Kirk Torrance, the SNP’s new-media strategist, is standing over his PC, his constant companion for the past 18 months. Suddenly he points down the packed boardroom towards a giant television screen on the wall. “It’s coming now!” he shouts.
The tickertape running at the bottom of the screen tells the story. After a recount, the SNP have won Kirkcaldy, the 65th seat that guarantees a majority in the Scottish Parliament. Before the television has even cut to the voice of the returning officer, the room is in uproar.
Everyone is on his feet. Many, like Kevin Pringle, Alex Salmond’s special adviser, are staring at the screen, smiling, clapping their hands and shaking their heads in joy and disbelief. People are falling into each other’s arms, hugging and kissing. Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy leader, has cupped her face in her hands and is on the verge of tears.
The impossible has happened. An electoral system that was purposedesigned to deny the SNP power has been overridden. Beyond their wildest dreams, the SNP, in Mr Salmond’s words, has become the national party of Scotland. His party workers are on cloud nine.
“Look,” says Peter Murrell, Ms Sturgeon’s husband and the party’s chief executive. “The sun’s come out.” And it is true. The clouds of a dreich Edinburgh afternoon have parted. A Scottish summer has begun that feels every bit as vibrant to these party workers as the Arab Spring felt in Egypt.