‘There was huge change in the air ...’

Westminster
Westminster

A beautiful sunrise spread across the calm waters of the Forth at Kirkcaldy harbour as the country awoke to a brand new political landscape.

Overnight Fife turned yellow as SNP made an unprecedented, historic clean sweep of the four parliamentary seats.

It was the stuff of dreams - even better than the polls suggested.

Things, said Peter Grant, have changed forever.

The rout - and that’s exactly what it was - started with his victory in Glenrothes.

Kirkcaldy toppled within 15 minutes, and by the time the hour was up, north-east Fife had gone too as Stephen Gethins emerged victorious, along with Dunfermline where Douglas Chapman ousted Thomas Docherty.

The talk of seats too close to call proved wrong. The results were actually emphatic. Clear blue water between SNP and Labour in every single one as massive majorities were shredded.

David Torrance MSP - whose own election secured the SNP’s first majority at the Scottish Parliament in 2011 - spoke of a sea change of opinions on the doorstep.

Houses he had visited time after time at every single election, where he knew the residents were ultra Labour, were switching to SNP.

‘’When you went into a place like Templehall which was a Labour heartland, you could tell there was a huge change in the air,’’ he said. ‘’But we didn’t realise it was as big as this.’’

It was a similar story in Glenrothes where Peter Grant spoke of third and fourth generation Labour supporters - the core of the party’s vote - crossing the divide.

Their reasons were many, but the referendum, and Labour’s joint ‘Better Together’ campaign with the Tories was, he said, the final straw for many.

It opened the door to the jibe of ‘red Tories’ which stuck.

He also insisted Labour’s own campaign was a turn -off. It was too negative, and it demonised the SNP.

‘’If you start badmouthing and demonising people who are respected, regardless of their politics, then it’s a very dangerous game.’’ he said.

For Labour, there were no crumbs of comfort.

This was like watching a car crash in slow motion. With half the Kirkcaldy boxes open, SNP were 50-36 ahead - the sands were already shifting.

Activists spoke of some Tories switching their vote to Labour in a tactical bid to thwart the SNP, but the impact was almost zero.

They faced a national swing packed with momentum, and there was little any of their candidates could do.

They arrived late in the hall - well after 1,00 a.m. There was applause for Melanie Ward and then Kenny Selbie from the core of campaigners, but it sounded like a balloon deflating.

They knew the results that were coming their way.

Kenny Selbie acknowledged the scale of the losses not just in Fife but across the country.

‘’People have voted for change - and we need to reflect on that.’’ he said.

Across the hall, one jubilant SNP member simply said ‘’we smashed it.’’

A ground breaking, history making election which will reverberate for a long time to come.

We awoke to a brand new dawn.