The results of the parliamentary elections on Thursday have confirmed the position of the SNP. SNP, Liberal Democrats and Greens were largely happy to hold their own; the biggest change is the reduction of the number of representatives from Labour, and the increase in the representation of Conservatives. Both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats put a lot of emphasis on the show-business end of politics, including performances with children and animals. That may, I fear, mislead future campaigners into believing that what matters is the razzmatazz.
What the SNP and the Conservatives had, and what Labour notably lacked, was a broader narrative. For the SNP, the principal points were about self-government and competence; for the Conservatives, it was about the strength of the union and mounting effective opposition. Labour, by contrast, tried to emphasise a series of policies. None of the parties was short of policy. Nor was this, as John McTernan would have it, about right and left: all the parties in Scotland are to the left of the UK government. The simple truth is that offering people a shopping list is just not enough to counter a good story. If Labour wants to appeal, it needs to restate its own narrative. It can do that by focusing on its principles – equality, empowerment, solidarity and the common weal.