Ian Blackford Resigns as Westminster Leader for SNP

Ian Blackford has announced he’s stepping down as the SNP’s leader in Westminster after five years in the role. His own MPs had been agitating for him to go – his handling of the Patrick Grady sexual harassment claims hardly doing him any favours. Sturgeon herself allegedly intervened to stop a coup two weeks ago. Now it’s finally reached a tipping point…

“I have today informed SNP MPs that I will not be restanding as leader of the Westminster parliamentary group at our AGM next week. After more than five years in the role, now is the right time for fresh leadership at Westminster as we head towards a general election and the next steps in winning Scotland’s independence.

“During my time as leader, the SNP won a landslide victory in the 2019 general election, with an increased share of the vote and MPs, and support for independence has continued to grow with polling this week showing a majority in favour.

“While I am stepping down as Westminster leader, I will continue in my role as the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber. and I have also accepted a new role at the centre of the SNP’s independence campaign, leading on business engagement.

“I would like to thank our MPs and staff for all their support over the past five years. Whoever replaces me as Westminster leader will have my full support as, together, we stand up for Scotland’s interests and democratic right to choose our future in an independence referendum.”

Stephen Flynn – who led the coup against Blackford – is the frontrunner to replace him…

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Blackford Changes Tune on Holidaying During Crisis

Those following Ian Blackford’s Twitter account over the past fortnight won’t have missed his recent holiday to the States. He began in Arizona on the 23rd, with a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon two days later. Monument Valley was on the agenda for the 27th, followed by Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah on the 30th. Utah got a second day’s exploration on August 1st, followed by Death Valley on the 2nd and Yosemite on the 3rd. Blackford finished up in San Francisco on the 6th. A lovely time enjoyed by all, not least Brits who avoided a whole two weeks of reduced preaching from the Celtic Crofter…

Imagine Guido’s surprise, therefore, when today’s National splash sees none other than Mr Blackford demanding Boris Johnson “comes out of hiding”, and accuses the PM of being “missing in action” during a cost of living crisis. One rule for a relaxed, tanned Blackford, another for everybody else…

“Every day people are waking up to warnings that the Tory-made cost-of-living crisis is spiralling out of control – with each report more worrying than the last. Yet the UK Prime Minister is missing in action.

“Boris Johnson might be on his way out – and rightly so – but for now he is still the Prime Minister, with duties to protect the people who live here. He must come out of hiding”

There’s another problem with Blackford’s demand other than the obviously hypocritical posturing: Boris’s holiday is already over – as one keen-eyed flyer proved via TikTok yesterday…

Presumably Keir Starmer would have been playing the same game had Boris not returned from holiday before him…

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WATCH: Blackford Asked Six Times if a Sex Pest Should be an MP

Away from the by-election drama, the SNP is still somehow tying itself in knots over Patrick Grady. Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon finally condemned Blackford and his Westminster colleagues for their “utterly unacceptable” support of Grady, only to then tell journalists she still had confidence in Blackford and wasn’t calling for his resignation. Now Blackford himself has spoken out on the leaked recording for the first time. Well, he’s spoken – he hasn’t answered many questions…

In an excruciating nine-minute STV interview, Blackford was asked six times if it’s permissible for a sex pest to be an MP. Not once did he give a straight answer. Instead, he claimed there had to be “due process”… even though there already has been, and Brady was found guilty:

“Patrick Grady was found guilty and has led to a suspension of him from Parliament for two days… There has to be due process in all of this and Patrick Grady was found guilty under that process and was dealt with and suspended from Parliament.”

Asked why he hasn’t just booted Grady out of the party, Blackford claimed:

“Well, because, at the end of the day, discipline within the SNP happens through a number of ways. It happens through actions taken by the SNP group, it can be actions taken by the SNP headquarters. And the decision that was taken on a proportionate basis given a two-day suspension by Parliament that Patrick Grady would be suspended for a week. Now, it’s up for Patrick Grady to reflect on his behaviour and where he goes from that.”

