Blackford: Scotland is on ‘different path’ to Westminster

SNP Westminster leader will tell party conference that voters in Scotland have 'put their trust in different parties'.

Blackford: Scotland is on ‘different path’ to Westminster Getty Images
Ian Blackford will address SNP conference on Saturday.

Scotland is on a “different path” to that of the Westminster Government, the SNP’s leader in the Commons will insist.

Ian Blackford will tell the SNP conference that voters in Scotland have “put their trust in different parties” – noting that the Conservatives are the only party never to have been in power at Holyrood.

The early years of devolution saw Scotland governed by a coalition of Labour and the Liberal Democrats, before the SNP came to power in 2007.

It has remained in charge in Edinburgh since then, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently bringing the Scottish Greens into her Government in a power-sharing deal.

Blackford will tell the virtual conference that this co-operation agreement “means that, since devolution, almost every major party has been part of the Scottish Government”.

And he will claim: “It tells you all you need to know that the only party that hasn’t are – the Tories.”

Blackford, who will address the conference from his home on the Isle of Skye, will argue this shows that “Westminster’s choices are not Scotland’s choices”.

He will add: “All this time, we have been on a different path.

“The Scottish people have put their trust in different parties, made different political choices and ensured that different values are at the heart of Governments in Scotland.

“That’s not a new normal – it is now the calm constant of Scottish politics.”

In these circumstances he will say that Scotland is now “faced with a choice of two futures”.

With the Tories having been in Government in the UK for more than a decade, the MP will tell SNP supporters: “Westminster has already chosen its future. A jobs-destroying Brexit, the return of Tory austerity cuts and more attacks on devolution.”

But speaking about Scotland he will insist: “We can’t be forced to accept that future. It is now Scotland’s turn to choose.”

The SNP will “stay true to our word” and give voters in Scotland a choice over their future in a second independence referendum, he will add.

In the run-up to May’s Holyrood election, which saw the SNP win a “landslide” victory, Sturgeon promised there would be another vote on the issue after the Covid crisis.

Blackford will say that is “a manifesto promise we made to the Scottish people” and also a “democratic promise we will keep”.

But Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-union campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “Whatever people think of Brexit, the answer isn’t to walk away from our largest trading partner and scrap the pound. And the answer to austerity isn’t to impose greater austerity by leaving the UK.”

Nash added: “This SNP conference has demonstrated how out of touch the party is – every speech is dominated by independence which isn’t a priority for the people of Scotland.

“Scots want politicians to focus on the NHS, Covid recovery, jobs and the climate emergency – and we do that by working together to build a better future for every community in the UK.”