Passing the baton

The SNP Westminster group has chosen its new leader and deputy leader to replace Ian Blackford and Kirsten Oswald who have stood down as leader and deputy leader respectively. The leading contenders were Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn , who ousted Tory Ross Thomson at the 2019 General Election, and Alison Thewliss, who has represented Glasgow Central since 2015. Stephen Flynn chose Paisley MP Mhairi Black as his running mate and as his deputy, whereas Alison Thewliss chose Stuart McDonald, who represents Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East – not to be confused with the similarly named Stewart McDonald, the MP for Glasgow South since 2015.

The Thewliss and McDonald team was perceived as being close to Nicola Sturgeon whereas the Flynn- Black team is reportedly in favour of a more robust and confrontational approach for the SNP in Westminster and a greater willingness to adopt positions at variance with the Scottish Government. Stephen Flynn has already signalled that he is in favour of granting new exploration licences for oil and gas in the North Sea, an issue which resonates in his own constituency.

In the event the Flynn and Black team won, by 26 votes to 17, in a vote of the party’s MPs, one MP did not vote, thr result gives the Aberdeen South MP a greater margin of victory than some had predicted. Shortly after his victory was announced, Flynn chose Mhairi Black as his deputy, the new leader and deputy leader represent the leadership baton being passed to a younger generation of politicians, Stephen Flynn is 34, while Mhairi Black is 28. This could be significant given the demographics of independence support, the new leadership team belong to an age cohort amongst whom there is a large majority in favour of independence. Both are too young to have had any political awareness of a time before there was a Scottish Parliament, Stephen Flynn was just nine and Mhairi Black was only three when Scotland voted in the 1997 referendum in favour of a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. They belong to a generation for whom the idea of Scotland making its own decisions is entirely normal.

Congratulations Stephen and Mhairi – now let’s get this thing done.

The new SNP Westminster leader has said that under his leadership : “SNP MPs would be relentlessly focused on standing up for Scotland’s interests and our democratic right to decide our future in an independence referendum.” He added : “SNP MPs will work harder than ever to hold the Tory government to account – and make the case that independence is the essential route to safety, fairness and prosperity for Scotland.”

Of course the anti-independence press are spinning this development as a ‘blow for Nicola Sturgeon,’ well they would say that wouldn’t they, and in order to make their case they rely on quotes from Conservative politicians who would describe absolutely anything as a blow for Nicola Sturgeon and who proved just how good their judgement is by backing Liz Truss just a few weeks ago. In fact all that it proves is that Bute House does not have the iron grip on the party that the SNP’s detractors claim it does.

This is good for party democracy and demonstrates a healthy independence of thought amongst the party’s Westminster representatives and a willingness to explore the new tactics that will prove necessary now that the independence campaign is operating in a new post ‘voluntary union’ landscape. But of course it’s a blow for Nicola Sturgeon, because, you know, everything is.

If the vote had gone the other way the story would have been about how the SNP group at Westminster was a creature of the leadership in Edinburgh and not permitted any freedom of thought and action. No matter what the development is a negative spin is going to be put on it. That’s what Scotland’s media exists to do.

The first test for the new leadership team comes on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions, although it would be more accurate to call it Prime Minister’s contemptuous evasions. Stephen Flynn’s rise has been rapid, he has only been an MP since 2019, too short a time for the usual jibes of the critics of the SNP’s Westminster contingent to be at all accurate in his case. He’s not an MP who intends to settle in at Westminster, but rather to settle the score with Westminster, even more so given that he becomes Westminster leader at at time when the British state has destroyed the traditional unionist claim that the UK is a voluntary union and we are looking at a de facto independence referendum at the next Westminster General Election as the most likely means of ensuring that Scotland gets its say on its place within the failing democracy of the British state.

The braying boors on the Conservative benches will not be giving the new leadership team any time to settle in. There are reports that the new Westminster leader plans to shake up the party’s front bench team. It has also been suggested that he will be more prepared to be confrontational in the Commons, rather than playing by rules that are stacked against Scotland.

