After five years in Westminster, Ian Blackford will be best remembered for his rhetorical but fiery speeches in the Commons and the weekly chorus of loud groans delivered by Conservative MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Despite his dogged efforts to hold a series of Tory prime ministers to account – with Boris Johnson going toe-to-toe in a way that the more cautious Keir Starmer never felt able to – the outgoing SNP leader has his own MPs have had a turbulent time, much of it self-inflicted.
their handling of sexual harassment claims It was widely criticized after a leaked recording made against MP Patrick Grady by a youth staffer urged colleagues to support Grady after he failed to mention his victim.
He was also forced to deny a claim earlier this year, which he described as a “crude attempt at political stigma”.that he had “regularly assaulted” an SNP staffer in the House of Commons, which allegedly led to an official bullying complaint.
The 61-year-old MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber started 2022 by accusing Boris Johnson of deliberately misleading parliament, after Sue Gray’s preliminary report found the Partygate scandal “difficult to justify”.
Blackford’s determination in the Commons often left him open to playground-style insults from MPs, including Johnson, who mocked his weight. The pair were said to have enjoyed a cordial private relationship, however, a fact not lost on some of his own backbenchers, who viewed his “comfortable” attachment to Westminster with suspicion.
The outgoing leader is known for his love of a stunt, when he was thrown out of the chamber in 2018 after former speaker John Bercow refused to sit in protest for failing to debate what he called a Brexit “power”. . “grabbing” from Scotland, which prompted a mass walkout from allies.
Blackford describes himself as a “humble crofter”, and regularly posts beautiful pictures of his island home on social media, but in fact he enjoyed a 20-year career in finance before becoming a politician . Born in Edinburgh, he worked as a managing director of NatWest Securities before becoming non-executive chairman of the telecommunications firm in 2006.
After two unsuccessful attempts to win a seat, Blackford managed to defeat Charles Kennedy in 2015 after a campaign mired in controversy over online abuse aimed at the former Liberal Democrat leader and his long-running battle with alcoholism. went. He now holds the seat with a majority of just under 10,000 votes.
After two decades in the SNP’s political wilderness after attacking the SNP’s then party leader Alex Salmond, Blackford returned as leader of the party’s Westminster group in 2017, taking over from Angus Robertson. He has been credited with bringing more SNP politicians into the party. Commons, where the party holds 45 of the 59 Scottish seats in the chamber.
However, some of her MPs were jittery about Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to turn the next general election into a de facto independence referendum, and wanted a leader who would be prepared to challenge it. They would expect Blackford’s successor, at this stage the most likely to be Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn, to do so.