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Ian Blackford (born 14 May 1961) is a Scottish politician serving as Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the House of Commons since 2017. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ross, Skye and Lochaber since 2015.


Ian Blackford

Official portrait of Ian Blackford crop 2.jpg
Leader of the Scottish National Party in the House of Commons
Assumed office
14 June 2017
DeputyKirsty Blackman
Preceded byAngus Robertson
Member of Parliament
for Ross, Skye and Lochaber
Assumed office
8 May 2015
Preceded byCharles Kennedy
Majority5,919 (15.4%)
Personal details
Born (1961-05-14) 14 May 1961 (age 58)
Edinburgh, Scotland
CitizenshipBritish
Political partyScottish National Party
WebsiteOfficial website

Originally from Edinburgh, he previously worked as an investment banker and has been involved with various business ventures since. He was the party's national treasurer from 1999 until 2000. Blackford has been Leader of the SNP Westminster Group since Angus Robertson lost his seat at the 2017 snap general election.

Early lifeEdit

Blackford was born in Edinburgh and educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh.[1][2]

Early and political careerEdit

Banking and businessEdit

Blackford worked as an analyst with NatWest Securities,[3] before moving to a managerial role. The company was bought by BT Alex. Brown, and Blackford became the managing director.[4] After further integration into Deutsche Bank AG in 1999, Blackford ran Deutsche Bank's equity operations in Scotland and the Netherlands.[5] Following 20 years in the financial industry, he left to do independent consultancy work, forming an investor relations company called First Seer in 2002.[6]

In 2005, Blackford joined the Dutch food and biochemicals company CSM as an investor relations manager.[7] He was appointed non-executive chairman of the Edinburgh-based telecommunications firm Commsworld in 2006,[8] having joined the board as a non-executive director in 2005.[6][9] He is a trustee at the Golden Charter Trust.[10] In 2013, he helped explain the business case for not closing a primary school in Milngavie when East Dunbartonshire Council had proposed closure.[11]

He is a prominent supporter of Hibernian football club.[12]

Glendale TrustEdit

He was previously the chairman of the Glendale Trust, an organisation responsible for a community-owned estate on Skye, which made an approach to Highland Council to bring a historic pier under community control.[13] Under his chairmanship, support was secured for establishing a heritage centre in 2010.[14] He had also been a member of the FlySkye group, campaigning to bring commercial air services back to Skye.[15][16]

Political careerEdit

Blackford stood as the SNP candidate for the Ayr constituency at the 1997 general election, but lost to Sandra Osborne of the Labour Party.

Later during the same year, he stood as the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate in the Paisley 1997 by-election[17] but again he was unsuccessful; the contest had the lowest turnout at a by-election in Scotland for thirty years.

Blackford had been treasurer of the SNP and during this time he began to be viewed as a critic of the party leader, Alex Salmond.[18] Blackford was removed from the post in 2000, after he had tried to impose financial controls to tackle the party's overdraft.[19] However, the limits for expenditure which he set were not adhered to.[20] Blackford's reputedly hard line over financial matters had led to a breakdown of trust between him and the national executive.[21]

Blackford has argued for better telecommunication infrastructure for rural areas, noting that video-conferencing is one way of overcoming travel time and in the absence of air links.[22] Following the financial crisis of 2007–08 he has made calls for Scotland to have its own financial regulator, to protect society from irresponsible practices.[23][24] Blackford has also suggested that a zero rate of capital gains tax could help Scotland to attract investment.[25]

Following the electorate's decision to reject independence at the referendum on 18 September 2014, Blackford argued that Scotland should consider the constitutional change offered by the main unionist parties.[26] He was the author of a report which had explored options for the banking sector in Scotland, had the country voted to become independent.[27]

In January 2015, it was announced that Blackford would be the SNP candidate for Ross, Skye and Lochaber at the 2015 general election.[28] He received 20,119 votes and 48.1% of the vote, defeating the former Liberal Democrat party leader and incumbent MP, Charles Kennedy, by 5,124 votes.[29]

SNP Westminster leaderEdit

He was re-elected at the 2017 general election. On 14 June 2017, he was elected as leader of the SNP Westminster Group, succeeding Angus Robertson who had lost his seat.[30] On 19 July he was appointed a member of the Privy Council.[31] Additionally, he has served as a member of the secret Intelligence and Security Committee, which scrutinises the work of the UK intelligence agencies. On 25 April 2019 it was reported that he had "stood down" from this role, to be "replaced by Stewart Hosie".[citation needed]