I have seen, and been mightily impressed by some of the speeches that Mhairi Black has delivered in the Commons, she takes no prisoners in her condemnation of the misdeeds of the Conservative party, and that no holds barred approach is exactly what is required. I am less familiar with Stephen Flynn, but I hope that he displays the same strength of character and an unwillingness to be shouted down by the jeering English nationalist bigots and morons who populate the Conservative benches. He has certainly displayed a more combative approach in some of his interventions in the Commons, an approach which has won him the support of a majority of his colleagues in the Commons.

Fire must be fought with fire. That’s what Scotland needs right now, Westminster’s contempt for Scotland must be countered robustly and head on. We are in new territory now, with a Westminster and both Labour and Conservative parties which do not disguise their contempt for the democratic choices of Scotland. It must be no more Mr and Ms Nice Guy from here on in. Here’s hoping that is exactly what this new young leadership team will deliver.


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74 comments on “Passing the baton

  1. Dr Jim says:

    Here’s hoping

  2. Brian Watson says:

    Let’s see a lot more disruption of Westminster . SNP needs to be more of a thistle in the UK’s flesh.

  3. deelsdugs says:

    Hope so too…

  4. Martin Edmunds says:

    Combative should be the word. Much as I like Ian Blackford it had all become a bit too comfy and by the numbers at PMQs.
    At this point the SNP shouldn’t be simply pointing out the hypocrisy of WM governments with less of a percentage vote than the SNP get at Holyrood telling the people of Scotland their votes don’t count, they should be battering them over the head with it at the weekly circus.

    With the obvious first point of attack being this: The situation here is that with English MPs at Westminster outnumbering Scottish ones by near on 4 to 1 so long as only Westminster can authorise a vote on Scotland’s place in the union then the power over Scotland being in this union rests with English MPs not a single person living in Scotland can vote for or against, not even if the SNP gained every single seat at a UK election, not even if they held every single non ‘list’ seat at Holyrood at the same time.

    In that situation saying Scotland is nothing more than a possession of England is not some abstract concept or theory, it is an absolutely mathematically provable FACT and until the power to decide our place in this union is solely in the hands of the people of Scotland, and nobody else our place in the world is nothing more than a defacto English colony.

    This is the language we should now be using.

  5. Bob Lamont says:

    An excellent summary again, it will indeed be interesting to see what fresh approaches they bring to that nest of vipers in London, although I doubt the Speaker will be other than dreading it….

    As you rightly observed, the media in Scotland are entirely predictable with the negativity.
    After weeks of HMS James Cook attempting to conjure party infighting in the SNP Westminster contingent from Blackfords’s resignation, they are now hard at work attempting to build a “there’s no smoke without fire” case, although thus far they have resisted deploying the truly absurd such incontinent pigeons.

    Interesting times….

    • Legerwood says:

      Actually I think there was only a couple of weeks, if that, between Mr Blackford
      announcing his resignation and the election of the new leadership team. Cleverly played by him and then Ms Thewlis announcing first followed by Mr Flynn closer to the actual vote thus reducing the time the media had to punt their ‘division in SNP’ spin.

      • Bob Lamont says:

        Fair comment, two weeks it is, but it was still quite deliberate fire raising by HMS James Cook, which is not the headline job of “impartial broadcaster” whatever Glenn Campbell’s “In my opinion….” actually says between his meandering distortions.
        If a week is a long time in politics, there has to be a Tardis parked in Pacific Quay..

  6. Dr Jim says:

    PMQs: Stephen Flynn asked the questions, Rishi Sunak avoided the answers

  7. Ken says:

    Good start.

    Support Independence by voting SNP/SNP. Get one other to votess well. In every election. A high turnout. Vote for Independence.

    Easy. Simple

    A high turnout at every election.

    Vote for Independence.

  8. Ken says:

    Who’s is the stone faced people beside Lame duck Richi. Poo faced


  9. Ken says:

    The psychopaths beside Richi

    • Dr Jim says:

      The woman to the right of Sunak is Penny Mordaunt who was the members original choice for PM, but the parliamentary party didn’t want her to win so they engineered Liz Truss to win the job by pitting her against Sunak who they knew would lose to Truss, but she only lasted less than the shelf life of a lettuce to be replaced by Sunak who the members had originally voted against in favour of Truss

      So Sunak is now the PM who lost to the PM who lost to a lettuce

  10. Alex Clark says:

    Here is Stephen Flynn making his debut at PMQ’s.

