by Colin Campbell
“AND so it begins” sighed Ross MP and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford in a Twitter posting.
And begin it did, as defections from the SNP to Alex Salmond’s new Alba party turned the level of infighting among nationalists into a frenzy of fury, recrimination and loathing.
But “simple 10-acres crofter” Blackford wasn’t referring to that as he took refuge from it all on his Skye retreat.
It was the prospect of the gruelling time ahead in the lambing season that captivated the attention of the lean, wiry, gnarled man of the soil.
Some have cast scorn on Blackford’s claim to be a crofter.
But he took steps to reinforce that image by posting a video of himself carrying an empty pail as he waddled along a road with a flock of sheep on his Twitter site.
This is a common practice among real crofters at lambing time, posting videos of themselves on their Twitter sites notifying people of the morning, noon and sometimes all night vigil they face in tending their flock.
As I recall, my late father, a lifelong crofter who passed away in 1978, was hardly ever off Twitter at lambing time and frequently posted individual updates on each slime and entrails covered new arrival to emerge from a groaning sheep with messages like, “Ooh, another one, I love her to bits”, and “Oh my goodness, twins, the little darlings are as pretty as the Nolan sisters.” Other crofters posting back on forth to each other on Twitter in the middle of the night would also include pictures of themselves cuddling or even kissing the new lambs while feeding them Maltesers.
However lean, wiry, gnarled Blackford looked up for the gruelling challenge ahead and his fitness for it didn’t seem in doubt as he waddled along in the sunshine showing no signs of strain from bearing the weight of the empty pail.
Perhaps inevitably he couldn’t entirely escape politics and was called on to denounce the departure of fellow SNP MP Kenny MacAskill to the Alba party which he did, saying good riddance.
This generated a vicious backlash from some nationalists which was more Silence of the Lambs than lambing season in their vengeful, semi-deranged fury.
Some town dwellers would be a tad squeamish about watching a crofter lamb a sheep, particularly if it’s a difficult birth and the critter is positioned at an awkward angle. I’ve seen it many times, and done it a couple of times with teeth gritted, and it’s always a helluva relief when the newborn finally slides out onto an awaiting bed of hay.
But it’s still a less gory spectacle than the rancid dismembering of the SNP, who it becomes ever clearer could hardly organise a communal sheep dipping, far less create and run a newly independent country.
Ian Blackford is himself up to his neck in SNP slime, having whipped up the party’s sizeable lunatic fringe into believing a referendum will take place in 2021, even though he must know a legal referendum is not going to happen this year, and probably for years ahead.
The “simple 10-acres crofter” also notoriously claimed £256,000 expenses in one year from a Westminster system he claims he wants to destroy.
Some Twitter users wished him well for the lambing season but others were less complimentary, saying the video of Blackford and his sheep looked like a rehearsal for him leading SNP supporters to the polls. This was a reference to dumb, blind obedience and a willingness to be shepherded unquestioningly in any direction Blackford and Sturgeon and co want them to go.
Some questioned if Blackford really would be doing all the lambing graft himself or whether he would be employing others to do it for him.
And others said he’d have found it less taxing to escort the sheep along the road in the luxury new Range Rover he bought last year for his wife.
Fellow crofters everywhere will be looking for more Twitter updates on his lambing season from authentic crofter Blackford, cuddling his innocent little newborns, before they’re routinely indoctrinated into the “rapidly growing” membership of the SNP.