The SNP win's ramifications for life at Westminster
The SNP's stunning landslide victory is going to have all kinds of ramifications in Westminster. Leaving aside the painful soul-searching Scottish Labour will be undertaking, the first effects will be felt when the Scotland Bill returns to the Commons.
MPs were due to polish off their consideration of the measure, which extends the taxation powers of the Scottish Parliament on 21 March - but that was postponed to allow MPs to debate the Libya intervention. And then the Bill had to be shelved (or "paused," as the Government prefers to say…) until after this week's election.
The SNP were not particularly keen on the Bill before, arguing that it should have included much more sweeping taxation and borrowing powers. And they are already promising to use their new authority as a majority Holyrood government to press for something closer to full "fiscal autonomy" to be added into the Bill when it comes back to the Commons for its delayed Report and Third Reading stages. No date for that has been set, but those issues are bound to re-surface.
One quirk of the current make-up of Parliament is that there are no SNP peers, so there will be no-one to put their amendments there… but there is a considerable phalanx of Scottish Conservatives, including former Secretary of State Michael Forsyth, as well as the high priest of Labour unionism, the former Home Secretary John Reid. That fact could have interesting implications.
And there's another peer who could be headed for a major role, when the SNP starts the legislative preparations for the Independence Referendum they're now promising for the second half of the newly-elected Scottish Parliament (2014?). Step forward the Advocate General for Scotland, the Lord Wallace of Tankerness, the artist formerly known as Jim Wallace, the Lib Dem Deputy First Minister in the first devolved Scottish Government.
It is he (assuming he's still in that office when the moment comes) who will have to rule on whether Holyrood has the power to hold a referendum - or whether primary legislation is needed in Westminster in order to authorise one.
There could be some very interesting manoeuvring around this question. Will the SNP Government manage to get a referendum via some fancy footwork, or will it have to ask Westminster?
Will the Government worry about the principle of granting a referendum to settle the question, just because a lot of people want it? If they do, why not a referendum on Europe? Or hanging, come to that? And what about the timing? Opponents of independence are already arguing for a referendum soon, on the basis that the Scottish economy cannot afford a prolonged period of uncertainty - and in the hope that it would then be defeated.
But with Alex Salmond commanding an unprecedented outright majority in Holyrood, he can control the timing of the vote and begin a prolonged campaign, with all the resources of the Scottish Government behind it, to persuade a Scottish electorate, which is only about one third in favour, to go for independence.
A new front has been opened in British politics - and if it culminates in an independent Scotland the politics of the remainder of the former UK will be changed for ever. Hold on to your hats…