Much of this week has been dominated by stories about Patrick Grady, the SNP MP suspended from parliament after sexually harassing a teenage staff member. What was already a pretty seedy story of a party protecting the perpetrator rather than the victim became even grubbier with the release of a recording of an SNP group meeting
In the recording, SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford was clear about who needed the party’s solidarity. It wasn’t Grady’s young victim:
“I think most of you know how I feel about Patrick and I would encourage the group to deliver as much support as possible. Let’s look forward to next week, he is going to face challenges, and needs our absolute full support.”
Inevitably, there were calls for Blackford’s resignation. The Deputy Leader of the SNP told us he knew nothing about it. Nicola Sturgeon fled to Italy. Today Blackford finally made a statement in an attempt to protect the person he sees as the real victim in all of this: himself. As Gina Davidson from LBC points out, his statement is an attempt to move from the specific to the general, and doesn’t answer the outstanding questions for the party’s Commons leader:
“Why did Blackford have the complainer come to his office alone to be confronted by a crying Grady?
What process did he think he was following in doing so and what advice did he seek?
Why was Grady promoted while this was all unresolved?
What did Blackford do to support the young complainer?
Why did work stop being sent to the complainer?
Why was the complainer not mentioned as needing support at the group meeting?
How will he ensure the young man is supported should he return to work at Westminster?”
None of us should be surprised that this man would lack any sort of compassion towards the victim and instead rally his troops around the harrasser, but we should still be disgusted.