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No, Ian Blackford, you really weren’t the victim: your campaign against Charles Kennedy was a disgrace

Few things have made me quite as angry as SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s revisionist interview in The Times (£)last weekend in which he claimed that the SNP’s vicious campaign against Charles Kennedy in 2015 was nothing to do with him and he was in fact the victim.

He said:

I did not enjoy the election campaign in 2015 but that was more to do with the characterisation of me from the Liberals. I’m not in any way blaming Charles, who was the MP. It was the campaign against me. It was pretty nasty.

Blackford objected to the Liberal Democrat literature which referred to him, accurately, as a banker from Edinburgh. While his supporters were going round being pretty blatant about Charles’ health problems and calling him a quisling. At the time former Labour minister Brian Wilson outlined some of the horrendous abuse Charles received on social media from Blackford’s allies:

Mr Smith sent at least 115 offensive tweets to Charles Kennedy between January and May as well as countless Facebook messages. He was not alone. A member of Charles’s constituency staff worked full-time on deleting abuse from his own social media sites. Any attempt to communicate on behalf of his own campaign met with another torrent of well-orchestrated poison.

When Charles asked for supporters to put posters in their windows, one Clare Robertson (if that is indeed his/her name) sneered: “Just put an empty whisky bottle in your window. It’s the same thing.”

The Mr Smith referred to was Blackford’s constituency chair who resigned over his comments on Twitter. 

Blackford also refers to a visit he made to Charles’ campaign office in Fort William:

What about the infamous episode, I ask, when you and some supporters were said to have burst into the Liberal Democrat campaign rooms and had a shouting match?

“That wasn’t the case,” says Mr Blackford. “I’d been in on several occasions. We even took some cake into them when we opened up our offices. I’d actually gone in to him because we’d had a public meeting the night before and I’d gone to see Charles to say, look, could you lay off this personal attack on us.

“With the benefit of hindsight, which is a wonderful thing, perhaps it would have been better not to do that, but that’s what happened and the Liberals have sought to characterise it in another way.”

On the day, in April 2015, we brought you the story of Blackford’s ill-tempered and aggressive visit to the campaign hq where he had a right go at young staff members. 

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