    • Capella says:

      He got off to a confident start. It’s the first time I’ve heard him speak and I think he did well given the ridiculous comical tragical situation of PMQs .

      • Alex Clark says:

        Just like Mhari Black he’s not afraid of taking centre stage, I’m sure we will be seeing and hearing a lot more of him in the coming months,

    • Eilidh says:

      The clip shows he gave a good performance for a first time as leader at PMQs. I haven’t watched PMQs or FMQs for several months as the garbage spoken by the unionist parties really isn’t good for my blood pressure. Doubtful I will watch them again any time soon.I don’t know how many in Scotland do watch it so unsure what difference the performance of a new Westminster Snp leader will make to support for the cause of Independence

  11. BREAKING: New IPSOS Poll released today has YES at 56%.

    • Here you go:

      Headline UK General Election voting intention figures for Scotland are:
      SNP: 51% (+7 compared with May 2022 Ipsos poll)
      Scottish Conservatives: 13% (-6)
      Scottish Labour: 25% (+2)
      Scottish Liberal Democrats: 6% (-4)
      Scottish Green Party: 3% (unchanged)
      Other: 2% (unchanged)

      The poll shows a clear lead for Yes. Among those likely to vote either Yes or No in an immediate referendum, 56% say they would vote Yes and 44% No. Yes support is up 6 percentage points compared with our May 2022 poll.

    • Thanks UKSC! Much appreciated!

      Treating the next election as a de facto referendum on independence appears unlikely to dent the SNP’s vote share: indeed, 53% of those likely to vote say they would vote SNP in this situation. With a further 2% saying they would vote for the Scottish Green Party, this would take the vote share for pro-independence parties to 55%.

      Maybe a 1-2% Alba there tae!

    • And it seems my straw in the wind on Labour may be right. Only 25%. That’s pre-mini-budget boost levels!

  12. Alex Clark says:

    This is the poll that Stephen Flynn spoke of at FMQ’s.

  13. Alex Clark says:

    That’s the 3rd poll in a row to show support for Independence out in front since the Supreme Court made its decision that Scotland was not a voluntary member of this rotten Union.

    This is no longer a close thing and Yes now has a substantial lead which looks like it might go on even further from here. We have reached a turning point for many and there’s no going back from that.

    The powers that be down the road will be wishing that they can take back the decision of the Supreme Court and it might not be too long before they offer a Section 30 but with strings attached. We do not accept any additional conditions, so it will be same as last time or we tell them what to do with their Section 30 offer.

  14. Old Pete says:

    Hopefully support for Independence rises even more, we need to break away from English hegemony as fast as we can.

  15. Anyone ken if I’m a ‘Sturgeon loyalist’ or not? BBC says I’m in one of two divided camps. Have details been sent out to individual members about which one they are in? I haven’t received anything.

    • Stephen McKenzie says:

      Ah naw.. Is that the SNP Civil War starting up again. Brian Taylor will be donning his flak jacket, well probably two sown together as we speak..

      Expect news from the front line shortly.

      • Sophie Grace Chappell says:

        Trench warfare between us and the Thewlisites all along the Hulltoon in Dundee. I hear tell the price of sandbags is rocketing on the Clepy Road. Sitting here I can hear the sound of a big Lewis gun opening up from the top of Cox’s Stack in Lochee.

    • Billie says:

      Let us hope that they will deliver for Scotland.

      We bemoan Gordon Brown for his false promises. But we too are guilty of the same.

      We allowed Scotland to be dragged out of the EU against Scotland’s wishes. We accepted the Internal Market Bill. And now we accept that our Parliament has no power, is but a super council. All these things have happened. Let us hope that tjr Westminster SNP will now deliver change.

  16. Golfnut says:

    Great news about the poll. I think caution is required in the use of what could rapidly become the accepted perceived legal position of Scotland in this union. While declaring to all and sundry the Supreme court ruled that Scotland was not in a voluntary union, something that was well beyond the remit of any, I repeat ‘any ‘domestic court in the UK, may be useful in propaganda terms in whipping up resentment it must not be allowed to settle into the national consciousness as fact. The ruling outwith the question asked, namely, did the Scotland Act allow Holyrood to hold a referendum on reserved matters, was political and not law and does not represent Scotland’s position as a cosignatory to the Treaty of Union.

