by Colin Campbell
THE “simple 10-acres crofter” has planted his foot in the manure yet again. The best the SNP can offer up at Westminster is a hapless clown who can’t even get his facts right on Twitter. He exposes the party that aspires to run “a free Scotland” to further derision and contempt. It’s beyond pathetic. If it wasn’t so serious it would be a national joke.
The question is – how long will they let Ian Blackford get away with it? And where is the tipping point at which the nationalists decide he’s a surefire vote loser who is damaging their cause and is a liability they can no longer afford.
Blackford has been there before, but this time it’s different.
He has been shown up as a fool, as a man capable of chronic misjudgement, and worst of all as a repugnant bully with a nasty streak stretching from Lands End to John O’ Groats.
His latest affront to decency came as a result of a picture of a spectacular array of lights in the north sky posted by a devoted photographer.
Blackford was on to it like a bolt of lightning. Not with praise, admiration or commendation for the skill and timing involved in capturing the shot. Oh no, not Ian Blackford. He instead stated on Twitter, in a tone positively dripping with “Gotcha” sarcasm and smugness: “As you live in the south of England and travel to Scotland is only for permitted reasons I am sure there will be a valid reason as to why you are posting a photo from the north of Scotland last night.”
His smugness lasted about as long as the sky lightshow when the photographer, Ollie Taylor, replied that the picture was taken five minutes walk away from his home in Caithness, which he moved to last summer.
Mr Taylor subsequently said: “I really think he was trying to stir up public hatred with this.”
This was further evidence, if any were needed, of what a thoroughly unpleasant character Ian Blackford is.
As the SNP’s leader at Westminster he is, God help us, a national figure. And yet he was disgustingly eager to exploit his position to publicly name and shame an ordinary citizen who was just taking photographs. To bring him to national prominence as a reckless rule breaker, and heap upon him all the humiliation and embarrassment that would go along with it.
What loathsome behaviour.
Blackford apologised – what else could he do?
But with typical pomposity he defended his actions by saying: “As the local MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber I know my constituents feel very strongly about the breaking of travel restrictions that we see across the Highlands and islands, which puts people’s lives and our public services at risk.
“I will continue to stand up for my constituents who frequently raise these concerns with me but I recognise that it was wrong to query an individual on Twitter and I apologise to @OllieTPhoto for my earlier post, which I have deleted.”
That’s some defence. So, when his back’s against the wall, he resorts to weasel-worded whimpering with a “justification” that has absolutely no credibility whatsoever.
If that photograph had been posted by a “rule-breaker” from Perth or Glasgow or Edinburgh it’s an absolute certainty that Blackford would have made no mention of it at all. Does anyone seriously believe that he would have?
The key words here are “England” and “English”.
As we know all too well, Blackford has form here. Earlier in the year he gleefully endorsed a large sign at the border which had been doctored to say: “F*** off, we’re shut.”
This disgraceful piece of vandalism was all too obviously directed at English people. And the SNP leader couldn’t wait to add his crude, corpulent weight to it to ensure it received maximum publicity.
At the time the threat of the virus appeared to be receding. Across the UK people were on the move again. The Highland tourist industry was on its knees, with several hotels in Blackford’s own constituency having gone bust, and as I wrote at the time it was utterly vital that an influx of visitors from south of the border should arrive here to at least partially rescue it. Blackford’s involvement sent a terrible message to anyone thinking of travelling to Scotland and the Highlands. It was an appallingly irresponsible way for a man in his position to behave. And the anti-English timing couldn’t have been worse. But that wasn’t a problem for Ian Blackford.
And why should it have been? In 2018/19 he was the second highest expenses claimant – raking in a total of £256,000 – from a Westminster system he claims he wants to destroy, with his big, fat salary on top of that. The man who depicts himself as “a simple 10-acres crofter” was pictured buying his wife a top of the range Range Rover to add to whatever fleet of vehicles he’s got parked in his Skye barn.
This “simple crofter” malarkey may have started out as an in-joke among his SNP cronies, a joke that the rest of us just didn’t get. But even within the SNP, the joke’s now wearing very thin. And there’s the rub. Many serious minded people within the SNP are becoming as sick and tired of Ian Blackford as the rest of us are.
A week last Sunday he gave a “referendum pledge” interview – meaningless, evasive, devoid of anything other than wishful thinking – to the vile National newspaper which SNP supporters tore apart. The influential pro-independence Wings over Scotland website reprinted it with its creator, Stuart Campbell, saying he had decided not to comment because “it would just be an angry rant, so instead we’ll just let our readers make their own judgements on how convinced they are by this bloviating guff”.
And the readers duly delivered, en masse. If lean, wiry, weatherbeaten crofter Blackford’s ever once handled a pitchfork in his entire life, he’d have been left in no doubt where he should shove it.
I couldn’t care less about internal SNP feuding. As far as I’m concerned, the more of it the merrier. But when I saw his latest anti-English swipe at that humble photographer I couldn’t help but wonder if it was another attempt to pander to “the base”, to crawl back into their favour, and gain some cheap popularity among the significant number of English-haters in the nationalist movement.
Even after this latest travesty, the SNP will probably give him another pass and let him bellow and bluster on until he steps into the next patch of manure. That probably won’t be long in coming. The nationalists will NEVER win independence as long as undecided voters see that the likes of Ian Blackford could end up in a position of supreme power running the country. So if the nats are happy leaving this character in his current eminent position others who think like I do should be also.
We have to regret the hugely awkward and embarrassing position Ollie Taylor has been placed in by this nationalist clown. But we also have to add that, as it turns out, when he posted that beautiful picture for Ian Blackford to admire, he ended up doing as all a favour.