by Colin Campbell
IAN Blackford tried to inject a flash of wit into his usual diatribe of bluster at PMQs.
He told Boris Johnson: ” “When I’ve called on this Prime Minister to resign, I’ve always been met by a wall of noise from the Tory benches. I always thought they were trying to shout me down. But, all this time, it turns out that 41% of them have actually been cheering me on.”
Not bad, by his standards. The last time he cracked a joke at the weekly Westminster session was last year when he said it was his fervent hope that Scotland would not be dragged out of the Euros football tournament “against our will”.
Blackford’s relationship with humour is a matter of noting the time and the date. In fact you barely need to, as they are so notable for their rarity.
Johnson may or may not be a liability for the Union. On the plus side pleas from Nicola Sturgeon for another referendum will be swatted aside like an irritable midge, presenting her with problems in fending off her own frothing at the mouth supporters.
On the downside, a large number of Scots don’t like him because of his manner, his style, his English “Eton toff” background and for many just because he’s a Tory. His successor, if there was to be one, would attract much the same reaction.
But he has made it crystal clear he is going nowhere, and there is now no mechanism to remove him. Call it determination, stubbornness, arrogance or pig headedness, but this supposed “Dead man walking” will take the high road for quite some time yet.
And even the BBC and other media outlets can’t keep the partygate witchhunt going forever.
But whether or not Johnson is a liability to the Union, there is absolutely no doubt that Ian Blackford is an outsize, monstrous liability to the SNP.
It would be interesting to see a favourability rating poll among those who wish to remain in the UK on “the simple 10 acres crofter”.
He’d be about as popular as an outbreak of swine flu on a pig farm.
It is literally impossible to find anyone who has a good thing to say about him. And he’s no poster boy with many nationalists either.
The fact that he’s a luxury Range Rover loving, money-grubbing political hypocrite scarcely enhances his reputation.
He rakes in £250,000 a year in expenses alone from a Westminster system he claims to despise, and a vast salary on top of that. And he still, risibly, tries to present himself as a champion of the poor. Those folk, that is, who can’t afford to treat themselves to luxury Range Rovers like the beauty he was pictured standing beside at an Inverness showroom after he’d bought it for his wife.
Routinely mocked and jeered, Blackford up to now has been treated as a Westminster irrelevance.
But yesterday, only hours after Boris Johnson had survived a no confidence vote, his name appeared in more serious vein.
Deftly, the SNP figure of fun was transformed into a participant in “a nightmare scenario”. As the face and voice of the SNP propping up a minority Labour Government.
As one English paper asked of its readers: “Keir Starmer as Prime Minister and Ian Blackford as Home Secretary. How does that grab you?” The theme was picked up by Johnson in response to questions from Blackford.
The Tories and their powerful media supporters have used this tactic before, warning disgruntled Tory voters threatening to sit out the election that they were opening the door to a Labour/SNP Government. The nats may wail about Project Fear or Project Terror, as they wish.
But it’s also been Project Highly Effective.
This time they have Ian Blackford as the nigh on perfect poster boy to scare the living daylights out of disgruntled Tory voters.
Boris/the Tories or Blackford? What’s it to be?
And there can only be one conceivable answer to that.
Blackford’s attempt to curry favour with the nationalists racist brigade when he gleefully endorsed a border sign which had been doctored to tell those south of the border to f*** off during the pandemic will neither be forgiven nor forgotten.
Nor will his hounding and subsequent cringing apology to a Highland based English photographer who he eagerly targeted in the mistaken belief that he’d broken lockdown rules.
It may be too early yet to spend too much time on the nightmare scenario that could face voters at the next election. But south of the border, the Tories will ensure they have plenty time to work on it.
We still have Nicola Sturgeon’s non-existent referendum to look forward to next year, before the 2024 General Election. So a lot can change between now and then.
But many English people despise what with much justification they see as the anti-English, racist SNP.
Nicola Sturgeon, no longer the charming UK golden girl she once was but now viewed as an obsessive, lying harridan, keeps a lower profile, north of the border.
But Blackford, who embarrasses Scotland every week, is down there in London right in their faces.
A Labour/SNP alliance with the likes of him holding sway over their lives? That really is the stuff of nightmares for those Blackford told to **** off.
In trying to win back Tory voters at crunch time in an election, the puce faced little fatman is the best recruiting sergeant Boris Johnson and the Tories could ever have.