Contemplating a remarkable election

Theresa May Image copyright AFP
Image caption Theresa May faces a period of introspection

Despite briefly studying theology at university, it is not often these days, in truth, that I contemplate the divine.

However, I was drawn by the reaction of the Kirk to this remarkable election.

The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society, advocated "prayerful reflection" as a response to the uncertainty provoked by the events overnight.

Both Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon are now set to embark upon a period of introspection, from different motivations.

I am unable to report whether prayer will be involved.

But their contemplation will be intense.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party are on the rise

Mrs May, the vicar's daughter, will undoubtedly be pondering Macmillan-style events. Her motivations for calling an early election were several and varied, mostly driven by partisan advantage.

The notion of "strengthening her hand" in Brexit negotiations never seemed particularly credible to me.

Were we really to believe that the other 27 EU nations would sideline their own national interests just because Mrs May won a bigger majority in the Commons?

Nevertheless, that was advanced as an objective. More, Mrs May envisaged a substantial Commons majority giving her a personal mandate and an opportunity to get her policies, Brexit included, past a potentially sceptical House.

In truth, she expected and anticipated a landslide over Jeremy Corbyn, who was supposed to play the role of pantomime villain, to be hissed and treated with contumely.

She has now failed in all three aims.

Open disbelief

Not a single one has been achieved. From a standing start, in a self-imposed political contest, that is a simply stunning clean sweep.

In coping with this self-generated crisis, Mrs May said the nation needed "certainty".

That sound you heard in the distance was Tories guffawing in open disbelief.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon is also considering options

Does she really think, you can also hear them muttering, that she can get away with replaying a record, a single track from a failed campaign?

Seldom has a political manoeuvre backfired so spectacularly.

Let us not forget. Theresa May has thrown away a working Commons majority and is now dependent on Ulster's DUP, if she is to survive at all.

A few home thoughts too for Nicola Sturgeon. She promises to reflect upon the election - including the role which the prospect of indyref2 played in those lost SNP votes.

Yes, the SNP won the election in Scotland. Arithmetic and every Nationalist will tell us so.

Prime focus

But they lost votes, they lost 21 seats and they markedly lost momentum.

Aides say Ms Sturgeon is genuinely considering options, authentically rethinking - while urging others in Scotland to do the same.

In the immediate term, she is demanding a role in Brexit negotiations which she says must now be rescheduled and repeating her offer to oust Mrs May, if the parliamentary votes can be found. Those issues are the prime focus.

But what about indyref2? She will certainly not abandon the aim of independence - nor the calculation that it would be brought about via a referendum.

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I also think it unlikely that she will formally renounce the proposed timetable for indyref2 - which is at the end of the Brexit process.

Perhaps, rather, she might seek to clarify the detail of that timetable.

In practice, though, indyref2 is hobbled. It may not be "dead", as Ruth Davidson declared. But it is certainly ailing.

Momentum is not with the SNP. It is with the advocates of Union - Labour, the Liberal Democrats and especially the Tories, who all made significant gains.

For Labour, the result is a huge relief. Many inside the party thought Jeremy Corbyn a loser in advance, Kezia Dugdale being among them.

Upbeat and victorious

Now they are on the rise. Although, never forget, they did not win, either in Scotland or across the UK.

The Liberal Democrats also recorded gains, winning seats where they were identified as the core contenders for toppling the SNP.

And for the Tories, the spoils of victory in Scotland. Soured a little by the UK outcome - or, perhaps perversely, sweetened in contrast.

After years of apology, Uriah Heep style, they are upbeat and victorious.

Truly, a remarkable night.

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