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An unexpected general election and unpredictable campaigns

UK Prime Minister, Theresa May called for the snap general election on 8 June Photo: PA

It was the general election no-one expected, which has delivered the unexpected.

The general election everyone thought would be predictable that turned out to be unpredictable.

The general election that many assumed would be unremarkable, that turned out to be remarkable.

When Theresa May surprised us all by making her announcement all the analysis - including from this writer - said it would be a walkover for the Tories.

With a weak and divided Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn and a Scottish National party under Nicola Sturgeon wrong-footed, it looked like a shoo-in for the Conservatives.

Now it may still be that the Prime Minister returns to Downing Street with a big majority but as the election draws to a close, we cannot say that with certainty.

Rightly or wrongly, Mrs May performance has been seen by many commentators as wooden, under-confident, metronomic and lacklustre.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon Credit: PA

By way of contrast Mr Corbyn seems to have grown in confidence, been at ease in his own skin. He's not polished but is perceived - again rightly or wrongly - as sincere.

In Scotland the debate has, once again, centred on the case for an against independence. Which is why today's final, dramatic end to the campaign is so intriguing.

At First Minister's questions we saw further fall-out from Ms Sturgeon's claim in the ITV leaders's debate that Labour leader Kezia Dugdale told her after the Brexit vote she would ditch her party's opposition to a second independence referendum.

The Labour leader hotly denies that she ever said such a thing, calling the First Minster's claim a "categoric lie" but the SNP leader told MSPs she knows what was said and stands by her claim.

Leaving aside the issue of whether it is right for Ms Sturgeon to disclose what she alleges was said in a private phone call, the question is why has the First Minister chosen to play this card?

One explanation is that the SNP has picked up a move away from it to Labour and wanted to expose what it would see as hypocrisy on behalf of Ms Dugdale.

The idea of this tactic then would be to say to soft nationalist voters that you can't trust Labour, only the SNP.

There could be something in this, and in one of her last campaign speeches Ms Sturgeon this afternoon asked Labour voters to "lend the SNP" their votes to keep the Tories out.

However, a downside of such a strategy could be that in seats where the SNP is fighting the Tories, Labour voters worried about alleged vacillation on the Union might move to the Conservatives, possibly dislodging a nationalist MP.

It's impossible to say with certainty, though we do know the SNP and its leader had considered using Ms Dugdale's alleged views against her at some point, and we ready to stick to their guns on it, as they did today.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale Credit: PA

There is also a further potential downside for the SNP on this, as up until this issue was raised by Ms Sturgeon in the STV leaders' debate last night the Tory leader Ruth Davidson was under sustained, uncomfortable, pressure on welfare cuts.

Ms Davidson today was content to use the supposed remarks to cast doubt on Ms Sturgeon's integrity over the disclose of a confidential call and leave the First Minister and a very angry looking Ms Dugdale to slug it out. Which brings us to the point of asking what effect all of this will have on the outcome in Scotland.

Winning 56 out of 59 seats in 2015 was an extrordinary result for the SNP. It will be even more extraordinary if they manage to repeat that. The three main Unionist parties - the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems - all hope to take seats from the SNP.

The more constituencies they take the weaker they will say is the SNP's case to prosecute a second independence referendum.

In the south of Scotland, though Labour and the Lib Dems say they are still out fighting for every vote - and they are - it looks like a two horse race between the SNP and the Tories.

Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson Credit: PA

For the Conservatives, a win would be a band of Tory blue stretching from Stranraer to Eyemouth just north of the Border.

If the SNP manage to break that up with a streak of Nationalist yellow, then the cause of independence, and the campaign for indyref2, will be very much alive.

On a UK level, the crucial test for Labour is whether Mr Corbyn's apparent increase in popularity translates into not simply votes, by seats retained, or even won. There is some scepticism over whether that will be the case.

However, as Theresa May gets back tonight to Downing Street after an exhausting campaign, it would not be unreasonable to speculate that the Prime Minister will be, at the very least, a little anxious.