    • Golfnut says:

      “Scotland was not in a voluntary union,”
      Should have read.
      Scotland was in a voluntary union but didn’t have the right to vote to leave,

    • grizebard says:

      Well said. I’m still waiting though for any actual constitutional expert to raise even a peep about this. All cowering in their cozy ivory towers, it would seem.

      • Golfnut says:

        Dissing an SP ruling isn’t going to pay the mortgage and I don’t blame them for keeping their heads down.
        They are out there though. Meantime it’s up is to us to keep the candle burning, remind people that we have a constitution, that it binds the union Parliament and that it is potent, not just in our present predicament but also to ensure a future independent Scotland doesn’t end up with a westminster in Edinburgh.

  17. yesindyref2 says:

    Yes to all of it, good stuff. This:

    In fact all that it proves is that Bute House does not have the iron grip on the party that the SNP’s detractors claim it does.

    is almost a coincidental bonus, not just from the point of view of taking the steam out of Unionists attacks, but also those of the Indy Movement who complain about control freakery. It’s something Flynn and Black can and should play on.

    I think that will play well with the so far undecideds and NOes – and with the latest poll, those who some regard as being hardened NO voters are getting less and less. Well, this is as WGD says, the next generation, and if the SNP do form the first Independent Government, it might not be the same SNP as now – no more “same old, same old”.

    But please, Flynn and Black, don’t be letting us hear “We’ve never been closer to Independence” from you.

  18. So, 3 different pollsters getting between 52 and 61% Yes via iref or election plebiscite post UKSC case.

    All data pointing to Labour losing minibudget boost rapidly as they deny democracy too tory style.

    Thanks UKSC and English parties. Really appreciated. Please keep up the good work! Nearly there now!

    • Like so:

      Y/N Indyref
      56% Yes (Ispos Scotland)
      52% Yes (Redfield & Winton)

      54% Yes = Average

      Specific UKGE plebiscite
      61% Yes parties (Find out Now)
      55%+ Yes parties (Ipsos Scotland)

      58% Yes = Average

    • Now this, fellow duggers, is what you call successful new Scot integration. It’s really something to behold.

      Total failure on the part of the UK media to try and present the SNP / Greens as ‘anti-English ethnic nationalists’.

      VI of those not born in Scotland (so mainly England, with the rest European).

      UKGE indy plebiscite intention:
      41% SNP
      23% Lab
      18% Con
      11% Lib
      4% Green
      = 45% for Yes parties

      Y/N indyref
      46% Yes
      54% No

  19. dakk says:

    The new combo of Flynn and Black will hopefully be well suited to the more abrasive approach required going forward.

    And at last it seems they have the support of the majority of the Scottish electorate to help them take the fight to the den of iniquity that is Westminster.

  20. Alex Clark says:

    The BBC on its Scottish Politics page are not talking about the huge lead for Independence in the Ipsos poll but instead are asking the question as to whether or not Nicola Sturgeon is “losing her grip on the SNP”.

    How embarrassing it must feel to be reduced to such grubby headlines for propaganda purposes and to pretend that the poll never happened. Bottom feeders.

    • Dr Jim says:

      Blow for BBC

      • Stephen McKenzie says:

        Can you imagine the brain storming that must be taking place in Pacific Quay to put things to right for Blighty..

        * Don’t mention the Polls,
        * Highlight the Ferries and Pigeons especially,
        * Chaos on the roads, even if its not snowing yet,
        * Push the latest fake SNP Civil War, Sturgeon is rattled story.

        That should do it.

  21. Capella says:

    OT – Scotonomics Live is organising a Festival of Economics in Dundee in March. There are other topics too and comedy shows to cheer everyone up. Great list of speakers. For details see the website:

  22. davetewart says:

    Back in your box jocks.

    The english run CAA have just closed large chunks os West Coast airspace for a Drone Trial, restricting access for local users.

    The lack of consultation was used to delay the implimentation last year, no further consultation this year.

    Of course it’s a retained power.

