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It says much about his grinding predictability and reliably tin ear that when Ian Blackford rose to speak in the Afghanistan debate this week I wondered how he was going to shoehorn in a mention of Scottish independence. I wouldn’t have been alone.
Instead, the SNP’s leader in the Commons for once stuck to the matter at hand, although he still devoted a fair amount of time to preening about Scotland’s record on refugees. One can only presume, given the soporific length and baggy imprecision of his contribution, that he simply forgot to utter the I-word. It won’t happen again.
Blackford is the worst parliamentary offender in a competitive field for this one-eyed focus on his party’s prime purpose. He sprawls on the front bench like a set of dropped bagpipes until his turn arrives, at which point the familiar drone strikes up. The other 649 MPs – his own colleagues not excluded – tired of him long ago, and there are audible groans when he is called. “He wound me up,” Blackford complained of the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday (18 August 2021) – Peter Bottomley, the father of the House, said he wished someone had wound Blackford down instead.