Ian Blackford rode a pantomime horse to battle

Ian Blackford rode a pantomime horse to battle

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Thursday 14, June, 2018

THE SNP can always be relied upon to resort to grudge-laden media stunts when things don't go its way. Its politicians’ lack of respect for democracy and accountability at Holyrood rode south to London yesterday.

Only it was no warhorse that Ian Blackford, SNP Westminster leader, rode in on. It was a pantomime nag that buckled under the weight of events leaving a sorry troupe of second-rate performers in Parliament Square yesterday.

It was like watching a middle aged lecturer in tweed handcuff himself to a gate and calling the national press for attention, a dippy green protest against putting wheels on trees or some such nonsense.

There are still legitimate reasons to be unhappy about the Brexit Bill regarding devolution. The fact is time has moved on and the current offering is much better than that of many months ago and there continues to be dialogue between the UK and Holyrood. 

The position that transitioning to Brexit must mean a temporary delay in powers returning to Holyrood is not one I fully share but given the state of the SNP and its approach to serious debate is there any wonder some have no faith in them at all to handle this properly?

It is the UK government and no one else that can negotiate Brexit. Trips by the First Minister to lobby Michel Barnier against the UK’s position helps no one but the EU – the same EU that would kick Scotland to the Kerb like it did Catalonia.

There has been a HUGE amount of time in various fora to discuss devolution – with much has being discussed – and all despite the SNP forcing through a no consent motion while talks continue.

Public bull-in-china-shop displays are, or at least were, the reserve of countries like North Korea whose leader has appeared far more statesmanlike than the SNP leadership of late. That should be a wake up call as to how politicians should behave.

Of course we have been here before. In 2003 another bunch of slack jawed ideologues stormed out of parliament. This time it was the SSP walking from Holyrood. They ended up being banned from the place for a month with their pay docked.

John Swinney had some choice words at the time,

"All this crowd are interested in doing is performing stunts and disrupting parliament.

"They've got a privileged position, they're members of a democratic parliament."

Well said and wise indeed. Sad that fifteen years on his own party has evolved into a similar beast.

It is increasingly a party not fit for opposition let alone government. For wooing potential supporters of an independent Scotland that doesn't sound like an effective sales pitch to me.

Alex Salmond was famously ejected from the Commons in the mid 1980s. It launched his career but crucially he made his intervention on an issue of national importance where the Commons was the only chamber competent to have such a debate. He also was ejected on his own for his owntransgression. It was more focused and so much neater.

That Blackford's stunt was planned and co-ordinated was a denigration of the role of Parliament. That his MPs followed suit and pointed and sneered at MPs in a premeditated manner was vile and unbecoming. To be more, slightly more, expected of die-hard Irish republicans or a far right mob marching, than the third largest party in the House.

An average tactic but a strategic blunder. Blackford undid many years of work the SNP put in to make itself credible to the middle classes of Central Belt Scotland. He did so for a mess of porridge.

Believe me, this marks a permanent decline in the credibility of the party; any recovery will be incredibly slow and difficult.


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