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A matter of perception

Brian Taylor | 01:43 UK time, Friday, 7 May 2010

UPDATE 0655 BST: All 58 Scottish seats that are declaring overnight are in. No seats change hands - with, again, the exception of the by-election reversals. By comparison with last general election, status quo on seats.

UPDATE 0455 BST: As forecast here, Alex Salmond is now openly challenging the Tories' mandate to govern Scotland.

On the respect agenda, he said it had to be proven in deed, not through rhetoric.

By this, I presume that the FM means that fiscal autonomy should be delivered to the Scottish Parliament.

UPDATE 0431 BST: Is there a Celtic factor at play?

No. Scotland's results are distinctive but the picture in Wales is comparable to that in England.

In Wales, the Labour vote is down while the Tories' vote is up. In Wales, the Lib Dems have added votes at much the same pace as in England.

Scotland? Labour up. Tories up in share - but only a wee bit. LibDems down.

More, Plaid are down in Wales, SNP up in Scotland.

UPDATE 0425 BST: Where's your "respect agenda" now? Looks like the Tories will have but a single seat in Scotland.

David Cameron said that, as PM, he would offer "respect" to the devolved settlement and the first minister of Scotland. David Mundell has just confirmed that, stressing mutual respect.

But would Alex Salmond reciprocate? His strategy is to govern consensually within the existing structure while arguing, simultaneously, for independence.

But might he not be more tempted to challenge the Tories' mandate to govern Scotland?

UPDATE 0410 BST: Another one bites the dust. If there is to be a Tory gain, it won't be West Aberdeenshire.

Alex Johnstone for the Tories recorded a swing - but not enough to take the seat from Sir Robert Smith of the Lib Dems.

Still no change in seats in Scotland - those by-elections apart.

UPDATE 0405 BST: Labour comfortably holds Dumfries and Galloway, despite challenge from ex-MP Peter Duncan.

Those Tory targets are shrinking fast. If the Tories form a government, looks like David Mundell would be Scottish secretary.

Unless, of course, the post went to another party.

Or was abolished. (Not Tory policy - but might it be the policy of any partners?)

UPDATE 0350 BST: And he's back. David Mundell retains his vast Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency.

Forecasts of a Tory-free Scotland are, as Mr Mundell himself reckoned, shown to be exaggerated.

But, as things stand, doesn't look as if he will be joined by many or indeed any buddies.

UPDATE 0339 BST: And so at least one MSP will have to remain contented with the Scottish Parliament.

John Lamont of the Tories fails to take Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from the LibDems.

He added votes - but Michael Moore for the LibDems also added to his share. So net swing to the Tories very small.

Will any seat change hands in Scotland tonight - by-election reversals apart?

Alex Salmond forecasting that SNP result in terms of share will be best since 1970s.

UPDATE 0313 BST: The chancellor of the exchequer - that is, the incumbent of Number 11 in the last parliament - is a cautious individual.

He frets perpetually about his constituency. Despite that, he has now been returned comfortably, registering swings in his direction.

Catch that comment from David Cameron?

He is saying that Labour has lost its mandate. He is not yet claiming the right to adopt that mandate in their stead.

At this stage, he is content to counter Labour claims that they would be able to remain in office.

UPDATE 0259 BST: Quote from Douglas Alexander: "What you need to govern in the United Kingdom is a majority in the House of Commons."

In other words, it need not be the largest party which governs.

Again, constitutionally accurate - as my little history piece on the telly reflected.

Labour, incidentally, is currently standing at 16 net losses. The Tories are standing at 17 net gains.

UPDATE 0244 BST: Again clock that divide north and south of the border.

Glance at Basildon South, for example. A swing from Labour to the Tories of 7.5% as the Conservatives take the seat.

In Scotland, the Tories appear to have been pegged back and it is Labour that is registering improvements in share.

Jim Murphy has been returned with big majority in East Ren. Actually registered swing from the Tories.

All the talk of a Tory gain comes to nothing.

UPDATE 0218 BST: As billed, Stewart Hosie returned in Dundee East.

Indeed, he registers a swing in his favour.

Overall, though, obvious that the party will not achieve target of 20 seats, as acknowledged now by Mike Russell.

UPDATE 0213 BST: That is a remarkable result for Labour in Dunfermline.

The widespread view - and I mean widespread among politicians as well as pundits - was that Willie Rennie had done enough to entrench himself since the by-election.

He put on votes from the last General Election but not enough to win.

Elsewhere, MSP number two heads for Westminster as Margaret Curran wins Glasgow East for Labour.

That means both by-election defeats for Labour return to the party in this general election.

John Mason secured a swing in his favour but not by enough to hold the seat.

UPDATE 0210 BST: And another thing.

Say Labour attempts to form an administration, despite slipping in the polls. Say they succeed.

Say that the Tories have more seats in England than Labour. Would the Tories then argue that the people of England must live with the outcome of a British general election?

Logically, given their stance re Scotland, they would.

Constitutionally, they would have little option.

But I can imagine they - or perhaps, more accurately their voters - might feel sore.

UPDATE 0205 BST: And so Cathy Jamieson takes Kilmarnock. Swing from SNP to Labour of 3.5%.

The first MSP tonight to switch to Westminster.

Turning to Dundee, on the swing in West, the SNP would lose East.

Think, however, that the incumbency and profile for Stewart Hosie may well counter that.

0143 BST: And so Gordon Brown is duly re-elected as the MP for Kirkcaldy. But will he still be PM by the weekend?

Signs are that Labour is doing relatively well in Scotland - but that there are swings against Labour across England.

Members of Team Brown are stressing that he would be entitled to attempt to form an administration even if he has lost his lead.

Constitutionally, that is absolutely correct. But, in terms of momentum, it presumably depends upon numbers - and upon perception.

Would the Liberal Democrats, for example, really be prepared to return to power a party which, across Britain, had palpably lost support?


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