  23. Welsh_Siôn says:


    Independence ‘on the table’ after interim Constitutional Commission findings says YesCymru

    07 Dec 2022 8 minute read

    Independence is “on the table” after the interim findings of a Constitutional Commission set up by the Welsh Government, YesCymru have said.

    The Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales has said it is examining three “viable” options for Wales’ future – including independence.

    YesCymru pointed to the fact that 55% of all the participants in the consultation phase expressed support for independence for Wales.


  24. Hamish100 says:

    See the bbc desperate finding bad news. Must be a relief to see that Scotland isn’t ahead of England Wales and Northern Ireland anymore in dealing with our target for reducing green emissions. (Our reduction targets are higher than the rest so hardly like for like).

    Looking at the committee recommendations the big “ polluters” such as oil extraction continues. A reserved power but set against Scotland. Of course the oil and gas Scotland needs for plastics and suchlike is 7 times less than the insatiable needs of England ( in particular for gas / electricity). Our needs are lower.

    • Legerwood says:

      The UKGov’s announcement about opening a new coalmine in Cumbria has left BBC Scotland with egg all over its face with regards to its story about SG’s missed targets on emissions. I expect that story will now disappear without trace.

  25. Meant to post here rather than the previous blog.

    #UKSC effect

    Anas Sarwar
    40(-6)% Satisfied
    37(+10)% Dissatisfied
    23(-4)% Don’t know
    NET = +3(-16)%

    Keir Starmer
    37(-1)% Satisfied
    50(+10)% Dissatisfied
    13(-9)% Don’t know
    NET = -13(-11)%

    Alex Cole Hamilton
    24(-4)% Satisfied
    40(+16)% Dissatisfied
    36(-10)% Don’t know
    NET = 16(-20)%

    Douglas Ross
    22(-2)% Satisfied
    60(+9)% Dissatisfied
    18(-7)% Don’t know
    NET = -38(-11)%

    What did they expect exactly? Scots patting them on the back for taking away their vote and forcing English rule on Scotland?

  26. Hard to not conclude that this is the UKSC effect in action!

    All unionist parties down, SNP shoot up for Westminster.

    Will be champagne at SNP HQ today. They played a blinder with the UKSC case. UK government walked right into to that trap. And maybe some of the judges too.

    But then were any of the judges Scottish? I mean self-id first and foremost as that, respecting the right of Scots to self-determine? To properly understand the Scots electorate’s reaction, you’d need to be not all proud British, and ideally Scottish.

    • Dr Jim says:

      Well I guess if you’re one of those judges there’s money, a peerage, knight of the realm maybe, or lose yer position and reputation in the upper echelons of the England hierarchy to consider, as opposed to the lives and democratic desires of the 5.5 million people in Scotland that nobody in England gives a toss about

      Do they 1. take what they’ve won, or 2. take the risk and go for the grand prize of integrity ?

      How much does integrity cost in England? It doesn’t matter the imperial government will pay any price to buy it

    • Gay Ecossaise says:

      One out of the five judges was Scottish but locked into the system and chosen for his ability when asked not to upset the apple cart! This is why it amazed most in the know that it was unanimous they expected 4 to 1! As you have rightly said they walked right into the trap hook line and sinker. I was very excited as soon as I read about it and the outcome was the best possible in my opinion. I like your French and Irish input a marvellous combination and mix! The French being our 1st cousins from the 12th century only three times as long as the 200 years of the USofA!

  27. Dr Jim says:

    BBC Scotland and STV must have not seen the polls or not had their instructions as to how to deal with them
    Seeing as how the UK of Englands imperial government likes to govern by quoting the polling statistics and not democratic voting it appears they’re running out of ammo to fire at Scotland

    • Hamish100 says:

      BBC – we don’t comment on individual polls.
      Particularly if they are showing independence in a good light.

  28. Sophie Grace Chappell says:

    Stephen Flynn was great at PMQ today. He came across as contemptuous of Tory hecklers, ever so slightly thuggish, and very very Weegie.
    This is all excellent. The icy, stony contempt is well-deserved. The street-fighting air is what we need right now. And his accent is almost certain to trigger some braying Nigel into saying that they “can’t understand a single word he says”. In the current situation, that’s exactly what we want them to be saying. If the Tories jeer at Flynn’s accent, that is completely bloody perfect for the SNP. So I very much hope they will.

