Has everything changed? The numbers say so: SNP down from 48 to 9. Labour up from 1 to 37. The headlines say so: “Keir Starmer wants new positive relationship with Scotland”. Even my feelings say so, yours too maybe. For years: anger, frustration, more anger. Now: relief, satisfaction. Hope?

Let’s add some realism to the mix though. Keir Starmer and John Swinney no doubt had a perfectly civil conversation on Sunday, with Sir Keir saying how he wants Scotland to be at the beating heart of decision-making and Mr Swinney saying he wants to work with the new government to make our lives better. They’re playing nice. Great.

But for how long? For a start, the SNP’s strategy has been to tell us that everything except the rain is Westminster’s fault and, even though the results of the election would seem to suggest it’s a strategy that’s no longer working for them (if it ever did) it’s going to be a hard habit to break.

First Minister John SwinneyFirst Minister John Swinney (Image: free)

The other reason to be cautious about a supposed new age of cooperation is the question of credit. Perhaps the two governments really will work together, as Mr Swinney says, to tackle child poverty, grow the economy, and improve public services. But there’s another election coming in two years and if there are improvements, Labour and the SNP will both want to take the credit, and if there aren’t improvements, they’ll both want to blame the other one. It means trouble ahead.

But before any of that happens - and it will - here’s something perhaps both the leaders should be thinking about. For a long time, we’ve been used to the SNP talking about how they speak for the people of Scotland, and represent Scotland’s values, and how they have a mandate for another referendum, and they would point to their 48 MPs as evidence for that. But now most of that’s gone.

Labour, on the other hand, are now in the opposite situation. For years, they had just one MP and it was hard for them to claim to be speaking for Scotland in any meaningful way. Now they have 37 MPs and the temptation may be to start talking like the SNP. In his press conference at the weekend, Sir Keir said that for the first time in 20-plus years, Labour had a majority in England, Scotland and Wales and it was a clear mandate to govern for all four corners of the UK. You can see what he might be getting at.

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But before Sir Keir and Mr Swinney start arguing about who really is the voice of Scotland, perhaps they should stop for a minute and take a good proper look at the new political map and what it means. Until Friday morning, it was a sea of SNP yellow. But look at it now. Still lots of SNP yellow sure, but lots of Lib Dem yellow too, and big blobs of Tory blue and, the biggest change of all, a dramatic swathe of Labour red right across the middle. It looks like change because it is.

However, I think the real lesson of the map - the red, the yellow and the blue - actually goes a bit deeper than that and says less about the kind of change we’ve just been through and more about who we’ve been all along. Obviously, this is a map that’s produced by first-past-the-post and that can throw up some odd and unfair results. But even with that caveat, I think every Scottish politician - unionist and nationalist - should look at the map and consider what it tells us.

Here’s what I think: it demonstrates that Scotland isn’t what we’ve been told it is and never has been. The SNP said we were a nation aching for independence, a nation that hated the Tories, and a nation that wanted left-of-centre policies. Labour on the other hand may be tempted to tell us that Scotland is now actually a nation that loves being part of the UK and is full-square behind Starmer. They may also tell us, God forbid, that after the aberration of the SNP, Labour is back baby, and normal Scottish service has been resumed.

None of that’s true, as the map you can see in front of you proves. Some of it is blue because there’s always been a conservative streak in Scotland, particularly in the Borders and especially in the north-east where I’m from. Without generalising too much, lots of people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are conservative and Conservative, cautious about change and careful with their money and other people’s money, and that’s sometimes forgotten because so much of the political chit-chat in Scotland is dominated by the central belt and people there assume everyone must be like them.

What else does the map show? The sweep of red across the centre is particularly interesting and it turned red for the same reasons it was SNP yellow for a while. Glasgow and the towns around it, large parts of Ayrshire, the former mining villages, all of them are places where there’s deep-rooted and long-lasting poverty and people in those places have always been drawn to the party they think is going to change their lives. It’s why the central belt was dominated by Labour for so long and it’s why they’ve gone back to Labour again. But don’t forget: the central belt is one part of Scotland, not all of it.

(Image: Keir Starmer in Downing Street)

Further north is another interesting story, one only confirmed after several recounts in Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire. The Lib Dems eventually won the seat from the SNP and again, this speaks to a deeper truth about Scottish politics. The constituency first went to the SNP in 2015, after what most people thought was a pretty nasty campaign aimed at Charles Kennedy, but it didn’t change the fundamentals of the political scene in the Highlands. It’s always been characterised by strong liberal sentiments and a sense of separateness from Glasow and Edinburgh where the bigger parties dominate. The Lib Dems winning Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire is a welcome reminder of that.

Perhaps you can see where I’m going with all of this. The new map of Scotland may look like a dramatic change – and on the surface it is. But what the map actually does is reflect the wide variation in our country. How pluralistic we are. The fact that there are many different traditions in different regions based on their varied histories: radical, conservative, liberal. And above all, the fact that our opinions vary across right and left just like they do in other places. We are not unique. In fact, dare I say: we’re a lot like England.

I think Scotland’s politicians – rising or falling – should pay attention to that basic truth before they seek to speak for us. The SNP certainly failed that test, but I detect some good signs in Keir Starmer. In his speech outside Number Ten on Friday, he said his government would serve people whether they voted Labour or not - in fact especially if they did not, and there’s something good in that, something hopeful, and something inevitable. The new political map of Scotland shows pretty clearly that we do not speak with one voice. And politicians who think we do are not going to last very long.