“I have a record as a hard-working MP putting people first and I should be judged upon that.” Those were the words of Ian Blackford as he launched his re-election campaign in Skye earlier this week.
Addressing a group of around 40 supporters in Somerled Square in the centre of Portree on Monday morning, Mr Blackford placed the issue of Brexit front and centre of his election rally cry. He said: “We are simply not prepared to sit back and allow Boris Johnson and the Vote Leave campaign that have been running the government in London to take us out of the union against our will!
“We will not allow Boris Johnson to rip us away from Europe and deny the rights that EU citizens have here in Scotland.”
Mr Blackford, who has led the SNP at Westminster since June 2017, said the election was also about “Scotland’s right to choose” and that “nobody; Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson or anyone else” could stop Scotland determining its own future.
“Scotland is not going to be shut down. Scotland is going to express its voice. Let’s win this election, and then let’s make sure we move on to independence.”
Speaking to the Free Press after the launch of his campaign on Monday, Mr Blackford said that, while he appreciated voters would be fatigued by the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the situation was a real worry for people not just in his constituency but across the Highlands. “People here predominantly voted to remain and this election for us is about saying let’s stop Brexit and the way to stop Brexit is to make sure we get Scottish independence,” he said.
“It is making sure that we have these links with Europe and these opportunities that we have got used to are not taken away from us.”
Asked why voters should place their faith in him, he said he had been successful in facilitating the return of VAT taken from the emergency services, fought for investment in broadband and mobile connectivity, and stood up for people having problems with the Department for Work and Pensions.
He said: “I’ve actually had 16,000 constituents who have come to us in the last four years that we have engaged with and tried to help. There have been many immigration cases that I have faced and been able to overturn as well.
“I have a record as a hard-working MP, putting people first, and I should be judged upon that.”
Last week, the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson performed a U-turn. Having been primed to take up the post of senior adviser with a public relations firm, earning £50,000 for 25 days’ work a year, Ms Davidson bowed to political pressure and decided against taking the position.
Outwith Westminster, Ian Blackford holds two paid positions – one as chairman of the Golden Charter Trust Ltd for which he receives £3,193 for eight hours’ work per quarter, while the other is as chairman of Commsworld Plc for which he is paid £1,000 a month for eight hours’ work per quarter.
Asked whether a political representative should hold paid positions outwith their parliamentary role, he said: “One thing I would say is that I have been a full-time MP. I have made sure I have committed myself to this constituency over the course of the last four years, and I want the ability to do that on an ongoing basis as well. I think anyone can see the work that I do – I probably put in a minimum of 70 hours per week in my parliamentary activity. That is my focus.
“I have some historic interests – I will be looking to bring those to a close in a timely manner. But that is not a distraction from the work I am doing as the local MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber.”
The Free Press wants to hear the views of all political candidates in our circulation area in the run-up to the UK General Election on Thursday 12th December.
Article by Adam Gordon