regards multi-level elections.  Perhaps that’s as big a story as the fact the SNP have a majority.

Perhaps not.  Nothing’s going to take away from the size of that story.  More analysis to come in the following days.