This morning, Guido spotted an SNP MP deciding to butt in on the issue of Dowden’s principled resignation. Perhaps they should get their own house in order…

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Sturgeon: Blackford’s Backing of Sex Pest Grady “Utterly Unacceptable”

Nicola Sturgeon has finally spoken out against Ian Blackford and the other SNP MPs for their backing of disgraced sex pest Patrick Grady. Having flown back to Britain from her Italian climate change summit, Sturgeon condemned the group – who were recorded clapping along for Grady earlier this week – for their “utterly unacceptable” behaviour during a FMQs session this afternoon:

The recording of the Westminster group meeting I think reveals part of what was wrong in that case. Indeed some of the individuals who were recorded at that meeting have already said this themselves. It demonstrated – and I wasn’t at the meeting, so whether this is an accurate overall reflection of discussion, I can’t comment on – but what I have heard suggests that more concern was shown for the perpetrator of this behaviour than was shown for the victim of it. I think that is utterly unacceptable and that is something I will be very clear about.”

Meanwhile Blackford’s own apology for the incident has been dismissed as a “cop out” by Brady’s victim…

 

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Blackford Finally Breaks Silence with “Publicity Stunt” Apology

Ian Blackford has been slammed by Patrick Grady’s victim after the SNP’s Westminster leader finally broke his silence and offered something vaguely resembling an apology. Blackford has pledged an “external review” of support available to staff who make complaints, as per Amy Callaghan’s request to the chief whip on Monday. He also says he “deeply regrets” the “inappropriate behaviour”. 

“As SNP Westminster leader, I have a duty of care to all of our staff. That is why I deeply regret that a member of staff was subject to inappropriate behaviour.

It was completely unacceptable and should never have happened. I am sorry that it did.”

At least, unlike Sturgeon, Blackford has said something and not jetted off to another country. Grady’s victim, however, slammed the statement as nothing more than a “publicity stunt”

“This is a publicity stunt by Ian in an effort to save his job, he hasn’t addressed his handling of the situation, he hasn’t addressed the seriousness of the upheld complaint, nor has he explained why he and the Chief Whip have given more focus to finding the leaker, than taking action on the harasser.”

Doesn’t sound like this’ll be the end of the matter…

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Things Can Only Get Worse for Blackford & SNP

Back in March Ian Blackford was forced to deny resignation rumours, amid claims published by Politico that he was planning to step down because of infighting among the party’s MPs. Now, due to mistakes of his own making, Blackford is actually having to fight for his job. 

On Friday, The Mail published an exclusive that Blackford had been recorded at an SNP MP meeting directing his group of parliamentarians to throw their support behind Patrick Grady, who earlier in the week had been found guilty of sexual harassment and sentenced to two days suspension. The recording heard Blackford say MPs should give him their “absolute full support”. A long way from when he proudly tweeted in 2017 “I am happy to affirm SNP Westminster group will have zero tolerance of unacceptable behaviour”…

The next day The Sun published the recording, in which SNP MPs are heard applauding and saying “hear, hear”, along with interventions from Amy Callaghan and Marion Fellows, a junior whip who worked for Grady. Following the recording leak, the SNP’s Westminster chief whip finally pulled his finger out… and threatened the leaker with legal action.

After all this farce, Guido can confidently say this scandal is not going to abate anytime soon. The complainer at the heart of the Grady investigation told LBC this morning that he’s “considering his options and they include possible legal action.” 

It’s also worth remembering that Patrick Grady is not alone in being accused of sexual impropriety by the victim. Also in attendance at Blackford’s pro-Grady rally, Guido’s told, was one Patricia Gibson, who is herself under investigation by the Commons’ Independent Expert Panel for sexual harassment. Gibson’s currently attempting to appeal the decision against her, dragging the process out. Guido hears the complainant actually reported the Gibson incident to the chief whip the very next day, however he was too busy to deal with it. The chief whip when the incident was reported? Mr Patrick Grady…

Reminder: 1 in 5 SNP MPs Have Quit, Been Sacked, are Under Investigation or Suspended…

UPDATE: SNP MP U-Turns on Patrick Grady Support, Offers Full Apology

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