Scottish elections 2021: Scots set to experience electoral Groundhog Day

For the most important election in Scotland’s history post-devolution, the campaign ahead of the Holyrood elections on May 6 is a stagnant pool of political apathy.

Gone are those enjoyable gaffes and confrontations on the streets, replaced instead by turgid Zoom interviews and speeches alongside the daily, painstakingly crafted, socially-distanced photo-ops.

It’s a torpor that was felt on the TV debates and as Scotland opens up from lockdown, is feeding down to the voters.

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So contented are the Scottish public with the SNP government they wish not to provide it with an improved majority after 14 years, but instead send exactly the same number of MSPs back to Holyrood, the latest Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman suggests.

The Holyrood chamber could be much the same despite election day
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Douglas Ross will be the happiest with his improved poll numbers, but even then the Scottish Conservatives have barely made a dent in the SNP hegemony and are set to gain just one seat.

Anas Sarwar, meanwhile, will be cursing he has had weeks rather than years in his role, leading an equally stagnant Scottish Labour who are set to lose seats at a Holyrood election for the sixth consecutive time, according to this survey.

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Not even the Green Party, who are the only party to make any serious gains, are taking Scotland by storm.

Instead they sit a handful of percentage points above their 2016 result and will return eight MSPs, while the Liberal Democrats have done nothing more than tread water and are set to return five MSPs.

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Spare a thought for Alex Salmond, polling in this survey at the same level as the Abolish the Scottish Parliament party and UKIP.

Unless there is a radical shift, the former first minister’s attempts to return to frontline politics will have failed catastrophically.

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It is symptomatic of an election that has failed to engage the public imagination and one where parties have struggled to connect with the national mood of a country exhausted by a year of lockdown and political bickering.

It is not as if the opportunity for a cataclysmic change to the political landscape is missing. The SNP are promising indyref2 while Alba promise independence immediately, but voters seem to have switched off and are not sold by constitutional strategy, nor domestic agendas.

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Instead, we look set for electoral Groundhog Day.

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