The recent local elections in Scotland produced one clear winner - the SNP and one clear runner-up - Labour. Below is the final tally (with 3 councillors from Dunoon still to be elected) of councillors won by each party, with changes from 2007 in brackets.
SNP 424 (+61)
Labour 394 (+46)
Conservatives 115 (-28)
Liberal Democrats 71 (-95)
Greens 14 (+6)
SSP 1 (-)
Others 201 (+8)
So not only did the SNP secure the most seats, they also enjoyed the biggest gains. These figures come from the Scot Goes Pop blog and the full article can be read here. This is by any standards quite a remarkable achievement. To get an indication of just how good this performance is by the SNP, we need look no further than the Tory party. In the local elections in England and Wales the Tories did very, very badly losing over 400 councillors. Many Tories have tried to excuse this poor showing by pointing out that the Tories have been in government in Westminster for two years and that this is just a mid-term blip. Yet the SNP has been in government in Scotland for five years and is still making gains!
If you relied on the mainstream media, including alas the BBC, for your information you could be forgiven for failing to spot this great SNP victory. For all the press and the BBC have gone out of their way to portray the results as a victory for Labour and a shattering setback for the SNP. For details of the misleading, if not outright lying by the media see this post from Wings Over Scotland.
Not only have the media tried to present the outcome as a setback for the SNP, they have ferociously tried to somehow turn these local elections into a dress rehearsal for the referendum on Independence. The Daily Mail for example had that well known ultra Unionist, Gerald Warner screaming: “If they can’t take Glasgow, how can the Nationalists hope to rip Scotland out of the Union?” Quite why Glasgow should be singled out as opposed to the overall results in Scotland as a whole is never quite explained. Even in Glasgow, which Labour did retain, the SNP still managed to improve their position on the council. If this is the best the Unionists can come up with then they are in serious trouble. For this is the none too subtle subtext to all the media reporting. Talk up the Unionist vote, even at the expense of the truth. We have reached the sorry state that arch right wing Tories are now cheering Labour victories. Anything to preserve the Union. Whether lying and scaremongering is the best way to save the Union is debatable, but that they have to resort to it does show how desperate the Unionists are.