LESSONS must be learned from the SNP’s general election defeat in Moray, according to the party’s local MSP.
Speaking after depute leader and Westminster parliamentary group leader Angus Robertson lost his seat to Conservative Douglas Ross, Richard Lochhead said the Nationalists had to accept they got some aspects of their campaign wrong.
While the SNP returned 35 MPs – maintaining their position as the third largest party in the House of Commons – they lost 21 from the intake following the 2015 ballot, including five of six constituencies in the north-east of Scotland.
Across the country the Tories campaigned strongly against a second Scottish independence referendum, which contributed to Mr Ross overturning Mr Robertson’s 9065 majority and beating his nearest rival by 4159 votes, a swing to the Tories from the SNP of 13.57 per cent.
Mr Lochhead said: "The EU referendum and Brexit have turned politics upside down, and perhaps the SNP failed to appreciate the impact such a momentous development would have on the votes in Moray and Scotland.
"Many SNP voters were prepared to vote Tory because of their desire to leave the European Union, and I don’t feel the SNP had a strong enough message for people with such views."
He added: "It’s important to realise the Tory government is in utter turmoil after Theresa May’s gamble failed spectacularly.
"We are in a period of flux and uncertainty and the political environment is very unpredictable – we could be in a completely different set of circumstances in a couple of months.
"That’s why it’s not easy to come up with simplistic answers in respect to the election result in Moray and Scotland.
"Labour failed to win the election, Teresa May lost her majority and the SNP lost sets and big personalities like Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond.
"However I am confident that in the coming months and years, the SNP’s message of standing up for Scots will gain more and more traction.
"We failed to persuade people to back our cause in Moray.
"We have to learn our lesson and accept we got some things wrong."
Mr Lochhead admitted he was gutted Mr Robertson had lost his seat, describing him as a friend, and that the House of Commons and Moray would be poorer without him.
He added the former First Minister, who was defeated in Gordon, had been a enormous influence in his life and he was sad Mr Salmond and Eilidh Whiteford in neighbouring Banff and Buchan had not retained their constituencies.
Mr Lochhead congratulated Mr Ross on his success.
He added: "Although we have policy differences I know we both want to do the best for Moray in terms of my role in the Scottish Parliament and his role in the House of Commons."