  29. daveytee19 says:

    Weegie? He’s an East Coast loon – Dundee, Brechin and Aberdeen.

  30. Alex Clark says:

    • Dr Jim says:

      It’s very telling after some twitter investigation that the most angry about this polling are the Alba followers who appear to hate Nicola Sturgeon even more than the imperialists do

      • Alec Lomax says:

        Aye, I thinking of one Alba supporter, a bit of a radge actually. He watches this forum like a skelly-eyed hawk and reports his findings on a certain Alba site. Maybe he has nothing better to do.

  31. Dr Jim says:

    STVs Colin McKay says the Scottish Brits are totally dismayed by the polls, DRoss was hiding and sent out somebody else to be interviewed, Anas Sarwar was still insisting that what Scotland wanted was him and his boss’s big plan same as the last plan but even stupider

    Nicola Sturgeon was interviewed, normally she doesn’t hold that much by polls but this one was a bit too good not to comment on, oh she was delighted btw

    Help me Rona concluded it’s all early days because there’ll be strikes and unrest and kids off school so maybe that’ll all put folk off independence over the next couple of years (she hopes)

    Rona don’t know what we all know that this will turn more and more folk towards independence because the big red white and blue elephant in the UK is still that Scotland has been told by the imperial Supreme Court we are not equal, we are not voluntary, we do not count

    Leaving Scotland is a prisoner of England proving they lied about everything and their court said so in a legal and irrefutable manner

    Nae backsies, nae do overs, nae gaes another shot, nae best oot o three, the English imperial government are legally declared liars by their own highest court in their land

    Whit mair proof diz onybody want

  32. James Mills says:

    Stephen Flynn was an improvement on the rather verbose Ian Blackford .
    Mr Blackford tried his best to debate at PMQs but with the braying Hooray-Henrys and Henriettas of the English Public School brigade mostly drowning him out each week it was a valiant but wasted effort – and he was far too nice to the glove Puppets masquerading as PMs during his tenure .
    Hopefully Mr Flynn will reciprocate the venom , condescension and contempt which is regularly shown to the SNP Leadership at this weekly pantomime which , more than anything , demonstrates how much the UK needs shot of this Westminster anachronism thinly disguised as a Parliament .

    The Tories won’t change it , it suits then to a T , Starmer won’t change it , he wants Labour to be the new Tories and the English people can’t change it because it suits the two main parties Old Tory and New Tory .

    The Scottish lifeboat needs to be launched soon . Women, children , old men and young men , old Scots and new Scots , furriners who want to be Scots , English who want to live in a democracy , people from all corners of the former UK – all are welcome .

  33. Bob Lamont says:

    Flynn’s observation on Indy polling numbers surging as energy bills land was very astute, there is no escaping where disenchantment will land with energy policy reserved to Westminster.
    His point on energy rich Scotland suggests he may well be renewing attacks on the distorted energy market for Scottish consumers…
    A good start…

  34. Luigi says:

    Yes a good start. However, we are long past the time for oratory. I want to see some serious action not words. It’s high time for some serious disruption of WM business. The SNP have the numbers. The more annoyed the UK establishment gets, the more the mask will fall and its true nature revealed. Choose your moments of course, but make bloody nuisances of yourselves. The people of Scotland will support you, no question.

    • Tam the Bam says:

      ” … I want to see some serious action.. not words.”

      What do you suggest?
      A Christmas Govan-kiss for Lindsay Hoyle?
      Laddering Penny Mordaunts nylons?
      Stealing Michael Fabricants wig?
      …… answers on a postcard please to:- Westminster Leader-aff (SNP). Stephen Flynn.

  35. Tatu3 says:

    Nicola has a plan for getting independence and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this was ALL part of the independence campaign plan….Ian Blackford standing down and getting a younger, more fiery guy in at this stage of it. To be noticed and to wake everyone up. And Flynn being “chosen” was also part of the plan.

  36. Capella says:

    “House Jock”and national treasure Andrew Bowie explains how he will negotiate trade deals with all 27 EU countries. Priceless!

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