PMQs walkoutEdit

During the 13 June 2018 session of Prime Minister's Questions, Blackford, along with almost all sitting Scottish National Party MPs, walked out of the House of Commons after Blackford raised a question to Prime Minister Theresa May regarding both no Scottish MP being given time to debate the Scotland-related areas of the EU Withdrawal Bill the previous night (when an English MP filibustered to prevent Scottish MPs from speaking) and wanting the chamber to immediately have a vote on the motion to sit in private. Blackford was irate in asking the question and was instructed numerous times by Speaker John Bercow to resume his seat so the Prime Minister could answer his question. Blackford refused to do this as a protest to "Scotland's voice not being heard". Eventually, Bercow used Standing Order 42 to eject Blackford from the chamber, which Blackford complied with, followed by almost every SNP MP. This was the first time that any such incident as this had ever occurred during Prime Minister's Questions as well as the House of Commons. The incident was broadcast on live television on the BBC and Sky News due to the publicity PMQs regularly brings.[32][33][34]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Ian Blackford". Scottish National Party. 4 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Results of by-elections to the 52nd United Kingdom Parliament". election.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  3. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (24 June 1997). "Reed Elsevier Is Purchasing Disney Unit for $447 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  4. ^ Bain, Simon (19 September 1998). "Defectors launch rival firm". The Herald. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Bankers dismiss independence fears". The Courier (Dundee). 13 September 2014. Archived from the original on 22 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Executive Profile: Ian Blackford". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  7. ^ Human, Tim (10 January 2012). "iPad winner puts tablet to work". IR Magazine. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Commsworld heads towards expansion after turnover rise". The Scotsman. 6 February 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Telecoms company's success is more than just talk". The Scotsman. 23 August 2005. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  10. ^ "About us". Golden Charter Trust. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Bearsden traders warn that schools closure could be catastrophic". Milngavie & Bearsden Herald. Johnston Press. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  12. ^ Brown, Anthony (13 June 2014). "Sir Tom Farmer brought Rod Petrie along to meeting with Petrie Out". The Scotsman. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  13. ^ "Glendale Trust may take over Meanish Pier on Skye". BBC News. BBC. 15 May 2012.
  14. ^ "Trust aims to tell tale of crofters' victory in new heritage centre". The Scotsman. 10 January 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  15. ^ "Flights to and from Skye could start in 2014 group says". BBC News. 6 June 2013.
  16. ^ MacKenzie, Keith (17 April 2015). "Skye air service campaigners to meet CAA". West Highland Free Press. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015.
  17. ^ "Special Report: Paisley by election. Low-key campaign in Paisley after Labour MP's suicide". BBC News. 4 November 1997.
  18. ^ Ritchie, Murray (24 September 1999). "Tax and spend image attacked by treasurer". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  19. ^ Bell, Alex; Kemp, Arnold (18 June 2000). "Rivalry rocks the SNP". The Observer. London. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Party exile attacks leadership". BBC News. 14 June 2000. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  21. ^ Ritchie, Murray (13 June 2000). "Bitter feud puts SNP in turmoil Treasurer threatens to sue party leader for defamation unless Salmond apologises for remarks". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  22. ^ Fraser, Douglas (1 July 2012). "Taking flight to Skye". BBC News.
  23. ^ "Ian Blackford: Could prompt government action have saved HBOS?". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 1 October 2008. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  24. ^ Davidson, Lorraine (8 July 2012). "Scotland 'needs own regulatory regime' to tackle reckless bankers". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  25. ^ Allardyce, Jason (5 May 2013). "Abolish CGT, says former SNP treasurer". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  26. ^ Peterkin, Tom (21 September 2014). "Former treasurer suggests SNP 'go for Home Rule'". Scotland on Sunday. Edinburgh. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  27. ^ Wilson, Fraser (29 May 2014). "RBS should be broken up and Scottish arm nationalised in an independent Scotland, says pro-Yes group". Daily Record. Glasgow. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  28. ^ Falconer, Lisa (20 January 2015). "Ian Blackford selected as SNP candidate for Ross, Skye and Lochaber". West Highland Free Press. Isle of Skye. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  29. ^ "Ross, Skye & Lochaber parliamentary constituency - Election 2017". BBC News.
  30. ^ "Ian Blackford MP elected SNP Westminster leader". BBC News. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  31. ^ https://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2017-07-19-List-of-Business-Part-1.pdf
  32. ^ "SNP MPs walk out of PMQs in 'Brexit power grab' protest". BBC News. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  33. ^ "PMQs descends into chaos as SNP Westminster leader is expelled from Commons promoting mass walkout". The Independent. London. 13 June 2018.
  34. ^ Crerar, Pippa; Walker, Peter; Brooks, Libby (13 June 2018). "SNP MPs walk out of Commons in protest over Brexit debate". The Guardian. London.

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