Election 97


Scotland 92 Scotland 97
The Conservatives could hardly have expected to do well in Scotland, but the scale of the electoral meltdown that overtook them was quite unprecedented, as they succumbed to a three-pronged attack - Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems combined to wipe out all their remaining seats north of the border. Coupled with the liquidation of Tory outposts in Wales, this leaves the Conservatives looking like an English national party - and one biased towards south-eastern rural/suburban seats at that. Three Cabinet Ministers were unseated - one by the SNP and two by Labour.

The SNP made three handsome, if expected, gains from the Tories at Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (where the loser was President of the Board of Trade Ian Lang), Tayside North and Perth. The last was in effect a 'hold', having been taken in a midterm byelection by Roseanna Cunningham.

Scottish Liberal Democrats, too, must be well content. At one time, before the election, a number of their seats were felt to be under threat from a Tory resurgence, most notably Tweeddale, ex-leader Sir David Steel's seat (he retired at this election). In the event, they only lost to Labour at the extraordinary four-way marginal of Inverness East, held all their other seats and went on to made some excellent gains, including one of the two remaining Conservative seats in Edinburgh, Edinburgh West. To the North, Malcolm Bruce, ex-leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, easily held his seat at Gordon, which was under threat from boundary changes. A closer contest at Aberdeenshire West closed out a good night for them.

It was Labour, however, who delivered the coup de grace to the Tories with the shock announcement that their safest seat in Scotland, true-blue Eastwood, had fallen to the red tide sweeping Britain. Labour gains at Aberdeen South, Dumfries, Stirling - unseating Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth - and Edinburgh Pentlands - throwing Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind out of the Commons - rounded out the most disastrous election ever for Scottish Tories.