Lesley Riddoch: Has Scotland reached ‘peak independence’?

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Does the General Election result mean an end to prospects of a second independence referendum?

Does the election of 13 avowedly Unionist Tory MPs and the loss of veterans like Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson mean Scotland has finally reached “peak independence”?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow as counting got under way. Picture: PA

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow as counting got under way. Picture: PA

It really is too soon to say.

The SNP’s current case for independence is based on two presumptions – a near permanent Tory majority at Westminster and the likelihood Scots will want a choice before being dragged out of Europe against the will of the majority. Both presumptions are still valid.

Ex Labour voters may have drifted back from the SNP in the final days of the campaign, attracted by an avowedly socialist manifesto and Jeremy Corbyn’s affable personality. But even with a truly appalling performance by Theresa May, that combination wasn’t enough.

The forces of conservatism in the UK (and indeed inside the Labour Party itself) are formidable – though I’ll grant you, it’s hard to say how long a damaged Prime Minister can remain at the helm aided by Democratic Unionists whose intransigence has contributed to the collapse of their own power-sharing government.

But what are the odds on a Progressive Alliance now? Are left of centre voters in Scotland willing to hang around within the union and give Labour one more try – maybe in another five years time?

• READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Indyref2 was ‘undoubtedly’ factor in election

The only certain way to get progressive control over taxation, energy policy, trade, EU relations, defence and foreign affairs is to bring them under the control of the Scottish Parliament. And that still means independence.

It might be as unpalatable right now as a hefty dose of Cod Liver Oil - and yet as conducive to Scotland’s long-term political health.

Nicola Sturgeon can easily put the policy on the back burner over the summer recess and focus – as she already has done – on trying to encourage a new Tory stance on Brexit and recommitting herself to fixing the NHS, education and new Scottish social security system.

Meanwhile a few things are true.

The SNP is still the leading party at local, Scottish and UK Government level – and the hung parliament at Westminster could give the new, smaller SNP cohort greater clout than the mighty 56 MPs sent to London in 2015.

Scots from left and right have now warned the SNP about the need for bold, structural solutions to problems of under-performance within the domestic Scottish realm they control – and that’s timely.

I’d guess few folk in Scotland’s new Conservative seats support the Dementia Tax, hard-Brexit, privatising the NHS or a trade deal with Donald Trump.

It may be hard – even for the redoubtable Ruth Davidson - to keep these voters on side while talk of #scotref recedes and Brexit realities bite. Likewise, Jeremy Corbyn will now have to assert his brand of socialism on the Labour Party – and it wont sit easily with much of Scottish Labour.

So every political party in Scotland faces a rocky road ahead – but maybe that’s what scunnered voters intended.