This is weird. Labour has won, the Tories and the SNP have lost, and Liz Truss has been rightly punished for putting up my mortgage. So why don't I hear D:Ream telling me that things can only get, can only get better now I found you? Maybe it’s because some of the fundamentals underlying the election haven’t changed all that much. And maybe it’s because in Scotland, deep down, the results could actually be good news for the SNP.

But first, let’s deal with the SNP’s initial attempts to spin the actual results. What the election was really about, said Nicola Sturgeon, was kicking the Tories out and replacing them with Labour, the implication being that the SNP was squeezed in the middle. She also suggested the constitution hadn’t really been front and centre of the SNP’s campaign, the second implication being that the election results shouldn’t be seen as a judgment on independence.

I suspect many Scottish voters listening to that were thinking: nice try Nicola. Kicking the Tories out has been one of the SNP’s USPs for years, the T-word forever on their lips. The anti-Tory strategy has also been one of the SNP’s central arguments for promoting independence so the idea that it might now be a problem for them, and an explanation for their defeat, doesn’t hold together.

As for independence, the argument there is dodgy too. What Ms Sturgeon seems to be suggesting is that independence wasn’t central to the SNP campaign, meaning there are no implications for the constitutional debate. But first of all, that’s not true: independence was central to the debate, as it always is. And secondly, the logical trap the SNP got themselves into is obvious. They said a majority of Scottish seats was a mandate for independence, which must mean that no majority is not a mandate. Thankfully, there are some signs the SNP is starting to accept this (for now at least).

Read more

In other respects – and I accept they’re well disguised – there are several pieces of good news for the SNP. The first is that the electorate is volatile and willing to switch and switch again which means the swing to Labour may not be a longer-term trend. Ms Sturgeon pointed out – and this is something I do agree with her on – that the 2019 election was turned round quickly and so the 2024 one can be turned around quickly too. I’m sure she’s right.

The other curious thing is that although support for the SNP tanked, support for their raison d’etre – independence – hasn’t dropped at all and is still up in the high 40s or thereabouts. Significant numbers of independence supporters may have been willing to vote for a unionist party for the first time in a while, but it also suggests the main driver for previous, and future, support for the SNP is still solid.

Related to this – and it’s another piece of good news for the SNP – is that the only possible alternative for independence supporters at the moment, Alba, did not do well. It means that despite the SNP’s record in government, which is responsible for at least some of the terrible results this week, the party still looks like the only realistic mechanism for achieving independence until something else comes along and there’s no sign of that. This will shore up their support and may provide a bit of a base for recovery.

Then there’s the issue of what Labour does now, which the SNP may also be able to interpret as good news. Right now, on day one of the new government, there’s still the little thing called hope and his little brother optimism, but the Scottish elections are still around 18 months away, which is time enough for hope and optimism to fade. Scottish Labour are saying, in public at least, that the general election provides momentum for the elections in 2026, but if they fail to make much visible, tangible progress in the next two years, some of the SNP-to-Labour switchers may start switching back again.

(Image: SNP's David Linden at the count in Glasgow)

We also need to understand how nationalism works. One of the commentators on TV last night was Neil Kinnock – how nice to see him again now that he can’t be Prime Minister! – and the good point he made was that the appeal of populist nationalists never goes away because they offer simple solutions to complicated questions and that applies to Scotland like anywhere else.

Indeed, on the right, Reform did reasonably well up here, so well in fact that they changed the result in Douglas Ross’s seat. Those still in denial about the strong conservative streak in Scotland will find that surprising. But we should actually see it as a warning.

The other thing about nationalism of course, on the right or left, is that it thrives in a negative environment which is another bit of hope for the SNP. Labour have just had an amazing result and there’s a bit of a buzz about the place (and we’ll surely never tire of the happy memory of Liz Truss, eyes darting from side to side, listening to the results being announced in her seat).

But here’s the thing. If the first months and years of the new government do not go well, the populists and the nationalists will be back, and they’ll pounce, and they could end up stronger. So dismiss any thoughts of playing a little snippet of D:Ream. Because the worry hasn’t gone away.