"An electrifying new chapter now begins for Scotland," says Dr Alex Smith, a sociologist from The University of Warwick and an expert on Scottish politics. "Following Alex Salmond's resignation as both First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon - his Deputy First Minister - steps forward and takes on the leadership of her party with its rank and file firmly united behind her.
"She makes history as Scotland's first ever female First Minister while also taking the helm of a party that appears, despite losing September's referendum on Scottish independence, in the ascendant. Their membership has almost quadrupled in two months while opinion polls suggest strong gains ahead for them at next year's general election.
"This has got Labour campaign strategists badly worried as they seek to head off the threat from the Scottish Nationalists - a threat that looks to them as dangerous and foreboding as that which the Conservatives face from UKIP in the Southeast of England. But the Scottish Labour Party, which should have been the big winner after Scotland voted against separating from the rest of the UK, has devolved into factional warfare following the resignation of its own leader, Johann Lamont.
"The contrast between Labour's leadership woes and what might seem to some to be the coronation of a new SNP leader could not be starker. But there is little room for complacency for the Nationalists. Scottish Labour has few big beasts left with the intelligence, energy or cunning to take on the Nationalists. But Jim Murphy, a former Cabinet Minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has declared he wants to swap Westminster for Holyrood and become Labour's next First Minister in Scotland.
"Both Nicola Sturgeon and Jim Murphy played central roles on their respective sides of the referendum debate and look likely to lock horns again. The battle for Scottish independence may be over - for now - but the struggle between Labour and the SNP looks set to intensify."
Note to Editors:
Dr Alex Smith is available for interviews. Contact him on +44 (0)24 7615 1958 or +44 (0)7411 665 665.
Issued by Lee Page, Communications Manager at The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255. Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Alex Smith
Tel: +44 (0)24 7615 1958
Mob: +44 (0)7411 665 665.
Lee Page, Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255.
Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221.