In the last ten days the SNP have worked themselves up to more and a more of a lather over events in our Councils following the May 5th Election. In summary, Labour has formed minority administrations across Scotlland in places where they did not have the largest number of councillors and yet no other Party (in urban Scotland, essentially the SNP) had an overall majority.
Now it seems to me this is something they might have anticipated. After all Anas had made it clear we would be forming no coalitions with anybody. If you thought that through for a minute that was obviously going to leave the Tories as kingmakers in a large number of councils and, logically, they would be likely to support Labour administrations if forced to choose from the lesser of two evils. That has indeed transpired.
None of this explains however quite why the SNP have gone just so tonto over this.
I think there are four explanations.
Firstly, events have made them look stupid, and nobody likes to look stupid. They simply did not see this coming, although five minutes thinking through Anas's pledge of no coalitions should have alerted them to its possibility.
Secondly, in local government in particular, power is money. Committee Conveners, chosen by the administration in power, earn twice as much as ordinary councillors, while Council leaders can earn up to three times as much. So a lot of Nats have lost a lot of money personally as a result of what has happened. That's enough to annoy anybody.
Thirdly, there is the lingering mirage of a second independence referendum. Referendum's are legislated for by Governments but carried out by councils. I have written elsewhere about the legal controversy that might follow Holyrood legislating for an ultra vires independence referendum. Suffice to say, failing to control a number of our major Councils does not assist the SNP in that context.
But these are not the main reasons the Nats are going ballistic. That is because they have suddenly realised what this might mean for their continued control of Holyrood after the 2026 Election.
In 2007, the SNP had, by one seat, the largest number of MSPs but they had nowhere near an overall majority. Against that background, on any view, Alex Salmond played a political blinder. From his opening salvo "It may not yet be clear who has won this election but it is clear who has lost" to the point of his election as First Minister he proceeded on the basis that this one seat margin entitled the SNP to form a Government. He was, it has to be said, assisted in this by the other major Parties. The Lib Dems decided they wanted to go in to opposition. Labour just kind of gave up after that while the Tories were never more than interested bystanders since nobody would form an administration of which they were part. So, although all four major Parties nominated for the position of First Minister, as their candidates were knocked out, they thereafter abstained and ultimately Salmond then became FM with only 49 of the 129 votes available.
Now, I'm not sure how wise these tactics by the opposition were given subsequent developments but what's done is done. And in the process the SNP believed themselves to have set a precedent that the largest Party was entitled to the position of First Minister. None of this has really mattered since because the Nats did get an absolute majority in 2011 and, counting in their wholly owned subsidiary that is the Scottish Green Party, effectively did the same in 2016 and 2021.
But they have suddenly woken up to the precedent they themselves thought they had set in 2007 is not accepted by the other Parties. So if the SNP and Greens are still the dominant force at Holyrood in 2026, but fail to gain a combined total of 65 MPs, then anything could happen. If the Tories and Libs decide, unlike 2007, that a minority Labour Administration is, as I say earlier, the better of two evils and vote for a Labour FM then that is what we will have, It is precisely that which has happened in Councils across Scotland since May 5th.
And that is the main reason the Nats are so outraged. Because they are worried.