Just for once we have a by-election outcome where the terminology of 'hold' or 'gain' isn't misleading due to the quirks of the voting system. The Highland ward in Perth & Kinross was firmly Tory territory in the council elections last May, and the vacant seat was successfully retained by the Tories in the by-election yesterday.
Highland ward (Perth & Kinross) by-election result:
Conservatives 46.7% (+1.2)
SNP 35.9% (-0.6)
Independent - Taylor 6.9% (n/a)
Labour 5.8% (n/a)
Greens 2.5% (-1.4)
Liberal Democrats 1.9% (-1.6)
Independent - Baykal 0.3% (n/a)
For my money that's a very solid result for the SNP. Of course they were talking up their chances of winning outright, which any party with even an outside chance always has to do, but the reality is that they would have needed a hefty 4.5% swing from the Tories, which was always improbable given the greater tendency of Tory voters to turn out in lower profile contests. Essentially what we have is a no change outcome - there's been a tiny swing to the Tories, but nothing of any real consequence. That's consistent with the message of the national opinion polls, which suggests that despite all the media hoo-ha over the general election result, the SNP vote has actually held up admirably since June.
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I think someone at Time magazine has a sense of humour - either that, or (and this is more probable) they're just completely clueless. The publication has named Ruth Davidson - I'm not making this up, Ruth Davidson - as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Well, let's put that seemingly improbable claim to the test, shall we? She's an MSP, so the main arena for her influence really ought to be the Scottish Parliament - but she doesn't have much there, even as the leader of the second-largest party. Yes, the SNP government is just short of an outright majority and is sometimes forced to seek arrangements with other parties to get legislation through, but for obvious reasons parties other than the Tories are the usual port of call for any deal-making. So if Davidson is frozen out of power in Scotland, the only conceivable influence she could possibly have would be indirect influence on her fellow Tories in government at Westminster. But what evidence is there that she even has that? She's made two main boasts about what 'her' bloc of MPs at Westminster would achieve over the last year - 1) that the devolution settlement would be protected with amendments made to the EU Withdrawal Bill at the Commons stage, and 2) that powers over fisheries would be repatriated to the UK immediately after Brexit. Both of those claims came to absolutely nothing, and all we've heard from Davidson is how "frustrated" she is that she can't do anything about it. As a general rule, the most influential people in the world get what they want, rather than whinge about being "frustrated" that the opposite of what they want is happening because other people are calling the shots.
I think GA Ponsonby has it nailed - the bogus narrative of 'Ruth the Powerful' is a fairy-tale dreamt up from scratch by the media, and has somehow gained so much traction that even a few people in other countries have started to believe it. This accolade for Davidson will in a few short years look as mind-bogglingly silly as Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973.