New SNP Westminster leader side-steps calls for firmer leftwing approach 

Ian Blackford: “won’t take any lessons” from Jeremy Corbyn on opposing austerity 

THE NEW LEADER of the SNP group at Westminster, Ian Blackford MP had said opposing a hard Brexit will “first and foremost” be his priority, rather than taking a firmer leftwing approach in response to the challenge from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

Asked on Reporting Scotland whether his group leadership would follow the advice of colleague Tommy Sheppard MP, who has recommended a leftwing strategy to win back voters, Blackford insisted that Brexit would remain a pressing priority alongside the general interests of “the people of the country”.

Asked whether the party should move to the left, Blackford replied: “I think what we have to do in this parliament is make sure we speak up for the people of the country and I think we have a very important job to do over the coming weeks and months because we have a government that certainly doesn't have a mandate for a hard Brexit. 

“I think the people of Scotland want their interests to be protected and that's first and foremost what we will be doing and really demanding that not just Scotland, but all the other devolved nations, are involved round the table in the discussion that will take place.”

He added: “Secondly I think we have stood on a mandate of anti-austerity and we won't take any lessons from Jeremy Corbyn or anybody else on that.”

Blackford, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, was previously an investment banker. He also previously chaired the Glendale Trust on Skye, which promotes “the public benefit of rural regeneration in areas of social and economic deprivation” in Glendale.

Read more - Jeremy Corbyn pledges to win hearts of Scottish left-wing voters

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the General Election result, where the SNP won a majority of seats but fell from 56 to 35 MPs, was an opportunity to “reflect” on the party’s future. 

Sheppard, who is on the left of the SNP, called for “a radical review of how we do things” to ensure that the party wins the campaign for left-minded voters in Scotland. In a message to supporters he said: “There is no doubt that a Corbyn surge was responsible for many people who had voted SNP in 2015 deciding to lend their vote to Labour this time.”

Labour, which had almost been wiped out in Scotland two years ago to just a solitary MP, experienced a late ‘Corbyn surge’ in the weeks prior to polling day - enough to win seats in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, and the Lothians from the SNP. 

A further five SNP seats are now on tiny majorities of under one per cent of the vote ahead of Labour. 

In a boast that his leadership - challenging British politics on inequality, public services and foreign policy - was working, Corbyn told the seven Scottish MPs now at Westminster: “Labour’s back in Scotland, and we’re going to be back in even bigger number as soon as the next election comes. And it will not be long.”

A range of SNP figures, including Sheppard, Ronnie Cowan MP, Alex Neil MSP, former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars, SNP Youth Vice Convener and SNP Socialists Convener Rory Steel, Iain Black, co-founder of Smaug (SNP members against unconventional oil and gas), and Edinburgh West SNP activist Ian Grant all put their names to a six part policy proposal to “renew” the SNP’s domestic agenda. 

Picture courtesy of Màrtainn MacDhòmhnaill

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Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 15:35

Well the SNP numpties need to take lessons from SOMEONE.

The SNP has foolishly AGREED with an AUSTERITY Fiscal Framework Agreement in February 2016 - the SNP imposing austerity on Scotland by forbidding the Scottish government from borrowing £ billions a year more for the Scottish government budget which would be enough to make austerity a thing of the past.

The SNP is telling a BARE-FACED lie if it claims to be ANTI-austerity AND PRO an austerity fiscal framework.

The SNP cannot credibly disagree with austerity AND agree with an austerity fiscal framework at the same time.

The SNP position is simply not logical. It's a lie. It is unintelligent and uneducated.

The simultaneously anti & pro austerity SNP is a two headed monster.

Mike Peddie

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 17:37

When did the Scottish Government get borrowing powers allowing it to borrow "£ billions"?

And when is the SNP supposed to have "forbidden" the Scottish Government from using said powers?

I must have missed these significant developments.

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 20:12

@Mike Peddie

The borrowing powers of the Scottish government were defined in -

"The Agreement Between the Scottish Government and the United Kingdom Government on the Scottish Government's fiscal framework
Friday, February 26, 2016"

Therein borrowing powers of the order of £100s of millions a year for several years are agreed.

But to answer your questions

* NEVER 'did the Scottish Government get borrowing powers allowing it to borrow "£ billions"?'

(It NEVER got those powers because it agreed a fiscal framework WITHOUT such borrowing powers.)

* ON SIGNING AND AGREEING THE AFOREMENTIONED "Fiscal Framework Agreement", on Friday, 26th February 2016, the SNP Government of Nicola Sturgeon forbade itself said powers.

If you follow Scottish politics (but not what I say about Scottish politics) then you will at best only have a recollection of how the fiscal framework agreement was reported at that time.

BBC - Fiscal framework: Scottish and UK governments agree deal

The SNP attempted to spin the daylight robbery of the Scottish government's borrowing powers as some kind of "good deal" which really proves how expertly the UK Treasury negotiating team played Swinney and Sturgeon like a violin, how the SNP had their strings pulled by Chancellor George Osborne and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg "sleight of" Hands.

Critical to misleading the SNP into accepting a rotten "crumbs from the master's table" deal was the very poor advice they got from Professor Anton Muscatelli. (Link follows)

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 20:08

Holyrood - Fiscal framework a ‘good deal’, says top economist Anton Muscatelli

Quite a "nutty professor", an economically illiterate fiscal conservative, passing himself off as a "top economist".

Buzz Auldyin

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 20:26

It seems all very well moving to the left in order to win back seats that were lost to Labour but twice as many seats were lost to the Conservatives. What sense is there in losing twelve seats to win six?
The be-all and end-all for me is independence and if that isn't clearly prioritised in SNP campaigning, the party will always be in danger of slipping through the left-right cracks in the Unionist framework.
A General Election is first and foremost about deciding which party will go to London to form the next UK government; the SNP can't possibly win that contest so it will always be handicapped if it joins battle on that territory. There are plenty of pro-independence voters whose short term priority was to prevent May or Corbyn from moving into No.10. Those people are not lost to the independence cause. In the meantime, the SNP should strongly assert its identity as the party which is most likely to deliver Scottish independence and leave the Westminster pantomime to those parties which are completely committed to it.

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