The National:

THERE is a tale, allegedly not apocryphal, that when Peter, now Lord Mandelson, was campaigning in Hartlepool as the Labour candidate, with Neil Kinnock as his minder, he popped into a local chippy. As a side order he asked for “some of that lovely looking guacamole.” His minder was swift to advise him that he was looking at the dish of mushy peas.

Perhaps if the increasingly upwardly mobile Lord M had been the Labour man this time round, his party might not have suffered such a “shattering” blow. Then again, by common consent, one of the reasons Brexit inclined Hartlepool rejected GP Paul Williams was that the ex-MP had been solidly for Remain. As was ex EU commissioner Mandelson.

Are there lessons for Scotland in this by election result? Perhaps more in the shape of warnings. As part of Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” exercise, civil service jobs are being relocated in the north east of England. Whether you regard this as a welcome investment or a transparent bribe, it shows the facility with which a governing party can throw money and jobs at target areas.

Why this matters to us, is that thanks to its Internal Market Act, the Tory Government in London has not only annexed some of Holyrood’s repatriated powers and funding from Brussels, but has indicated its intention to trample all over the Scotland Act by wading into infrastructure projects in devolved policy areas branding them as Union largesse.

Prepare to see Union flags where once the blue and gold of Brussels were the commonest indication of external assistance. It may prove a counter productive tactic, since, for some Scots, the Union flag is more of a red rag to an already irritated bull. Prepare too to see funding going to help the propaganda war which the pro-Union “think tanks” will wage as well as the Unionist parties; a propaganda war already well underway.

READ MORE: Election results so far show SNP are definitely going to form next government

Early indications for the Scottish parliamentary election offered indy supporters apparent confirmation that the SNP will form the next Scottish government, but until tomorrow’s list seat winners are unveiled, we are still in the dark as to whether they can beat the system for a second time and form a majority administration without the assistance of the Greens who have high hopes of doubling their representation. And it will be another 24 hours too, before we find whether Alex Salmond’s Alba gamble has got him back in the game.

Day one of the count brought us the bizarre sight of several seats having wild swings, one changing hands, and yet the overall statistical picture barely moving from the last Scottish election. The more things change, the more they remain the same!

On election day, I found myself propelled into my local polling station, despite my postal vote having been dispatched a fortnight ago. That ritual of going in person, and giving a pencilled nod to your candidates of choice, is something most of us cherish and are reluctant to give up.

It was good to know that turnout generally appears to be up despite so many commentators insisting this poll was a drama free zone. Plus, there will be no shortage of that commodity in the next 48 hours.