POOR messaging, voters “pissed off” with talk of indyref2, the Corbyn surge and a failure to motivate supporters have all been blamed by party insiders for the SNP’s poor result in the General Election.

Although the party won 35 Westminster seats, the second best election result in their 80-year history, they also lost 13 per cent of the vote, dropping from 50 to 37.

Yesterday, the SNP were reeling, coming to terms with the loss of 21 MPs, including depute leader Angus Robertson, former first minister Alex Salmond, chief whip Mike Weir, Banff and Buchan’s Eilidh Whiteford, and other high profile members such as Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

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“Too many big figures have lost for us to be sitting here spinning this in some way or another,” one SNP source said. “Colleagues who have spent decades building up this party and this movement have lost their seats. We need to be honest about what happened. This could have been avoided.”

In a series of candid interviews, MPs, candidates, backroom staff and senior figures in the SNP have told The National what they think went wrong.

Some were happy to speak on the record, most asked to remain anon-ymous.

“We didn’t succeed in getting all of our supporters out,” one cand-idate said, putting the blame for that at the feet of the national campaign.

“I spoke to far too many people who were supposed to be ‘category one and category two’ strong sup-porters, who were just pissed off, absolutely pissed off, with indyref2 talk. We’re not talking about undecided voters here, we’re talking about our supporters.

“The message that indyref2 is not for now but for later at the end of the Brexit process did not get through at all. We completely failed to communicate that point.

“That was a major failure on our part as a party nationally. Our communication strategy was all over the place in terms of indyref2.”

Another senior SNP source said: “The campaign was not good enough. The message wasn’t there.”

Marco Biagi, a former SNP minister told The National: “Indyref2 helped the Tories. Natural Tories thought that voting Tory helped stop indyref2, core nationalists didn’t really believe voting SNP hastened it.

“The SNP campaign was a ‘Standing Up For Scotland’ campaign. That is comfort zone territory. To do well at Westminster the SNP need to be better at making a case about what role it can play there.

“Scottish Labour benefited from a Corbyn factor that Scottish Labour’s leader doesn’t believe in. If it was any more ironic, Alanis Morissette would write a song about it.”

One re-elected MP agreed that the Corbyn factor shouldn’t be under- estimated in any autopsy of the party’s result. He admitted the size of the losses had caught a lot of the party off guard.

“A lot of us are feeling really gutted, not just for the MPs who lost their seats but also for their staff who have lost their jobs,” the politician said. “Even though the SNP won, I feel the same as I felt the day after we lost the independence referendum.”

He added: “There was a Corbyn bounce. People saw him, heard his message and they didn’t realise he’s no lover of Scotland.

“There were criticisms on the doorsteps over local services and our domestic record which both Labour and the Tories were attacking us on. In fact, I’m sure that if Labour had won my seat the Tories would have cheered a Labour victory.”

A second MP made similar reflections. “A couple of weeks ago, I thought I was in real danger of losing my seat,” he said. “But the launch of the manifesto gave me a much- needed boost. The anti-austerity mess-age and reversal of benefits cuts gave us a strong message to take to voters.

“We needed it, as it looked like the Labour party under Corbyn was breaking through.”

He added: “I don’t think there was complacency, but it’s a timely reminder that all votes on our loan and we need to remember there’s no such thing as a safe seat.”

Another MP said the real story of the election was young Yes supporters giving their vote to Corbyn. They claimed this meant much of the new Labour support was pro- independence.

“What the hell does Kezia Dugdale do now?” one source asked.

Another senior politician said the party was “still in a very strong place”: “People shouldn’t lose sight of that. The party is very good at running campaigns, but we were caught unawares. The election wasn’t expected and we were all focused on the council elections and also, in the light of Brexit, what was going to happen to indyref2.

“The election was not expected. This wasn’t ideal and to some extent put us at a disadvantage. Strategically, we would have been doing things differently if we had thought we were heading for an election. You can’t blame anyone for that, it’s just what happened.”

Another source said: “Some of the ones who have gone are big hitters and hard workers who didn’t deserve it. But some just didn’t put the work in to keep their seats.”

A senior figure told The National: “We didn’t get our members out. They were really struggling in some areas. The new members in particular didn’t get involved and that hurt us.”

There was also frustration about the party’s inability to tackle rival campaigns which focused on devolved issues and its record in Holyrood. The source said: “They were pushing and pushing us on education and health, but no-one was voting on that. The SNP’s record at Westminster is very good. We didn’t make that case forcefully enough.”

Another candidate complained of “centralisation” and a “one-size-fits-all” nature of the campaign. This, they argued, hurt the SNP in the north east. Only Kirsty Blackman’s Aberdeen North constituency remains SNP.

Gordon, Moray, West Aberdeenshire, and Angus, all fell to the Tories.

“Scotland is not one place,” one candidate said. “Scotland is not Glasgow, nor the central belt. It’s many different places, with many different demographics and political realities.

“I still don’t think we’ve quite cracked that yet. We still think that one size, fits all. We need to start doing what the LibDems do and get better at running local campaigns”.

Toni Giugliano who lost out to the LibDems in Edinburgh West, said it was time for the SNP to put independence on the backburner.

“We need to govern Scotland well over the next few years.,” he said. “To focus on education, focus on health, as we did in our second term of government and to demonstrate Scotland is different to the rest of the UK in the way it manages its public services and looks after its vulnerable. That’s what we have been doing, but we need to make that starker. When the right time comes, people will demand a second independence referendum.”

That time will come, he added, when the Brexit deal crumbles.

A senior MSP, dismissed talk of Nicola Sturgeon being under pressure and speculation she could forced out of the leadership.

“Nonsense,” they said. “Who else is there? There’s nobody right now who could do the job. We have 35 MPs. In 2014 we had six. We’ve been in government 10 years and we’re still winning. No. You would piss off a lot of supporters by trying to get rid of Nicola.”