When Alex Salmond lost the Scottish independence referendum, he sought to console himself and the ranks of the vanquished by declaring ‘the dream shall never die’.
It was the salve that soothed the disappointment of a nationalist movement. But today that dream appears to lie in ruins.
Two years ago, the SNP swept all before it, claiming 56 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies at Westminster; on last night, they lost almost 40 per cent of those same seats. The reversal cannot be overstated. Salmond, the SNP’s former leader, lost in Gordon. Angus Robertson, their leader in the Commons, lost in Moray. The party was thrown out in East Dunbartonshire after a two-year incumbency and in Banff and Buchan, where the party has been immovable since Salmond wrestled the seat from Sir Albert McQuarrie, the Tories’ ‘Buchan Bulldog’, in 1987. The Conservatives now dominate the north east and the south of Scotland, with a good chunk of the centre, too. Meanwhile, the SNP recorded the lowest share of the vote for a winning party (36.9 per cent) since 1983 and the lowest seat tally (35) since 1951.