SNP’s Ian Blackford to step down as MP at next general election

Former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has announced his intention to step down as MP for Ross, Skye, and Lochaber at the upcoming general election. Blackford has held the position since 2015 when he defeated ex-Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy. He led the SNP’s Westminster group for half a decade, facing four Conservative prime ministers during question time in the Commons. Blackford resigned as group leader in December, avoiding a potential challenge from his successor, Stephen Flynn.

Blackford became a prominent figure in the House of Commons through his weekly appearances at Prime Minister’s Questions. He was considered a close ally of Nicola Sturgeon, the former first minister and SNP leader who resigned earlier this year. However, Blackford drew criticism from some members of the party’s Westminster group for urging them to give “absolute full support” to SNP MP Patrick Grady, who had been suspended for sexual misconduct.

Blackford stated that he had thought “long and hard” about whether to stand in next year’s general election, expressing gratitude for the trust placed in him by his constituents. He added, “My desire to see Scotland become an independent country, and for our country and its people to achieve its full potential, remains as strong as when I first entered politics decades ago.”

Although he will not be standing for the Westminster Parliament at the next election, Blackford looks forward to continuing his work on a paper on Scotland’s industrial future, which he hopes will lead to “sustainable enhancement in economic growth, driving investment and better paid jobs in Scotland and raising living standards.” He also plans to continue as the first minister’s business ambassador on behalf of the SNP.

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Stephen Flynn, the current SNP group leader at Westminster, praised Blackford for playing a “massive role” in making the party a formidable force in Scottish and UK politics. Flynn expressed confidence that Blackford would continue to play a key role in the campaign for Scottish independence.

Blackford’s 2015 campaign to replace Charles Kennedy as MP for Ross, Skye, and Lochaber was marred by controversy over online abuse targeting the former Liberal Democrat leader and his struggle with alcoholism. Brian Smith, the local SNP branch convenor at the time, later resigned after it was reported that he had called Kennedy a “drunken slob” and “quisling-in-chief” in a series of tweets. Kennedy passed away from a major haemorrhage linked to his alcoholism just three weeks after the election.

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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