NICOLA Sturgeon has downplayed the prospects of the SNP winning an absolute majority at Holyrood, calling it a “very, very long shot”.

The First Minister made the comment as she arrived at the Glasgow count amid early signs of a depressed SNP vote in many seats and tactical voting by Unionists.

Asked how confident she was of getting a majority at Holyrood, she said: “Look, a majority has always been a very, very long shot. The Holyrood system is a proportional representation system.

“In 2011, we effectively broke that system. So it would be good to do. But I have never taken that for granted. 

“That has always been on a a knife-edge; a small number of votes in a small number of seats.

“So we’ll wait and see how the votes pan out over today and tomorrow.

"But at this stage in the results - and there’s a long, long way to go - I’m feeling extremely happy and extremely confident that we are on track in the SNP for a fourth consecutive election victory and to have the ability to form a government again, and that’s an extraordinary achievement for any political party.

“If that is show the results end, and that is how the election turns out, then I’ll be ready and eager to get back to work on behalf of the people of Scotland.”

Other SNP MSPs and MPs have also emphasised the fourth term over a majority in media interviews today, suggesting they are working to a script. 

Asked about the increased turnout compared to 2016, Ms Sturgeon added: “Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this eleciton it is a real victory for democracy and something that we shoudl all take great heart from.

"I’m absolutely delighted.”