Week 29: Hero – Mhairi Black & The SNP

by Charlie_East_West on July 19, 2015


This week’s hero award goes to Mhairi Black for delivering one of the finest and most memorable House of Commons maiden speeches in recent times, and to the SNP for forcing the Tories into scrapping a vote to bring back fox hunting and also announcing that all of their MPs would give their £7,000 pay rise to charity.

There has been a whiff of ageism against 20 year old Mhairi Black since she ousted Douglas Alexander as the MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire South in the May 2015 General Election. We have witnessed ugly smear campaigns against her social media commentary – largely tweeted when she was aged 15, and the nasty undercurrent that she was ill equipped to be an MP because of her age. Well, this was put firmly to rest after she delivered a speech of humility, compassion and inspirational socialism as oratory. The speech left such an impression that it has received 10 million online viewings and she made the front page of the Guardian. A political star has been born.

I have a feeling that we are going to see and hear quite a lot from her. She appears to have that rarest of qualities, so lacking in a British politics – the common touch.

Here is her speech. It really is quite wonderful. Mhairi Black personifies the old adage – If you are good enough, you are old enough.

BBC Reporting Scotland chose to completely ignore the content of her speech, and instead focused on the SNP MPs clapping her speech. This is much media ado about nothing. The SNP clap good speeches. Whoopie-doo. Clapping is a bit more 21st Century than MPS bellowing “hear hear” and waving order papers like something out of a public school from the 18th century.

The SNP are providing a refreshing antedote to the pomposity of Westminster. This also applies to their debunking of pompous, antiquated policy. The SNP U-turned on their previous decision to avoid voting on English-only parliamentary votes – as they announced that they would be voting with Labour to block Tory plans to end the ban on English-based fox hunting. This forced the Tories to pathetically scrap the vote out of fear of losing.

A few anti-SNP snipers have commentated that the SNP U-turn on voting on English legislation destroys their credibility in a way similar to the Lib Dems / tuition fees. This is misplaced. The SNP U-turned to do the right thing on fox hunting. The Lib Dems U-turned to do the wrong thing on tuition fees. There is a huge difference.

The final part of an exeptionally good week for the SNP was their announcement that all Westminster SNP MPs would give their £7,000 pay rise to charity. Again, this is another example of the SNP quickly reacting to the public mood and again, doing the right thing.

Mhairi Black and her SNP colleagues are currently providing the real opposition at Westminster – they are stuffed full of fresh faced, energetic and highly skilled political operators. They are debunking the nonsense traditions of the House of Commons; they are blocking bad legislation; they are announcing populist but correct statements of intent against the Tories.

They are giving Labour a lesson on how to behave like an effective opposition party.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Fionauk512 July 20, 2015 at 11:35 am

It is refreshing to witness, I hope it is sustained and over time convinces people that there is no certainty of business as usual in Westminster. What has been really interesting is the establishment’s response to that speech. Commentators of different political persuasions still seeking to dismiss her even those who claim to be impressed by the speech. Such a lack of grace and ambition in so many. Naysayers are two a penny, here’s hoping the SNP continue to hold up the mirror to the rest of the house.


Ray_North July 20, 2015 at 11:37 am

Great great speech. I hope she’s able to cope with the Westminster bullshit – i suspect she is.


ScotsJock July 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm

I have to say I’m rather disappointed in this review, which echoes the sycophantic praise of the populist SNP. Don’t get me wrong, I have voted SNP before, and I probably will do so again, but I firmly believe that without an informed electorate, we cannot have a well-functioning democracy, and the writers here at this blog have so far either not looked critically at the SNP’s record in power, or simply ignored it.

For example, the SNP voting against the ban on fox-hunting, whilst admirable, highlights their inadequacy. The change in law they voted against would actually bring English law in line with the legislation Scotland currently has, which means the SNP have voted for stricter fox-hunting laws in England, whilst retaining the very law they voted against in Scotland, and have kept enshrined in law since they have been in power, which is over 8 years now.

It was a populist move, similar to the pay rise they donated to charity, which deflects critical thinking on their record and policy. Most, including people on this blog, refer to the SNP as Left, Leftwing, Socialist and all other praise that would make you think that they are a progressive left of centre party. The reality is that apart from a few token left populist policies such as opposition to Trident, the SNP’s record has shown that they are a centre-right party, who have a record in Scotland that David Cameron would have been proud of.

Spending on education decreased under their Government, healthcare spending increased a below-inflation level of just 1% over the last 5 years, as opposed to the Tory increase of 4%. The SNP quietly privatised many services, in particular the ferry services which serve the highlands and islands, and when asked about their redistributive policies, Nicola Sturgeon could only think of one that has been introduced in their 8 years of being in Government.

This ignores the cynical tactics, such as burying a Scottish Government-commissioned report into the Oil and Gas revenues from the North Sea, which were shown to be £40bn less than the SNP’s predictions.

We need to look critically at their policies, and scrutinise them as much as we would Tory, Labour and LD, and ensure that both we and the electorate get a balanced idea of exactly what the SNP stand for.

I for one am a socialist, and I refuse to vote for an SNP Government which is this right of centre. It is time to look beyond the rhetoric and narrative in the media, and look at the reality of the SNP, and equip voters with the level of information they deserve.


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