Sturgeon’s Sprats: from Ben Nevis to Big Ben
13 August 2015, Blog
This summer witnessed an exceptional moment in electoral history. Like the animal that adorns the national Standard, the SNP “roared” its way across Scotland, producing a landslide victory for the nationalist party at the General Election. With a significant majority of these new MPs lacking any real political experience (which may prove to be no bad thing), it was unclear how this cohort would exercise their clout.
From clapping in Parliament to posing for pictures with the Dispatch Box, “#the56” have been breaking with tradition and causing a stir in Westminster. Labour’s disastrous performance in May, coupled with a number of public divisions within the party have also allowed for SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson to position his party as the only credible opposition to the Conservative Government (indeed he’s joked about Labour and the SNP swapping seats in the Commons).
Although the SNP are arguably still finding their feet in Parliament, they have already indicated what their priorities for the forthcoming five years are likely to be. Unsurprisingly further devolution for Scotland remains at the top of this list, along with English Votes for English Laws, and the issues surrounding the UK’s membership to the EU. They have broken with their long standing convention to refrain from voting on “matters that purely affect south of the border” in the interest of this agenda; ensuring that they are a major player in Parliament at every possible opportunity.
There are a few faces worth keeping an eye on, especially if you’re planning on heading north for the SNP conference in Aberdeen this October. Some you’ll recognise, such as Spokesperson for International Affairs and Europe, Alex Salmond, but others might be less familiar. For example you might not know Ian Blackford, the new MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (the late Charles Kennedy’s seat) and bitter rival to Salmond; the pair have a long-standing internal feud.
Some of the newer movers and shakers within the party are fairly young – you’ll have seen the recently graduated Mhairi Black, the youngest MP in the House of Commons, but she’s not the only one who might still get ID’d in the pub. Stuart Donaldson, elected at the tender age of 23, is keeping it in the family as he follows in the footsteps of his Grandfather Hamish Watt, a former SNP MP in the 1970s.
With little known about the party, and with so many of its new MPs seemingly plucked from obscurity, our Briefing will act as your definitive guide to the SNP in Westminster.
By Roz Platt, Account Manager