Millions of Scots cast their vote on Thursday in what promises to be one of the most important elections in Scottish political history.
Six weeks of chapping doors, TV debates, interviews and picture opportunities culminated in Thursday’s knife-edge poll, which could have major implications for the future of the Union and direction of the country.
Nicola Sturgeon, who is almost certain to remain first minister either at the head of an SNP majority government or pro-independence coalition, was all smiles as she met supporters in Glasgow yesterday.
On days like this, I always share cute animal pics as an #ElectionDistraction (they’re coming soon, I promise) but I just bumped into @NicolaSturgeon near my polling station. I’ve photographed her at many events but today we had to make do with a quick phone snap in the street. pic.twitter.com/5GIIATT1q2
— Julie Broadfoot (@juliebee) May 6, 2021
Ms Sturgeon said: “If I am re-elected first minister, I guarantee I’ll be back at my desk straight away tackling the pandemic.
“And when the Covid crisis has passed, we will give the people of Scotland the opportunity to decide if they want the recovery to be in the hands of the likes of Boris Johnson and the austerity-driven Tories, or to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands with independence.”
Douglas Ross, who is eager to see the Scottish Tories keep their place as the second-largest party at Holyrood, was joined by his wife Krystle and son Alistair as he arrived at Alves Hall in Moray to cast his vote.
Mr Ross said “no matter the result” of Thursday’s poll, all leaders “have a duty to put aside political differences and fixate on what really matters”.
He added: “We must begin the hard graft of rebuilding Scotland now. We cannot afford to wait or waste time squabbling over the same arguments that have dominated our politics for more than a decade.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, who has been buoyed by the positive reaction to his campaign, was in high spirits at a Glasgow polling station yesterday.
He said: “I’m enormously proud of our positive and uplifting campaign, which has focused relentlessly on the priorities of the people of Scotland.
“Labour is building a credible alternative, with a focus on jobs, the NHS, education, climate and communities.”
Alex Salmond may have been the story of this election, with the launch of the Alba Party, but the former first minister has found it difficult to gain traction with voters – with poll after poll making dire predictions.
Mr Salmond was in confident mood yesterday, however, telling reporters he had put forward a “positive case” for “urgency” on Scottish independence.
Questioned about his feelings on returning to his local polling station with the Alba Party on the ballot paper, Mr Salmond said it was a “different experience, but a familiar one”, adding: “Polling day is always an exciting day.”
Party leaders will have a more agonising wait for results this year, as due to coronavirus restrictions there will be no overnight counts.
Counting will begin on Friday morning, with results expected sometime on Saturday.
Alongside the Scottish parliamentary elections there are also elections for the Welsh Assembly, English local councils, the London, Teesside and West Midlands mayoralty and a by-election in Hartlepool.
YouGov local election polling published last week suggested the Tories could take over a number of Labour councils and win Hartlepool, which has been red for more than half a century.
Sir Keir Starmer said it would take time to rebuild his party after the worst general election result since 1935 under Jeremy Corbyn, adding: “I never thought we would climb the mountain we have to climb in just one year.”