Scottish nationalists committed to independence from Britain became the biggest party in the Scottish parliament on Friday in elections which left a political headache for Prime Minister Tony Blair's successor.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) ended 50 years of Labor dominance in Scotland in Thursday's vote and Labor suffered heavy losses in local council elections in England and lesser losses in elections to the devolved Welsh assembly.
With Blair expected to announce next week he is stepping down as prime minister after a decade in power, he leaves a poisoned chalice to finance minister Gordon Brown, the 56-year-old Scot who is almost certain to succeed him.
The confusing victory for SNP was riddled with technical difficulties. The Nationalists have a very thin majority: 47 to Labour's 46 in the Scottish Parliament. Political analysis of these latest developments reveal a great fracture in the political climate in Britain.