Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Clegg Reels from Disaster as SNP Take over Scotland; Tories Snatch Seats from Lib-Dems

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Clegg Reels from Disaster as SNP Take over Scotland; Tories Snatch Seats from Lib-Dems

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy Political Editor

BRITAIN'S political landscape shifted dramatically today as Nick Clegg suffered a hammering and Scotland gave a clear mandate to nationalists who want to break up the United Kingdom.

In a day of high drama, the embattled Liberal Democrat leader admitted taking "a real knock" in his party's worst election drubbing.

Horrified Lib-Dems lost at least four councils plus swathes of councillors, and were braced to see their cherished dream of AV crushed in the referendum result tonight.

But while he battled to save the Coalition at Westminster, a bigger shock was brewing north of the border. Scottish Nationalist leader Alex Salmond won a historic victory in the Holyrood parliament with an overall majority -- a staggering achievement in a chamber elected by proportional representation. Mr Salmond immediately demanded extra tax and spending powers for Scotland -- reopening the vexed West Lothian question -- and said he would seek to hold a referendum on independence.

The Prime Minister said he would "campaign with every single fibre" to claimed Mr Salmond's plans would "send shivers down the spines" of people.

In other dramatic results:

Conservative leader David Cameron avoided heavy losses in a gravity-defying performance at the polls -- and snatched seats from his Coalition partners in the South.

Mr Miliband's Labour Party made huge gains in the North, particularly from the Lib-Dems, and on the Welsh assembly where the Tory leader was unseated. But it took a drubbing in Scotland. In the South, Labour seized Gravesham from the Tories but made only modest gains elsewhere.

Experts predicted a crushing 60-40 majority or better for the No to AV campaign. Clegg ally Norman Lamb conceded that "people have rejected" the alternative vote.

Mr Clegg's party suffered pure agony as 350 councillors were given their marching orders with half the counts still incomplete. …

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