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BLOG: Election guddle puts indyref2 in doubt

Ruth Davidson today Credit: PA

What a complete guddle. For those of you not familiar with the Scots word, it means a mess.

And a complete mess is that's the only way to describe the outcome of the general election Theresa May didn't have to call, but did.

An election the Prime Minister called hoping tighten her grip on power only to see it slipping from her grasp.

In the south of Scotland, and Scotland generally the Conservatives bucked the UK trend and did rather well.

A clean sweep of three MPs from Portpatrick to Eyemouth, with successful Holyrood by-election thrown in, is simply a great result for the Tories.

And it's a bad result for the SNP losing two seats and failing to dislodge David Mundell, once Scotland's only Conservative MP, now one of 13.

Why were the Tories so successful in the south of Scotland, and across the country?

There is a general agreement that it was their relentless focus on opposition to a second independence referendum wot won it.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and First Minister, accepted this when she did a post-election media conference at her official residence in Edinburgh earlier today.

I asked her if she accepted that with the majority of votes going to Unionist parties she accepted indyref2 should be off the agenda for the whole of this Scottish parliament which last until 2021?

She told me "that interpretation had a degree of force to it" but suggested the late surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn might also have had something to do with the SNP losing 21 MPs, down from the extraordinary 56 in 2015.

The First Minister refused to go any further than that, saying she would reflect on the message her party had been sent by the electorate. She also stated that the SNP with 35 MPs had 'won' the election.

While there was no doubt some truth in her plea that sleep-deprived politicians should not leap to instant judgements, she clearly also wants to buy some time.

Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader, did not want to give her that time using her very brief post-election media call to call on the First Minister to take indyref2 off the table.

So far so straightforward. Or relatively straightforward. The comes the guddle.

Ms Sturgeon lost no time in attacking the Prime Minister for her decision to call the election and chaos the First Minister thinks it will bring.

Ms Davidson refused to take any questions on the Prime Minister's future. You can make of that what you will.

She did though hint - again in a question to me - that she favoured a 'soft Brexit', although she said she did not recognise the terms 'hard' and 'soft' Brexit.

But all of this then plays back to Scotland. It is by no means certain Mrs May will continue as Prime Minister.

Which means that Ms Sturgeon will not want to completely close down her options on independence even if she wanted to.

Even if she accepts that the election put back her cause, and it appears that she does, she is never going to sop believing in independence. Why would she?

And she might think that the guddle at Westminster could in the end up working in her favour.

She might be right, though she might not, and there's the rub.

What we do know for certain, as the voting statistics tell us, is that the SNP's share of the vote has gone down from it's high of 2015 in every subsequent election.

If the SNP had the 'big Mo' (political momentum) in their favour they don't have it now, as the Tories take great pleasure in pointing out.

But, and this is important, if the history of modern Scottish politics teaches us anything, it is not to write off the SNP.

There will no doubt be much more on this in the days ahead.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale speaks to the media today Credit: PA

Irony in Labour's Scottish success

But before I sign off this last election blog (stop cheering over there) a mention of Labour and the Lib Dems.

Everyone, this writer included, thought the Labour party would do well to keep just one seat. They won seven. It's a remarkable achievement, relatively speaking.

But there is a certain irony that it may be thanks to the popularity of Mr Corbyn, who was not very popular among many people in his party north of the Border and was not originally endorsed by the Scottish leader, Kezia Dugdale.

And then the Lib Dems. From one MP to four is a pretty good night for them, and they came within two votes of it being five, just missing out in North-East Fife.

Often written off, the Lib Dems under their ebullient leader Willie Rennie live to fight another day.

As will this reporter, I hope. Well after a decent night sleep. Who knows I might wake up tomorrow and find it's just been a dream, or perhaps a nightmare.