Regardless of how the British election turns out, the big winner will be Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP).

Despite the fact that she is nowhere on the ballot, she will be the most powerful politician in Britain in the weeks ahead. She is the Queen of Scots, the most powerful figure since Scotland created its own regional government in 1999.

Not since Charles Stewart Parnell and his Irish party held the balance of power in British parliament in the 1880s has there been anything like it.

Sturgeon is Scottish First Minister and expects to see her party grow from 11 to anywhere close to 57 seats out of the total of 59 Westminster seats allotted to Scotland. Some are predicting all 59 could fall to the SNP.

In the process, the SNP has destroyed the Labour party in Scotland and made themselves the kingmakers after the election.

Sturgeon and Labour leader Ed Miliband have been acting like two spurned suitors in the lead up to the election but there is no doubt that, come Friday, a Labour minority government propped up by the SNP will be a hot topic, as both Tories and Labour seek those all important 323 seats for a working majority.

Sturgeon will be no pushover. At age 44 and from a working class background, her career contrasts greatly with the gilded world of public schools and Oxford that Prime Minister David Cameron and Miliband enjoyed.

Sturgeon advanced in politics the old-fashioned way. Daughter of an electrician and a dental nurse, she attended the unfashionable University of Glasgow where she took a law degree. She joined the SNP in its infancy and lost several races before she was elected to the Scottish Parliament.

She is a street fighter, well able to handle the cut and thrust. She won the only leader’s debate of the election, leaving many in England wishing they could vote for her as she is so impressive.

Sturgeon is a straight shooter who answered direct questions with straight answers, and she will have many such questions to answers on Friday morning.

Both major parties in Britain are deadlocked. The SNP and the Liberal Democrats are the two outside parties in play. While Scottish voters decided against independence, they got a taste of political power in the way the London-based parties reacted and delivered on previously broken promises.

Now Sturgeon is in a unique position to deliver again. Charles Stewart Parnell wanted home rule, Sturgeon’s ultimate goal is independence. Will she succeed in the future where Parnell failed?

Her hand will be immeasurably strengthened after today’s election.